When most people think of marriage, they think of love, support, and dedication. Unfortunately, in many marital relationships, these concepts don’t exist. Instead of love and support, many marriages suffer from domestic abuse.
It is estimated that domestic abuse is prevalent in approximately 20% of all marriages in the United States and that 1 out of 4 women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Domestic abuse is any menacing conduct that is hostile or abusive. It may be physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or spiritual and occurs between adults or loved ones who are or have been, in a close relationship, irrespective of their gender.
There are fundamental types of domestic abuse:
1. Physical Abuse – The most familiar and most well-known form of domestic abuse, is the use of physical force against a spouse or partner, including:
- Shoving, striking, smacking, kicking, and beating
- Preventing the person from leaving the room, or locking them in a confined space
- Throwing things at the person
- Refusing to secure medical attention for the person
- Denying them essential needs such as food, water, and sleep
- Forcing the person to consume substances like drugs and alcohol
2. Emotional Abuse – The use of words, tone of voice, or actions that may have an effect on the emotional and psychological well-being of the person, including:
- Making Verbal threats
- Using abusive language
- Name Calling
- Shaming the person in public
- Alienating the person from family and friends
- Keeping an excessive watch over the person’s whereabouts
- Blaming the person for the mistreatment they receive
- Stalking or following the person around
3. Sexual Abuse – Forcing a person to have sex or to engage in unwanted sexual activity, including:
- Having sex with the person against their will
- Forcing the victim to have sex with other people
- Physically injuring or assaulting the person while having sexual relations
- Forcing the person to have sex without contraception
- Unwanted touching
4. Financial Abuse – Common in relationships where one partner wants to gain complete power and control over the other. This is the use or misuse of influence and control over the person’s financial situation without their approval. Common examples include:
- Forbidding the person to work
- Insisting that the person give an account of the money they have spent
- Making the person pay for all expenses
- Exercising control over the person’s financial accounts and personal property
- Forging the person’s signature on financial documents
5. Spiritual Abuse – Can involve any religion and can impact anyone who is in an abusive relationship. Common examples include:
- Restricting the victim’s religious freedom
- Using the scripture of a particular religion out of context in order to exert control over the victim or to justify abuse
- Often associated with phrases such as: “God wants you to do this” or “God forbids you from doing that” when in reality, the Scripture does not say that at all.
If you or a loved one have been the victims of domestic abuse, you should speak with a family law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will provide you with valuable guidance that can assist you in protecting yourself and your family, and assert your right to live free from the threat of violence and abuse.