Violence in relationships is a specific form of domestic violence or violence in the immediate social environment. It occurs when an intimate partner or a family member or ex-partner or spouse uses a pattern of abusive behavior – physical violence, coercion, threat, intimidation, and abuse of rules – emotional, sexual and economic – to keep the other partner under control.
The expression violence in relationships covers all forms of adult violence in all types of relationships. It does not only cover physical violence but emotional violence as well.
Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological, social, and economic. It may happen in a married or unmarried couple, heterosexual or homosexual couple, those sharing a common domicile or not, in the phase of separation or after the separation. It can take different forms, which can be exercised alone or in combination. So domestic violence is an incredibly complex thing.
The definition of violence in relationships does not exclude children from being affected by this form of violence. Children may also be the victims of domestic violence. Whether they are victims of violence from their parents, siblings or any other member living in the household with them. The effects of domestic violence are especially common amongst women and children, as these groups of people are common targets of domestic violence.
Who are the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence?
Although men and women are potential victims of domestic violence, researchers have shown that the vast majority of victims are women and children. Violence occurs at any stage of a relationship. All women, regardless of social class, ethnicity, age, nationality, religion, culture or education, may become victims of domestic violence. Children are also traumatized by violence in their homes, whether that is directly or indirectly. If there are people who got beat up, all are regularly witnesses of acts of violence engendering fear, anguish and great distress. Post-traumatic stress disorder can last a lifetime.
Given that domestic violence occurs behind closed doors and in the private sphere of the family, away from the gaze of others, and given that there is no typical profile of the perpetrator, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to identify an abuser without the statements of survivors. The most charming and adoring partner in public can, at home, be violent and abusive in private.
Women may also be violent, but abusive women account for a small percentage of domestic violence. In general, they respond to defend themselves and protect themselves, rarely there are cases wherein women initiate the domestic violence.
What happens because of domestic violence?
Domestic violence mutilates and kills those who are victims of it. It causes various health problems ranging from physical and sexual injuries to psychological and psychiatric disorders. Also, survivors of domestic violence face other social and economic problems too. Here are some of the consequences of domestic violence among people who suffer from it.
Internal and external injuries
Depending on the types of physical violence that are experienced by a person, their injuries can vary. Common types of injuries that victims of domestic violence can experience are bruising, internal and external injuries, broken bones, sprained limbs and many other types of injuries. The physical well-being of a person is at huge risk if they are victims of domestic violence.
Given that many victims of domestic violence are women, there is also an inordinate amount of them that experience gynecological problems due to injuries. Women can get unwanted pregnancy and miscarriages if they experience domestic violence. It is because rape or sexual coercion can be a frequent thing in domestic violence.
A lot of domestic violence victims can also gain a permanent disability. It is because they may incur or suffer from severe injuries because of the domestic violence that they have faced.
Mental and psychological problems due to Domestic violence
Due to the abuse that they face, those who suffer from domestic violence are actually at a higher risk of mental disorders and illnesses. And it is because of these mental disorders and illnesses that a lot of them turn to high-risk behaviors such as self-harm or even drug abuse.
Those who are victims of domestic violence are at a higher risk of depression. Their feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are much higher when compared to the average person. Depression is sadly common amongst women and children who face domestic violence. And it also leads to other mental problems such as anxiety as well.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
PTSD is another common mental illness amongst those who are victims of domestic violence. It is because they may have frequent flashbacks to the times they got abused. Domestic violence also conditions the brains of victims always to expect some form of abuse or violence.
A lot of women who are victims of domestic violence also suffer from all sorts of anxiety disorders. They may be highly nervous and easily prone to stress.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is also a common mental disorder amongst people who are victims of domestic violence and abuse. They may have obsessive thoughts about the abuse that they face.
Women who suffer from domestic violence have a higher rate of suffering from eating disorders. A lot of women who are suffering from eating disorders also have other kinds of mental illnesses as well such as anxiety and depression. Not to mention the additional physical problems that they may have due to their eating problem.
A disproportionate number of those who suffer from domestic violence end up committing suicide. It is because there are other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety may cause them to commit suicide at a higher rate.
What should you do in cases of domestic violence?
If you have recently been subject to some form of abuse by your partner or spouse, then you must act quickly. If you do not do anything, then the domestic violence that you face could become worse over time. You can try to do the following things if you ever do experience some form of domestic abuse.
Get help from a close friend you trust. Perhaps you could try to get help from someone who specializes in domestic abuse cases. A lot of organizations will specialize in helping women in those kinds of abuse cases.
If you are in danger, call the police. Police can and will intervene in domestic abuse cases.
If you have decided to leave the marital home, plan where you will go for your protection and that of your children. It is important that this place is a safe shelter unknown to your partner and where you will receive help. If you can, bring your personal belongings and those of your children as well and if possible a little money and important documents such as birth certificate, academic certificates, credit cards and other bank documents.
It is important that you protect yourself from your aggressor. Go to the police and make an official statement that you leave the marital home due to being mistreated. If your children do not accompany you, do inform them you are taking legal steps to recover them. If you do not know where to go, ask the police for information on shelters for battered women
Make a formal request for an order of protection and any other legal protection to protect you from future violence. Make a report if there is any violation of a protection order.
If you have bruises and feel that you need medical assistance, ask police officers to be taken to the hospital to see a doctor.
Once you have left the abusive relationship, the healing process can begin, and you can rebuild your life in a safe and secure place. Take time to rest, repair your injuries and think about what you want to do
Are there further dangers associated with those who suffer from domestic violence?
In addition to the mental and physical problems that domestic victims face, they also face a lot of other things as well. Victims of domestic abuse can face socio-economic hurdles, as they are more likely to be in poverty. And in addition to that, studies and researches have also shown that those who have undergone domestic violence are at a higher risk of substance abuse. Victims of domestic violence often turn to using drugs and alcohol to solve their problems.
Why is there a higher risk of substance abuse amongst victims of domestic violence?
Victims of domestic violence have higher rates of substance abuse because of some different factors. One of the main reasons why victims of domestic violence turn to using drugs and alcohol is because they are suffering from a higher rate of mental illness. And it is due to this higher rate of mental illness that there is also a higher rate of substance abuse amongst those groups of people.
For example, there are antidepressant medications such as sertraline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, escitalopram. These kinds of drugs can include things such as Zoloft and Prozac. These medications are prescribed to people who are depressed, which could be due to the abuse that they have faced.
Another kind of drug prescribed for people who have suffered from domestic violence can be anti-anxiety medications. This class of drugs can include clonazepam, alprazolam, diazepam, and lorazepam. These kinds of drugs are meant to treat stress and anxiety problems. And since a lot of the victims of domestic violence suffer from PTSD and anxiety disorders, they are usually prescribed these kinds of medications.
A lot of these medications especially the anti-anxiety ones such as clonazepam and alprazolam are incredibly addictive. People who take them often can develop a reliance on them. Drug addiction is an over-reliance on certain kinds of medications and drugs. And just because doctors have prescribed these drugs, does not mean that these drugs are not addictive. In fact, most people who are addicted to drugs, also, are addicted to prescription medications. And since many prescription medications given to victims of domestic violence are psychoactive, this makes them even more addictive.
What can be done to help these people?
Since a lot of the victims of domestic violence are at a higher risk of addiction to alcohol and drugs, the only effective way to help those people would be to check them in for inpatient drug rehab. It is because there are a lot of different ways that drug rehab can help addicts who have faced domestic violence.
Allows the addict to detox
Within the drug rehab facility itself, there will be no access to alcohol or drugs of any kind. Therefore, an addict will be able to fully and completely flush the drugs out of their system. A complete detox is the first step to take to recover successfully from drug and alcohol addiction.
Therapy can help the addict
Addicts often have mental illnesses that have caused them to turn to using drugs. And since mental illnesses such as anxiety and PTSD are common amongst victims of domestic violence, therapy in rehab can help them out a lot. Therapy in rehab can be an important step to take for people who want to recover from their addiction and mental illness.
Removes the reliance on the medication
Many mentally ill people often develop a reliance on their medication. And that reliance can count as a form of addiction. If those people go to rehab, then they can surround themselves with supportive people. Not to mention there is also therapy and exercises that can help people grow. It means that mentally ill people can learn skills that can help detach them from their reliance on their medications.
So as you can quite clearly see, it is a very smart move to send an addict to rehab. A lot of women and even some men, who have faced domestic violence, will often bottle their pain and suffer up and turn to drugs to get some release. However, abusing alcohol and drugs only make the problem worse. It is only through the help of therapy in drug rehab, will the person be able to get over their addiction and finally take the steps that are necessary to recover from their mental illness.