International Domestic Violence guide
Are you or someone you know in an abusive relationship? Domestic violence has some notorious signs that reveal who might need help to deal with them. These symptoms could be emotional, physical, financial, sexual, etc. Find out the warning signs of abuse, how to correctly identify it, and what steps to take if you’re in a situation of abuse or know someone who might be.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence traditionally involves:
- Bodily injury.
- Physical harm.
- The infliction of imminent damage.
- Bodily injury or assault.
- Sexual assault of one family or household member by another.
- Stalking of a family or household member by another household member.
It is an attempt by a person in an intimate relationship, marriage, or cohabitation arrangement to control the other and limit their autonomy. Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence and domestic abuse aren’t the same, though they overlap a lot.
The purpose of domestic violence isn’t necessarily to wantonly hurt the victim: it is to gain control over the victim through fear. Abusers use all sorts of emotionally manipulative tactics to assert their dominance over the victim: guilt-tripping, shaming, bullying, and more. These tactics work insidiously and progressively, with the purpose of eroding the victim’s self-worth and keeping them under the abuser’s control.
Most of the time, the domestic abuser is conflated with the spouse. However, family or household member includes spouses,
Abusive partners could possibly punch, bite, yell or destroy your personal belongings. On top of that, if there’s a difference in strength between you and the abuser, they will find a moment where you cannot fight back or take you by surprise. They might wait until you’re tired from work or when you’re asleep to engage in their damaging behaviors. They might even use a weapon to get the upper hand on you.
Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. It can happen in heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships. It can happen across any age range, socioeconomic status, and ethnic background. It might manifest differently depending on the gender and sex of the survivor.
The cycle of violence usually begins with the abuser threatening violence if the survivor doesn’t meet their conditions and striking them once they are not. The abuser will then apologize and promise change, offer lavish gifts, and engage in trauma bonding to gaslight the victim into downplaying the abuse and staying.
Domestic violence in women
Women make up roughly 85% of domestic abuse survivors. Domestic violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting them across their entire life span due to negative societal views towards women, at many times putting them in a position vulnerable to violence.
In many countries, domestic violence toward women has been normalized and perpetuated due to abusers seeing their parents engage in domestic violence.
Domestic violence towards women partly relates to differences between men and women in strength and size, with many husbands wrongly believing that they are exercising a right.
There’s a chance that domestic violence towards women might begin or increase during pregnancy. The abuser might believe that the survivor is more vulnerable and dependent due to them carrying the baby.
The resources meant to help victims of domestic abuse tend to be geared towards women, considering the statistics surrounding the frequency of women in domestic abuse situations. Keep reading to learn more about resources to seek out when in cases of domestic violence
Domestic violence in men
While women are victimized, men also experience verbal and emotionally abused. Men tend to avoid coming forward and reporting abuse because they feel embarrassed at speaking up about domestic violence.
Male survivors of domestic violence could feel societal stigma to shrug off their experience and fight back against their abuser. This happens mostly when the abuser is a female partner.
On the other hand, a male survivor might feel trapped in a same-sex domestically violent relationship if they are not ready to open up about their relationship status.
Abusers of gay or bisexual men might weaponize this by threatening to out them with their family, workplace, and even social media if the abuse is reported. This is also another tactic for the abuser to seize control of the survivor’s autonomy.
Statistics determined that 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men have experienced domestic violence by a household member or intimate partner during their lifetime. 29% of heterosexual men have also reported experiencing domestic violence.
Most of the resources allocated to the assistance of survivors are targeted toward women in heterosexual relationships. Toxic masculinity has reinforced the stereotype that men should be in control and exert power over the household, whether other inhabitants are women or men.
Men who are being abused should reach out to a local domestic violence shelter. It doesn’t matter if the shelter is women-only: they can still provide help to all victims of abuse.
Domestic violence in members of the LGBTQ+ community
If you’re part of the LGBT community, you might also be domestically abused by household members:
- They threaten to inform family and community members about your gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Your attempts to escape the relationship by labeling you as someone who’s gay, transgender, or bisexual.
- They accuse you of not being bisexual, gay, or transgender.
- It justifies their abuse with the excuse that all men are aggressive and violent.
Examples of domestic abuse
Domestic abuse can take many forms and isn’t limited to physical abuse. Learn to identify the patterns of an abuser by examining their behaviors. To better illustrate how to identify domestic abuse, here’s a comprehensive list of behaviors that could indicate domestic abuse:
- Partner harasses you on social media to manipulate you into fulfilling their demands.
- Ex-spouse threatens to control how you spend your money or hijacks into shared assets to gain power over you.
- Showing, hitting and throwing objects at the survivor.
- Manipulating the survivor with threats of self-harm.
- Threatening children, pets, and other third parties and loved ones of the survivor.
- Your partner gaslights you by denying your reality and making you question your sanity as a result.
- You feel like you’re walking on eggshells whenever you interact with them.
- You constantly dread “doing something wrong” and triggering a harmful reaction.
- They make backhanded comments about you, your body, or your friends to perpetuate their self-serving narrative.
- They make unnecessarily dangerous jokes about you.
- They ignore your achievements and weaponize them against you.
- They guilt-trip you.
If it’s a relative, coworker, or friend, these are some signs that could potentially indicate domestic violence:
- Darkened eyes.
- Bruises across the body.
- Cracked lips.
- Purple marks on the neck They might have frequent physical injuries, being punched, and knocked down, and have an inconsistent explanation for these injuries.
- They might be underperforming at work.
Who should you call for help?
If you’re undergoing a situation of domestic violence, it might be unclear how to search for help if you don’t know where.
- If you’re in an emergency with imminent danger, call 911 immediately or any law enforcement agency that can act right away.
- If the situation isn’t urgent, you should always turn to a loved one, coworker, friend, relative, or even a neighbor for support.
- They can provide you with a listening ear and serve as safety networks in the future.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline in your home country.
- We’ve compiled a list of all national hotlines below.
- Contact a local shelter or crisis center.
What to do if you suspect a loved one to be a survivor
First, you need to find a safe way to bring up the subject and strike a conversation with the survivor. If your survivor is a loved one, a coworker, or a friend, you might ask to meet them in a public place or at your home. Make sure this is a location outside of the boundaries of the suspected abuser. This ensures that the survivor won’t feel pressured to act differently or outright threatened by the presence of the suspected or known abuser.
If the suspected survivor had become strangely quiet when they were chatty at work or if they’ve started wearing sweatshirts and hoodies to cover up bruises, there’s a possibility they are survivors of domestic abuse.
When you strike up the conversation, please provide them with safety by promising them that you’ll be discreet about the information they’ll share. If they don’t feel like opening up even after this, then it might be best to wait until they come forward themselves. You already laid out the seeds for them to feel supported and accepted in a non-judgmental environment, and every survivor processes domestic abuse at their own rate.
If the survivor opens up about what’s going on, listen to their story without judging them. Suppress the urge to go ahead and offer them advice or suggesting them immediate steps of action. Abuse shouldn’t be downplayed, but it takes survivors a considerable amount of willpower and trust to come forward, even to a close friend.
Be a listening ear, and the survivor will provide you with ways you can help them. They need someone that will listen to them safely.
You can also ask them questions to better clarify and understand the situation: timeframes, triggering events, and the possibility of collected evidence, but your role should mostly be listening and validating.
Let the survivor know that you believe them. Most of the time, domestic abuse is caused by an excessive need for control and not outright anger towards the survivor. Most of the time, survivors are afraid to come forward because of the threats of retaliation their abusers intimidate them with, or they outright believe that no one would believe them.
Validate their emotions by reminding them that you believe in them, that they aren’t at fault for going through their situation, and that they are undeserving of their abuse.
There are chances the survivor will feel guilty about themselves, angry, or they might justify their abuser’s behavior due to gaslighting.
There’s a chance they could be in self-denial that they’ve been abused or that they’ve become so used to the cycle of violence that they have normalized the behaviors as part of their lifestyle.
After validating their feelings, remind the victim that violence and abuse aren’t components of healthy relationships and show them a genuine concern for their safety.
Document abuse for your safety
Keeping track of the abuse would be the last thing on many survivors’ minds. However, documenting abuse can be one of the essential components of your case when the time comes to file charges, file for custody of your children or file for divorce.
Among the types of documentation that can help your case, verbal, medical and digital accounts of the abuse can increase the chances of a positive resolution in your favor.
Verbal accounts include any witnesses, including yourself. Anybody who could see the physical, verbal, financial, emotional, or sexual abuse from the abuser to the survivor can be a witness. These could possibly testify on your behalf when the time comes to press charges.
Medical reports of injuries caused by the abuse are helpful, too, meaning you should consult a doctor about ways they can make notes of injuries. Request them to write a cause of damage on the medical reports to function as evidence.
Pictures of broken objects, a destroyed home, or weapons used by the abuser are also helpful evidence.
If you have been documenting the abuse on a diary or even an online support group, you can use it as an alternative that helps keep track of the abuse’s exact dates and timeframes.
Threatening calls, emails, texts, and screenshots of an immense number of missed calls are examples of digital evidence.
Ensure that you keep all your evidence in a safe place, if possible way out of the reach of the abuser and outside the boundaries of your home. Keep it at a family member’s home, in a safe box, or even in your workplace as long as your abuser has no access to it.
Come up with a safety plan.
Suppose you’re a survivor, or you’re helping a survivor. In that case, it’s a brilliant idea to develop a safety escape plan that can be put in motion after a recurring domestic violence incident or if they desire to leave the situation immediately.
Even if the survivor isn’t ready to carry out the plan from the start, just coming up with the idea to do it is enough to visualize the steps needed to do it and mentally prepare when the time comes from it.
A safety plan should always include the following: –
A shelter for the survivor if they decide to leave the home. It could be their parents’ house, friends’ houses, or even domestic violence shelters.
An excuse to leave without their abuser immediately suspecting an escape plan
A quick escape carrier or bag where the survivor stores cash, identifications, social security cards, keys, clothes, first-aid kits and other important objects.
Emergency contacts on hand, such as the local domestic violence hotline. It would be wise to alert loved ones about the domestic violence hotlines and the situation itself so they can be prepared to provide help should the situation arise.
Abusers could use technology to keep track of the survivor’s whereabouts. To prevent this, constantly clear your viewing history and change your personal account’s email passwords. Some abusers could use spyware to keep track of emails and websites, possibly alerting them of a safety plan. It might be wise to use the workplace computer or a friends’ own to seek help safely.
Why do survivors stay?
There are many reasons why survivors stay in situations of domestic abuse. They might be afraid that they’ll be harmed if they leave or might lack means to survive on their own. They might be pressed by other loved ones to stay in their relationship, could stay due to parenting responsibilities or might simply believe that domestic abuse is acceptable.
You can help the survivor find support and resources by providing them with hotlines, support groups, social services and shelters.
On the other hand, avoid pushing the survivor and bashing them for remaining in their situation. It’s not always easy for survivors to quickly process domestic violence and much less to act on it immediately.
The choice for them to love should be their own to make. Please encourage the survivor to seek help and provide them with safety networks and information on proceeding with the safety plan.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of helpful resources for you or loved ones you might suspect to be in a situation of domestic violence.
Resources, support groups, and hotlines
United States National Domestic Violence Hotline
Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
Text “START” to 88788
UK National Domestic Violence Hotline
UK Freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
National Centre for Domestic Violence
Call: 0800 970 2070
Text: NCDV to 60777
Email: [email protected]
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
Call: 0800 027 1234
Email: [email protected]
Online chat: https://sdafmh-chat.devsoc.org/#/
Scottish Women’s Aid Call: 0131 226 6606
Live Fear Free Hotline, Wales
Call: 0808 80 10 800
Email: [email protected]
European Countries Hotline Directory
Counselling Line for Women and Girls(+355 422 3340)
National Hotline on Domestic Violence(+374 105 428 280800 80 850)
Hotline of the Armenian Lighthouse Charitable Foundation(2080)
Women’s Helpline against Violence(0800 222 555)
Clean World Social Union Aid to Women(+99 412 408 5696)
National Hotline for survivors of domestic violence(8 801 100 8 801)
National Toll-free Children Helpline(8 801 100 16 11)
Hotline for Safe Migration(113)
Hotline for all types of violence, domestic (any member of the family) sexual violence, honour related violence, and more, child abuse, elder abuse (1712 (Flemish))
Ecoutes Violences Conjugales (for marital violence) (0800 30 030 (French))
SOS Viol (for sexual violence) (+32 2 534 36 36 (French))
Mon Mariage M’appartient (forced marriage helpline) (0800 90 901 (French))
Crisis Situation Helpline (for persons in distress) (106 (Flemish)107 (French)108 (German))
Bosnia and Herzegovina
SOS Line for Help of Women and Children, victims of domestic violence (1264 (Republika Srpska)1265 (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina))
Women’s Helpline (+359 2 981 76 86)
Autonomous Women’s House Zagreb (0800 55 44)
Harbri Telephone (Children’s Helpline) (116 111)
SOS Helpline for Victims of Trafficking (0800 77 99)
Center for Emergency Assistance Helpline (1440)
DONA Line (+420 251 51 13 13)
Safety Children’s Line (116 111)
Lev Uden Vold (1888)
Women’s Line (+358 800 02400)
Violences Femmes Info (3919)
Viols Femmes Information (0800 05 95 95)
National Domestic Violence Hotline (309 903)
Tbilisi Crisis Center of ‘Sakhli’ Advice Center for Women (+995 5952 32 101)
National Women’s Helpline (08000 116 016)
National Center for Social Solidarity (E.K.K.A.) (for persons in different crisis situations, including domestic violence) (197)
General Secretariat for Gender Equality (15 900)
NaNE Helpline for Battered Women and Children (06 80 505 101+36 4 06 30 006 (for sexual violence))
Kvennaathvarfið shelter helpline (561 1205)
National Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900)
Antiviolenza Donne (1522)
Call: 833-SAFE-833 (833-723-3833)
Direct Line for Victims of Violence (0800 11112)
SOS Linja (+381 39 033 00 98)
Center Marta for Trafficking Victims (800 2012)
Crisis Helpline (6722292227722292)
Children’s Trust Helpline (116 111)
Women’s Helpline Frauenhaus Liechtenstein (+423 380 02 03)
Women’s Line (8800 66 366)
Fraentelefon (12 344)
National SOS Line (15 700)
National SOS Line – Phone of Trust (15 315)
SOS National Mobile Line (+389 75 141 700 +389 77 141 700 +389 70 141 700)
Appogg Agency Supportline (179)
Trust Line (8008 8008)
SOS Helpline for Victims of Violence (080 111 111)
Veilig Thuis (for victims of domestic violence and child abuse) (0800 2000)
Call: 0800 733 843
National Helpline for Survivors of Sexual Abuse (800 57 000July)
Crisis Situation Helpline (800 40 008)
National Emergency Service for Survivors of Family Violence Blue Line (22 668 70 00)
National Emergency Service for Survivors of Family Violence (801 12 00 02)
Serviço de Informação às Vitimas de Violéncia Doméstica (800 202 148)
Bucharest: Sensi Blu Foundation (021 311 46 36)
Bucharest: ADRA (021 25 25 117)
Iasi: CMSC (023 225 29 20)
Targu Mures: IEESR (026 521 16 99)
Sibiu: A.L.E.G. (075 389 35 31)
Baia Mare: Centru Artemis (0262 25 07 70)
Timisoara: APFR (0256 29 3183)
ANNA (National Center for the Prevention of Violence) (08800 700 600)
Helpline for victims of domestic violence (0800 100 600)
Network of Women’s Hotline in Vojvodina (0800 10 10 10)
National Line for Women Surviving Violence (0800 212 212)
SOS Helpline for Women and Children – Victims of Violence (080 11 55)
Call: 0800 150 150
People Opposing Women Abuse – 011 642 4345
Helpline for Information and Legal Advice on Gender Violence (016)
Terrafem (020 52 1010)
Kvinnofridslinjen (020 50 50 50)
Dargebotene Hand (crisis helpline) (143)
Hürriyet Emergency Domestic Violence Hotline (+90 212 656 9696)
Social Service Counseling Line for Family, Women, Children, and the Disabled (183)
Domestic Violence Counteraction and Child Rights Protection Helpline (0800 500 3350800 500 336)