All couples fight. That’s a given in living lives so interconnected to each other. Fighting because you let slip what you really think about your spouse’s wild Uncle Garry is one thing. Gentle arguments come with the territory.
When Do Arguments Turn Into Domestic Violence?
The tricky thing about defining domestic violence and abuse is that it doesn’t always look like a raised fist. It can be a series of different patterns all working together to terrorize, demean, and shame you.
It’s Not Always Face-to-Face
We are always connected through our devices. This means that a domestic abuser may be harassing you through stalking your social media, fielding your phone calls and social life, and demanding access to private accounts like email addresses.
Physical Domestic Abuse Can Include:
- Shoving, punching, or kicking.
- Throwing things to hurt or intimidate you.
- Scratching, spitting, grabbing or biting.
- Hurting or threatening to hurt your pets or children.
- Destroying your possessions.
- Sexual abuse of any kind.
- Using a weapon to threaten or attack you.
Emotional Domestic Abuse Can Include:
- Yelling in your face.
- Calling you names, mocking you, or trying to humiliate you with words.
- Telling you where you can go and who you can see.
- Talking down to you.
- Twisting your words, ignoring you outright, or interrupting you when you speak.
- Blaming you for their abusive behavior.
- Controlling your phone and internet usage.
- Cheating or being overly paranoid that you might cheat on them.
Financial Domestic Abuse Can Include:
- Preventing you from going to work or school.
- Keeping you unemployed, intentionally sabotaging employment opportunities.
- Denying you access to a vehicle or your own transportation so that you cannot go to work.
- Withholding money or giving an allowance.
- Denying bank account access.
- Hiding money
Stalking or Harassment
An abuser may engage in stalking or general harassment behavior as well, whether they are a current spouse or an ex. If the advances or attention cross certain boundaries, they can be considered a kind of abuse. These issues include:
- Following you physically or online.
- Visiting you when you don’t want them to, at work or elsewhere.
- Sending you unwanted messages.
- Always checking on you.
- Embarrassing you in front of people.
- Not physically leaving when you ask them to.
Safety Is the Top Priority
Remember: if you need help NOW, call 911.
If any of these different forms of abuse have affected you in any way, the most important thing is to be safe. Violence means danger, and you’re not crazy for being afraid. The first step to getting help is getting away from the abuser.
If you’re afraid that you’ll be harmed for trying to leave, call 911.
Even if you’re just a little scared, you are not being too much, and this is what police officers exist for. You have a right to leave and be safe.
After the Exit
Obviously, fixing everything isn’t as simple as walking away. It’s the first essential step! But you want to be protected from here on out, and that will require taking legal action. Here are some next steps:
Seek a civil order of protection. This is also sometimes called a temporary restraining order, and it will legally require your abuser to keep away.
A temporary restraining order can be made into a permanent restraining order. You’ll just need time and legal assistance to do so.
Any restraining orders that the abuser does not adhere to can result in criminal charges placed against them–which could result in their arrest and imprisonment.
Getting free of an abuser is not easy, but you deserve better. Contact an excellent Divorce Attorney like those at Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. to help guide you through the legal protections. Finding a patient counselor can assist you with the emotional toll.
Don’t be afraid of what lies ahead. Just know, it means leaving your abuser far behind.