by Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Did you know that someone is physically, sexually, psychologically or verbally abused by an intimate partner every 15 seconds? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the United States alone, 1.3 million women and 830,000 men are assaulted every year by people they believe love them.
Unfortunately, a lot of both abusers and victims don't realize they are in an abusive cycle. Victims may have a difficult time recognizing that they're being abused, until they become seriously hurt, either emotionally or physically. Abusers themselves may not realize that their behavior is abusive, especially if they were raised in an abusive family and this type of behavior is just considered "normal".
There are so many warning signs of domestic abuse, but here are a few very important things to look for in both your relationship and those of friends and family members.
- Frequent criticism, verbal put-downs, threats, demeaning and embarrassing remarks in front of others, name calling, bullying
- Harassment, stalking, jealousy, constant checking up on you, monitoring your phone calls and emails
- Refusal to let you see your friends and family members (keeping you isolated), or insists on accompanying you everywhere you go
- Intimidating through the use of anger, humiliation, threatening gestures
- Destroying your personal belongings
- Forcing you to have sex against your will, biting, hitting, kicking, choking, etc.
- Using weapons to harm you or others you love.
If you recognize these warning signs in yourself (a potential abuser), or in your relationship (a potential victim), it's important to get help and keep yourself safe. If you were raised in an abusive family, it's equally important to get help to ensure you STOP THE CYCLE.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP:
- Take your situation seriously and trust your feelings. If you feel you're being abused, that's all that matters!
- Plan for your safety! Ensuring your safety (and that of your children) is the ultimate concern when considering leaving an abusive relationship.
- Attend counseling or a support group to gain knowledge and support from others.
- Know where you can go for help and keep emergency numbers and information easily accessible.
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP in Minnesota:
Domestic Abuse Project (both Men's & Women's programs, shelter and 24-hr crisis assistance, therapy groups)
24-hour Domestic Violence Crisis Line, 1-866-223-1111
24-hr Hotline (West Metro), 612-825-0000
24-hr Hotline (East Metro), 651-770-0777
Resources by MN county
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com