Dating violence questions
Many victims are never physically or sexually assaulted but are controlled and terrorized by their partners’ use of non-physical tactics such as: verbal, emotional/psychological abuse; coercion and threats; isolation; minimizing, denying, blaming; using children; intimidation; and economic abuse. Victims can be from any socio-economic group, education level, gender or ethnicity. And while victims can be from any walk of life, research shows that racial and ethnic minority women and men continue to bear a relatively heavier burden of sexual violence, stalking, and domestic violence . Learn more from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s handout, Male Victims of Violence. As with victims, abusers can come from any walk of life – rich, poor, young, or old, and any gender, background or ethnicity. But there are some common traits shared by many abusers.They may be charming, jealous, controlling, and manipulative and they may blame others for their problems.They may rush into a relationship (“sweep you off your feet” or proclaim “love at first sight”) and insist that you spend all your time with them. One study showed that boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults. There are boys who are abusive as adults but never witnessed it in the home, and others who witnessed it in the home but decided they were not going to repeat that behavior.These are “red flags,” but there are often no signs at all. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and protective or resiliency factors all influence beliefs and behaviors as do other factors such as peers, the media, and social norms. Some studies show that women are as violent as men, or that they initiate violence as much as men do.The victim may still love the abuser; they just want the abuse to stop.(And the abuser may promise it’ll never happen again.) They may have limited financial resources and/or social supports to assist them with the expense and the logistics of starting over.
For more information, see the “Friends, Family, Co-Workers and Bystanders” chapter of Finding Safety & Support, starting on page 59. It is important to consider your own safety any time you are dealing with an abuser. Another is to talk to the abuser about your concerns.Often, victims’ fears are based on direct threats made by the abuser.And victims might be afraid to leave because abuse can get much worse after a victim leaves, when the abuser realizes they are losing control. Many domestic homicides take place during or after a victim has left the relationship. The NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline, 1-800-942-6906, is a resource for victims, family members, friends and others.It is not caused by drugs or alcohol (although these things can make abuse worse) or by anything the victim did to “provoke” the abuser. A bad economy or personal financial struggles will not cause someone to be abusive. But there may be situations in which an officer arriving on the scene could cause more problems for the victim.
Abuse is not caused by a bad day, or “buttons that got pushed.” It’s not a “two-way street” or a “lover’s quarrel” and it doesn’t “take two to tango.” Abuse is always a choice. However, in homes where one partner is already abusive, strained finances and unemployment can make domestic violence worse. If possible, find out what the victim would prefer.Domestic violence victims often feel like the abuse is their problem and their fault, and that they are responsible for fixing the relationship.