What is domestic violence and who suffers from it?

We often talk about youth violence, king hit attacks and alcohol-fuelled assaults. But not all violence happens out in the streets – a lot of it happens at home, behind closed doors. Domestic violence is a growing problem in our society, particularly during tough economic times when financial hardship and unemployment can result in alcohol abuse, anger and violence.

Domestic violence can happen in any relationship and is also known as partner or intimate violence. You don’t have to be living with someone for it to be classified as domestic violence: the term applies to any sort of attack that takes place within a family or relationship. People from all socio-economic backgrounds, races, sexualities and genders can be victims – and that includes men too.

Domestic violence isn’t just physical, it can take many forms:

Physical – If someone hurts you, or threatens to hurt you, a loved one or a pet, this is physical abuse.

Sexual – Includes any unwanted sexual behaviour. Non-consenting sexual behaviour in romantic relationships is still classified as sexual assault and/or rape.

Emotional – This form of abuse often goes unrecognised, but it can be just as damaging. It can include destructive criticism, insults, anger, verbal violence and more.

Financial – Controlling someone’s money, making them financially dependent on their abuser and/or making them ask for money are all forms of financial abuse.

Social – If someone isolates you from friends and family, controls where you go and who you go out with or insults you in front of other people, they are socially violent towards you and you need to take action.

Although physical violence is thought of as the most serious form of domestic abuse, this is not necessarily the case. All forms of abuse can leave people feeling anxious, depressed and even suicidal. There is often a serious long term impact on self-esteem. Most domestic violence involves more than one of the above forms of abuse.

Violence is always frightening, but it’s all the more difficult when it’s at the hands of someone you love, trust or care about. Many victims blame themselves, and abusers often use verbal and emotional violence to increase the victim’s sense of guilt and isolation. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, it’s important to remember that NOBODY has the right to hurt you; and no matter what you are being told, you do NOT deserve to be treated this way.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, seek help today.