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Domestic Abuse: Why It’s Important To Seek Help

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Photo via Pixabay by Alexas_Fotos

Intimate Partner Violence—more commonly referred to as domestic violence--affects millions of people every year, although accurate numbers are hard to pin down because of the stigma that surrounds it. For victims and their loved ones, talking about abuse is painful and often carries a sense of shame, despite the fact that it is not the fault of the victim. That’s why it is important to learn how to talk about IPV, and to understand why it is so important to seek help if you are in a dangerous situation. 

Abusers have many reasons behind violent behavior, including substance abuse, having suffered trauma that has caused them to be emotionally unstable, a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, or an inability to resolve conflict, among others. The ways in which a person can be abusive are just as varied, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, where abuse is defined as:

“A pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that may include inflicted physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation and threats. These behaviors are perpetuated by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent, and one aimed at establishing control by one partner over the other.”

Because substance abuse is often a factor in domestic violence situations, it’s important for the individual to seek help as soon as possible and consider therapy in conjunction with rehabilitation services. This is not to say that substances cause violence, only that there is a strong link between drugs, alcohol, and domestic abuse. A study in New York showed that for one year, 92% of men who had abused their partners did so after abusing a substance on the same day. One of the reasons for this is likely simply that alcohol and certain drugs increase impulsivity and raise emotions, creating a likelihood for violence.

For victims of Intimate Partner Violence, life can become full of anxiety, pain, and fear. Not knowing what will set off the abuser or trigger a violent episode leaves the victim feeling a loss of control over the own lives and fear for what the next day will bring. These feelings are especially difficult for children; even if they are not victims of physical abuse but live in the same house where abuse is taking place, it can be severely damaging and can have long-lasting effects. 

Children who witness abuse or its aftermath are often anxious, constantly on guard, ashamed, worthless, isolated, and hopeless. They may feel as though they need to act out in order to get attention or because they feel so powerless in other aspects of their lives. The pattern of abuse is easy to find in some adult abusers; often, they were victims themselves at one point in their lives.

Any type of abuse can cause the victim to experience depression, rage, suicidal thoughts, and physical pain or injury. It can also lead to substance abuse itself, as the victim attempts to self-medicate following a violent encounter. If you have experienced abuse of any kind, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. It is never easy to leave a bad situation, particularly if children are involved, but it is important to know your options and to understand that your life is worth it.