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Domestic violence is a pattern of coercing behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation or intimidation. Over time these behaviors increase in frequency and severity.

Domestic Violence can occur in any relationship. We serve all victims of domestic violence, female or male, in heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships.

Domestic violence is about obtaining power and control over another person.

 

The following is a list of signs common to abusive and battering personalities.  Though this list may not predict with absolute certainty, it is a good place to start.

JEALOUSY

  • Is suspicious about everybody you talk to
  • Wants to be with you constantly
  • Doesn't want you to spend time with your friends

CONTROLLING BEHAVIORS

  • Tries to decide what you do and with whom you spend time
  • Gives orders and expects you to follow them
  • Always decides where you go, what you do, and tells you what to wear
  • Hides controlling behavior behind pretending to be concerned about your safety

QUICK INVOLVEMENT

  • Pressures you to go together right away
  • Intense physical and emotional involvement right away
  • Claims love at first sight

UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS

  • Expects you to put up with quickly changing moods
  • Expects you to be available all of the time
  • Expects you to forgive and forget immediately

ISOLATION

  • Discourages you from spending time with your friends
  • Puts down everyone you know, including your family and friends
  • Tries to turn you against your parents

BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS AND FEELINGS

  • If there are problems at school or at work, it is always someone else's fault
  • Blames you for everything that goes wrong in the relationship

OVERLY SENSITIVE

  • Is easily insulted
  • Sees everything as personal attacks
  • Blows things out of proportion

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There are several general reactions that children from violent homes are likely to show.  The same emotional reaction can be acted out differently according to the child's age.

  1. Feeling Responsible for the Abuse
     A child might think, "If I had been a good girl/boy, Daddy wouldn't have hit Mommy."

  2. Constant Anxiety
     Even when things are calm, one never knows when the next fight will start.

  3. Guilt for not Stopping the Abuse
     Children also experience guilt because they cannot stop the abuse, even though the abuse is beyond the child's control.

  4. Grief
     Children who are separated from the abuser are in the process of grieving over the loss.  Children may also grieve over losing the life style and positive image of the abuser they had before the violence began.

  5. Ambivalence
     The idea of not knowing how one feels or having two different emotions at the same time is very difficult for children.  A child who says, "I don't know how I feel about it," may not be hedging, but rather is confused about feelings.

  6. Fear of Abandonment
     Children removed from one parent as a result of violent acts may have strong fears that the other parent could also leave them or die.   Thus, a child may refuse to leave their mother, even for short time periods.

  7. Need for Excessive Adult Attention
     This need can be especially difficult for mothers who are trying to deal with their own pain and decisions.

  8. Fear of Physical Harm to Themselves
     A significant percentage of children witnessing violence are also abused.  They may worry that the abuser will find them and abduct or harm them.   Another worry is that the abuser will be angry and retaliate if they return home.   These are often very realistic fears.

  9. Embarrassment
     Especially for older children, sensitivity to the stigma of spouse abuse may result in shame.

10. Worry about the Future
     The uncertainty within their daily lives may make children feel that life will continue to be unpredictable.

11. Guilt about Abuser
     A child may feel guilty or confused about the positive feelings s/he has for the abuser.

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