What is Domestic Violence?Domestic violence is a range of behaviors used to establish power and exert control by one intimate partner over the other. Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that adults or adolescents use against their current or former intimate partners. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual; living together, separated, or dating.
Types of Domestic Violence
Punching, biting, kicking, threatening to hit, breaking things, excessive tickling, shoving, throwing things, poking, scratching, strangulation, reckless driving, murder.
Emotional, Verbal and Psychological Abuse
Yelling, cursing, insults, mimicking, degrading comments, twisting words, guilt-producing statements, sarcasm, using sensitive information against you, demanding, accusations, playing mind games such as denying previous abusive incidents or commitments made previously, undercutting your sense of reality.
Forcing sex, sexually inappropriate acts (in private or in public), withholding sex, intimidation to perform non-mutual sexual acts, sexual threats with objects, forcing engaging in or the watching of pornography.
Controlling all the money, sabotaging attempts to go to work or school, not allowing partner to work outside the home, refusing to work and forcing partner to support the family, running up credit cards in partner’s name.
Denying freedom to worship, ridiculing religion, destroying religious icons, using religious texts to justify abuse or to keep partner from leaving.
What is the “Cycle of Violence?”
Violence in an abusive relationship does not always occur at random times. It often follows a repeating cycle with three phases:
Victims report that their partner becomes increasingly irritable, frustrated, and unable to cope with everyday stresses. The victim tries to keep the peace or tries to stay out of the abuser’s way. The victim’s goal is to postpone or prevent the next incidence of violence.
Explosion and Violence
The abuser feels like they are losing control of their victim and engage in abusive behavior to punish the victim and regain control over them. Fighting back can make the violence worse. Victims often deny the seriousness and accept the blame.
The Calm (Honeymoon Phase)
Both partners deny that there is an ongoing problem. The victim may make excuses or blame themselves for the latest incident. The abuser may be sorry for overreacting and will assure the victim that it will not happen again. Sometimes, the abuser may deny or minimize the abuse that happened or blame the victim for the abuser’s own actions.
All hope it won’t happen again, but too often the cycle repeats itself.
Why do They Abuse?
The abuser learned to be violent toward their partners from their families and/or other role models, especially those seen in the media.
Many traditional customs permit, encourage, or accept violence as a normal part of relationships.
Abuse is seen as deeply personal; as a result, many people feel “It’s none of my business” and do not intervene, so the victim suffers in silence.
Abusers often escalate their violence when they feel they are losing control in the relationship, especially when the victim is trying to leave.
Abusers often blame the abuse on drugs or alcohol, claiming they lost control or didn’t know what they were doing. Drinkers, however, rarely beat up their drinking buddies or the police, so this is clearly not the case. Contrary to their claims, abusers are in control of their abusive behavior.
Effects on Children
- Embarrassment, shame, guilt, and self-blame
- Grief for family and personal losses
- Fear of abandonment
- Anger because of the violence and chaos in their lives
- Aggressive or passive
- Overachieving or underachieving
- Refusing to go to school
- Bedwetting and nightmares
- Manipulation, dependency, mood swings
- Isolation from friends and relatives
- Difficulty in trusting, especially adults
- Poor anger management and problem solving skills
- Excessive social involvement to avoid being at home
- Difficulty making and keeping friendships
- Nervous, anxious, short attention span
- Frequently ill
- Poor personal hygiene
- Regression in development
- High risk play
Am I in an Abusive Relationship?
You may be abused if you:
- Have little or no say in decisions.
- Are not able to go places or talk to people without causing a fight.
- Are not allowed to go to work or school.
- Are afraid of your partner’s temper.
- Feel an urge to “rescue” your partner because your partner is troubled.
- Find yourself apologizing to yourself or to others for your partner’s behavior.
- Make decisions about activities and friends according to what your partner wants or how your partner will react.
If You Are Hurt, What Can You Do?There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself:
Call the Police or Sheriff
Assault, even by family members, is a crime. The police often have information about shelters and other agencies that help victims of domestic violence.
Or have someone come and stay with you. Go to a friend’s house or call the Alliance Crisis Hotline for assistance in locating a shelter. If you believe that you and your family are in danger, call the police and leave immediately.
Get medical attention
Either from your own doctor or a hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to take photographs of your injuries. Keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.
Contact the Alliance about a temporary restraining order and other free services available to you.
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS TO REMEMBER
Bakersfield Police Department: Non-Emergency Number (661) 321-7111
Kern County Sheriff’s Office: Non-Emergency Number (661) 861-3110
Kern County Victim Services: Assistance Program (661) 868-2400
Legal Assistance in Kern County:
Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance (661) 325-5943
Superior Court, Family Law Facilitator (661) 868-2400
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