Did you know? Domestic violence comes in different forms
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. It can take many forms and is present across all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
When most people hear the words “domestic violence,” they think of direct physical violence perpetrated against a victim. Although this can be very true, there are a variety of other behaviors that are identified as domestic violence:
- Financial abuse is using money or access to money as a way to manipulate and control another person and to inflict psychological distress. Examples may include taking money, denying money, restricting access to household finances and stealing money or possessions.
- Sexual abuse is forcing or coercing someone to engage in sexual behavior. This can include engaging in sexual behaviors when one of the people involved is unable to consent due to intoxication, mental illness or age. Sexual abuse can also be sexual behavior in which one person believes they are consenting to a certain set of behaviors while the other person intends to violate the initially agreed upon consent. An example of this is video recording a sexual act without the full consent and knowledge of the people involved. Another example would be “stealthing,” in which during consensual sexual behavior, the male wearing the condom removes it during intercourse without the knowledge and consent of the other person.
- Emotional abuse, verbal abuse and mental abuse take many of the same forms, with the primary intention to control, degrade and punish. Some examples include calling someone names, putting them down, habitually blaming and scapegoating, intimidating through yelling or threats, threatening to destroy pets or personal belongings, stonewalling or using children or grandchildren to control another person.
As providers of domestic violence treatment, we have seen an increase in abusive behaviors perpetrated via social media, smartphones and other forms of electronic communication. Some examples include sending multiple, unsolicited text messages of a harassing nature or using social media such as Snapchat to identify a person’s location for the purpose of stalking.
Other examples of the use of social media to inflict emotional abuse may include the posting of harassing statements, threats, embarrassing images or other forms of sabotage on Facebook in order to inflict emotional pain. Another relatively new example that has been highlighted in the media is revenge porn, in which sexually explicit images of an individual are released without their consent via social media in order to humiliate, degrade, extort and exploit a current or past intimate partner.
As we move into Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our goal is to promote awareness of the various forms of domestic violence. With the ever-changing landscape that is social media and electronic communication, it is even more important to understand how these mechanisms are being exploited and used to commit acts of abuse.
Regardless of what mechanism is used to perpetrate domestic violence, the end result is emotional and physical abuse. The end goal of promoting awareness and providing treatment services to both victims and perpetrators is to promote our belief in “No More Victims.”
Bryan DeNure, LCPC and Nisa Johnson, LCSW provide domestic violence evaluations as well as individual and group treatment for domestic violence at Advocate Medical Group Behavioral Health in Bloomington, Ill.