Domestic Violence is one of the most common types of violence in the United States, with 20 people victimized in each passing minute. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States, intended to highlight the warning signs and open a dialogue about preventing domestic abuse in personal relationships. While domestic abuse is often depicted in film or tv, many people aren’t aware of the character traits that suggest abuse in a relationship. 

According to Phoenix criminal defense lawyers, domestic violence is considered violent or aggressive behavior within the home, involving the violent abuse of a spouse, partner, or family member. This abuse usually evolves over time, starting with emotional abuse that escalates to violence. Domestic Violence organizations like NCADV are using this month to educate the public on the signs, so you can keep yourself safe and notice if a friend of family member is in an abusive situation. 

How to Spot Domestic Violence

There are a few common personality traits that most abusers share. Often these people are interested in control over their partner. Before that control becomes physical, many abusers will work to develop emotional control through a toxic relationship. Abusers will often start with monitoring their victim’s behavior and isolating them from other people. This can mean constant inquiries into where you are going, when you’ll be back, who you are going with, etc. An abuser may demand to go through your phone, email, or social media to ensure you are not doing something behind their back. 

In addition to social isolation, many abusers are very possessive, and use jealousy to keep their victims close. An abuser may cling to you, sabotage the time you spend alone with friends or family by constantly texting, calling, or starting fights if you don’t answer the phone the moment they call. These people may also make you feel guilty for wanting to spend time without them. This is a practice of emitting control, and ensuring they are able to keep you close. These tendencies also lend themselves to making the victim feel insecure and weak. Whenever an abuser starts a fight, they often make the victim feel like it’s their fault. Over time, this will encourage the victim to do whatever they can to avoid upsetting their abusive partner. This type of gaslighting is used to manipulate a victim and keep them under an aggressor’s emotional control. 

A few other signs include refusing to communicate, being cruel or constantly criticizing, controlling money or finances, extreme changes in mood, and threatening to commit suicicde if a victim were to leave. Many times, people will make excuses for their abusive or controlling partners by referring to them as “short tempered” or “hot headed”. This temper flare becomes an issue when over time, it begins to instill fear in an aggressor’s partner. Fear is a critical sign of violent relationships, as it may keep a partner from speaking out against their abuser for fear of retaliation. It may not be apparent at the beginning of a relationship, but emotional control often evolves into making the victim feel insecure, scared, and isolated. 

Domestic Violence in the United States

The statistics on how many people are domestically abused in the United States are staggering. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of physical domestic violence within their lifetime. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the country, including domestic abuse, rape, stalking, and homicide. A few quick statistics:

  • Women age 18 to 34 are the most likely to experience intimate partner violence. 
  • More than 12 million people are affected by intimate partner violence each year.
  • Nearly half of all women and men have experienced psychological aggression from a romantic partner.
  • 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.
  • 10.7% of women and 2.1% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

On average, it will take a victim seven tries to permanently leave an abusive partner. The isolation and control in the relationship will make a victim feel like they are leaving their entire life behind, because the abuser has cut off all of a victims’ other relationships. The relationship has also made them so insecure they feel as though they’d never make it on their own, and they’re better off tolerating the abuse.

There are a variety of resources for domestic violence survivors working to leave an abusive situation. If you notice a friend may be in an abusive relationship, offer them trust and support. If possible, provide them a safe place to stay and help them create a safety plan. This could involve setting aside money, clothing, and important documents. Despite the high numbers of domestic offenses, countless domestic violence survivors go on to lead happy lives with healthy relationships. 

If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic violence, call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.