Identifying the signs of an abusive relationship can be difficult because the abuser uses subtle tactics to gain power and control over their partner. The victim may first recognize that the relationship is abusive after it has escalated to violence. In reality, domestic violence is never a one-time incident. Many relationships follow a pattern known as the Cycle of Violence.
Click here to learn more about warning signs of abuse.
If you would like to talk about your situation, you can meet with a VIP advocate in person or call our hotline anonymously. We are here to listen and provide support regardless of whether you are ready to end your relationship or not.
Leaving an abusive relationshop is the most dangerous time for a victim because they are taking some of the power and control back from their abuser. An advocate can help an individual develop a Safety Plan.
How to Help Someone You Care About
If you suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, talking with them about it can be difficult. The most important thing you can do is to let them know that they have support and that there are options when choosing to leave. It's important to remember that you can't "rescue" your loved one from an abusive relationship. Although it is hard to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person in the relationship needs to be the one who decides to make a change. There are many reasons why a victim may stay in an abusive relationship and many victims return after they have left.
Here are some tips you can do to help:
- Be non-judgmental and respectful of their decisions, even if you don’t agree.
- Acknowledge their feelings and tell them that you are concerned for their safety.
- Tell them the abuse is not their fault and that they are not alone.
- Educate yourself about domestic violence and the resources available in your community. You can meet with a VIP advocate in person or call our hotline anonymously.
Signs Someone May Be Being Abused
How to Help a Loved One or Co-Worker
Youth Exposed to Domestic Violence
In 2014, more than two-thirds of children (ages 17 and younger) were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or as witnesses. Children exposed to domestic violence may develop social, emotional, and behavior problems. Children may be more likely to exhibit aggressive or antisocial behaviors. Youth that witness violence in the home have been found to have higher levels of anger, hostility, oppositional behavior and disobedience. Research has also shown they suffer from fear, withdrawals, poor social relationships, and low self-esteem.
Children experience domestic violence in many ways. They may hear one parent threaten or demean the other, or see a parent who is angry or afraid. They may see or hear one parent physically hurt the other and cause injuries or destroy property. Children may live with the fear that something will happen again. They may even be the targets of abuse. To find out about more effects of domestic violence on children or how to help children, click here.
How Alcohol and Drug Addiction Impacts Domestic Violence
It is not uncommon for victims or abusers of domestic violence to use alcohol or drugs. According to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (2016), substance abuse was involved in nearly half of all domestic assaults. Other studies have found that “over 80% of men who killed or abused a female partner were problem drinkers in the year before the incident.”
Victims may use alcohol or drugs for numerous reasons. Aside from having an addiction to alcohol or other drugs prior to domestic abuse, victims may also use alcohol or drugs to cope with stress, pain, or PTSD due to the abuse. In other cases, victims might also use substances to help them feel more powerful or able to defend themselves; this could increase the danger of a victim. Other times, alcohol or drug use might be encouraged by the abuser to gain control and discourage the victim from going to the police due to fear of getting in trouble.
For More Information:
How To Prevent Violence
Relationship Between Drugs, Alcohol, and Violence
PTSD and Addiction
Resources for Substance Abuse Treatment
- Kewaunee County Human Services Behavioral Health Unit (Mental Health and Substance Abuse for Adults 18 and Older) For more information, call 920-388-7030