What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is term we uses to describe physical abuse, but domestic violence is much more than that. Domestic violence is a pattern of assault and coercive behaviors, attitudes, and expectations, including physical, sexual, verbal and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults and adolescents use against their intimate partners. Domestic violence is used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another. Here are some examples:
Physical Abuse: includes pushing, shoving, pinching, scratching, hitting, kicking, slapping, abandoning in a dangerous place, and holding someone to keep her from leaving.
Sexual Abuse: includes continued sexual advances after being told “no,” unwanted or uncomfortable touching, calling someone sexually derogatory names, and forced sex.
Emotional/Verbal Abuse: includes name-calling, constant criticizing, threatening, public humiliation, controlling behavior, isolating from others, behaving jealously, and destroying possessions.
Digital Abuse: writing something online that isn’t true; sharing information that a person didn't want shared, spreading false rumors, cyber bullying, threatening physical harm, impersonation (cat-fishing), spying, posting embarrassing photos or video, being pressured to send naked photos, being teased, and encouraging people to hurt themselves.
Financial Abuse: sabotages employment opportunities, forbids you from working, controls how money is spent, denies you direct access to bank accounts, gives you a low allowance to live on, refuses to pay bills for accounts that are in your name in order to ruin your credit, forces you to turn over paychecks or public benefits checks, withholds money for basic necessities like food and medication.
Stalking: following you and showing up wherever you are, send unwanted gifts or letters,monitor your phone calls or computer use, use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems to track where you go, drive by or hang out at your home or work, finding information about you by using public records or online search services, going through your garbage, contacting your friends or family to find you.
After all of this abuse, how can abusers create a new way to abuse? In many religions divorce or separation is looked down on and even forbidden. This gives abusers the power and control in the relationship and leaves the victim feeling alone and lost. Pastors and leaders are encouraged to get domestic violence training to better equip them to recognize domestic abuse, appropriately respond, and counsel wisely.
So, what does religious abuse look like?
Religious Abuse: Using beliefs to manipulate someone, preventing someone from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs in a relationship, forcing someone to violate their religious beliefs or practices, ridiculing or minimizing your partners beliefs.
Why do people stay? Although their are many reasons to why someone might stay in an abusive rleationship, here are a few examples...
Love: So often, the victim feels love for their abusive partner. They may have children with them and want to maintain their family. Abusive people can often be charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship, and the victim may hope that their partner will go back to being that person. They may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely.
Cultural/Religious Reasons: Traditional gender roles supported by someone’s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family.
Language Barriers/Immigration Status: If a person is undocumented, they may fear that reporting the abuse will affect their immigration status. Also, if their first language isn’t English, it can be difficult to express the depth of their situation to others.
Lack of Money/Resources: Financial abuse is common, and a victim may be financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, access to resources or even a place to go, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship. This feeling of helplessness can be especially strong if the person lives with their abusive partner.
Disability: When someone is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship. This dependency could heavily influence their decision to stay in an abusive relationship.