What Domestic Abuse Looks Like and How It Affects You

Wellness

TW: Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Suicide

When you fall in love with someone, it is very easy to look past all the red flags. You could be so infatuated with a person, the warning signs could be staring at you straight in the face, but you wouldn't even see it. Domestic abusers do that on purpose by luring you in with chivalry, gifts, sex, safety, and so much more. They make you feel like you are safe with them. But in reality, they are hiding the fact that they have this dark side. They wait till all your walls are down before they begin to show their true self.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. So, this is anything but uncommon. And yet, this topic doesn't seem to be talked about enough. So many people learn to shut out their feelings while they are in the middle of domestic violence. They will feel like they are alone when, in reality, they are anything but alone.

I am here to show you today that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. So many people experience this on a daily basis and don't say anything. Their abusers wield so much power over them that they are scared of saying anything. But most people don't know just how many resources there are for people who are in this kind of situation. Domestic abuse affects you in so many ways. And every case is different.

Physical Abuse

Domestic abuse doesn't always have to be hitting, but hitting or other physical traumas are the most common ways people see it. The bruises they hide on their backs, arms, legs, face, etc, are all major signs of abuse. Most abusers will isolate their victims in order to keep their crimes hidden, especially if the abuse signs are obvious. Maybe there aren't any physical markers to be seen. That doesn't mean that the abuser isn't still getting physical. Maybe it's shoving them aside harshly, pushing them to the ground, or throwing something at their partner. Either way, the abuser is using intimidation to keep you under lock and key.

Abuse can also be sexual, even in a relationship. The abuser might fully rape their partner. Yes, rape is still rape in a relationship. Maybe it is something simpler. Maybe they're forcing your head down between their legs, or they're moving your body to their command. Maybe they are trying to kiss you without your consent. Or maybe you consented to everything, but they coerced you into it. Which is still sexual assault. Any form of coercion they use is still domestic abuse.

They might even go so far as to force you to try and get pregnant. Being pregnant, especially in marriage, will often force couples to stay together because of the baby. Even if the abuser fakes being good to you before the pregnancy, that could easily change later on. Pregnancy can be a very terrifying thing when you are in an abusive relationship.

In some cases of abuse, they might not have even touched you at all. But they can still intimidate you in other ways. They might take out their anger on items. Many abusers punch holes in walls or break something valuable to make you feel scared. They might even make themselves feel bad about it later and offer to fix it. But that's just their way of faking remorse to get you to trust them again. They can do this over and over and over again to keep you coming back. They'll never lay a finger on you, but they'll break everything around them. And every broken thing is a constant reminder of what could happen. He could turn that fist towards you at any moment, and they'll use this scare tactic to keep you scared and locked in.

Or maybe nothing gets hurt or broken at all. But threats could be used instead. They could say things like, “Don't test what happens if I get angry.” They'll use their words to scare you into submission. They'll threaten your safety to keep you doing what they want. They might never follow through on threats, but it is still abusive behavior when you threaten to hurt the ones you say you love.

Mental Abuse

Sometimes the abuse never even heads towards violence. It can sometimes all be mental and emotional. Words can be just as debilitating as actions. They could physically be the best partner ever, but they are still saying things that hurt your mental health. They could say things like, “Why can't you ever cook this right?” Or, “You need to focus more on us than your friends.” Or, “You are the worst partner ever. I wish I had someone else.” Words often hit harder than fists.

Mental health is a fragile thing, and when your partner is constantly tearing you down, you'll slowly begin to believe them. You'll slowly feel your self-worth withering away. Then one day, you'll actually believe them. Your depression will grow and grow, and abusers will use this to their advantage. They'll make themselves seem like they are the only ones holding you together. They'll make themselves look like the cure to all your problems. You'll one day believe that you are nothing without them.

After all the mental abuse, you'll one day grow numb to it all. You'll just nod your head whenever they say mentally harmful things to you. When your friends and family ask how you are, you'll lie so that you don't have to hear the obvious things. Even your therapist won't know the full truth. You'll go on with your daily routine of pretending everything is perfectly okay.

Sometimes, the abuser will turn everything around on himself. When you bring up the red flags or threaten to leave them, they'll say bad things about themselves. They'll put themselves down to make you feel bad for even suggesting that. Sometimes, they'll even go so far as to threaten their own life. They'll say over and over again that you'll be responsible for their death if you leave them. You'll be so scared to leave them because you don't want to kill them. This is how so many victims get trapped into staying. You love them so much, you can't stand the idea of them being dead.

Even worse, they might even go so far as to start a suicidal act in front of you. They might be about to overdose on pills or they'll begin to hack into their own wrists. And they'll wait for you to scream and beg them to stop. And then they'll cry in your arms, and you'll feel useful again. They'll use their poor mental health as a way to keep you useful. You'll feel like you are the one curing him. When, in reality, they are only harming you. Eventually, you'll start to see the patterns. And hopefully, you'll see through the lies of them ending their own life.

Conclusion

I can promise to all of you out there that you are not alone. Why? Because I've been through it too. While I am writing this, I am still sporting the black eye my abuser gave me. It took many people to help me realize that I shouldn't be putting up with this. It even took a week before I even went to the police about the abuse. Now my abuser is facing a felony charge for domestic abuse.

All I am trying to say is that you don't have to put up with it. There are ways for you to escape. And I can guarantee that your friends and family will help you through it. And if you really have nobody, there are so many resources to help domestic abuse victims. And the police are more than happy to put those kinds of people behind bars. You can get help! You can escape! You can get protection!

You are worth more than those scumbags. They aren't worth even a second glance. The moment they don't treat you right, you should be heavily thinking about showing them the door. Not because you don't love them, but because you love yourself more. You can love that person with all your heart, but you still have to realize that they don't love you back. If a person really loved you, they wouldn't treat you like garbage. Just remember, you are worth everything. So act accordingly.

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Abigail Sulfridge
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This is Abigail Sulfridge! She is 19 years old from Boise, Idaho. She has been writing since she was a kid. Writing and Acting are her passions. But she also going to College of Western Idaho to be a teacher for elementary students. She works full time with Red Fox Home Care as a Medtech.