The Epidemic that is Domestic Violence
There is a silent epidemic, that has existed for the longest time, but is now even more so urgent that before due to the recent pandemic. It is the serge and scourge of domestic violence, due to being confined at home.
The best way to combat domestic violence, is to first understand what it is, what it encompasses, and acknowledge that is a HUGE complex problem. First, and foremost, what most people do not understand, especially if they have never experienced it, is what domestic violence truly is. Domestic violence is usually assumed that it is a ‘man versus a woman’ intimate issue. That is a part of it, but domestic violence is SO much more than that; it is, essentially any sort of abuse that happens “domestically,” as “within the home” as the domestic part of that term entails.
Regardless, of the type, which will be outlined further, “abuse” can be carried out in the following forms: verbal, mental, emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, and financial. Verbal abuse includes yelling, accusing, threatening, and cursing. Mental abuse is anything that can be utilized to change a person’s way of perceiving themselves, such as through verbal threats and negative suggestions. Emotional abuse can be achieved through verbal tactics such as accusations, but also through rejection, and making a victim doubt their sanity or perception of reality. Physical is, naturally, by physical means, but not just beating or hitting–it can start as shoving, pushing, or intimidating close physical proximity. Sexual relates to anything of a sexual nature, such as inappropriate touching, oral means, or any form of sexual penetration. Spiritual deals with anything that negates or attacks a persons spirituality or religious preferences. Lastly, financial abuse can be the withholding, sabotaging, or destructive tactics that interrupts a victim’s ability to live and survive, such as paying for necessary items like rent or food. The types of abuse can be interconnected and utilize many of the same tactics, they are just usually concentrated based on the abuser’s intent or what specifically they are attacking in the victim. Abusers are all about control of the victim, so it greatly depends on how they want to break the victim down to obtain said control.
Domestic abuse usually starts as child abuse, where parents or other family members abuse the children, at their earliest stage in life. Child abuse can involves all abuse forms mentioned above, in any stage of childhood from infancy through to the teenage years–or until they reach technical adulthood at age 18. Elder abuse, also an age-based type of abuse, is typically defined as that when a person is age 65 or older, also sometimes contingent on disability or infirmary. However, abusing those who are disabled often gets grouped in with elder abuse, despite the disabled person’s age. Disabilities can be either mental or physical and this type of abuse often includes neglect by caregivers or taking advantages of the victim’s financial resources for their benefit (instead of the the victim’s care).
Domestic abuse is almost always generally associated with “intimate partner violence.” That is, IPV deals with relationships of an “intimate” or sexual-based nature. These can be significant others’ situations, such as husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or any other sexual orientation-type relationships within the LGBTQ+ realm. These IPV relationships do not have to be traditional, just of a sexual-based nature. Even though an IPV relationship may involve sexual relations, that is not the only part of an IPV relationship. These relationships involve romantic love in many shapes and forms, with sexual relations only being a partial percentage of that partnership.
Sexual abuse can occur in many classifications of abuse, but the human trafficking aspect cannot be left out of IPV. It can be children or women or even men that can be human trafficked. Human trafficking is also assumed to be ONLY of a sexual nature, such as pornography or prostitution/sex slavery; however, many people are human trafficked for abusive labor purposes as well. These labor practices could later become of a sexual nature, but not always. The labor aspect of human trafficking can also be mental and physical, which futher dilutes the interconnectivity of the domestic abuse dynamic.
All forms of domestic abuse seems to remain hidden due to an “it’s not my business” mentality of the public, even though sexual preferences become more public and accepted. Ignorance is still prevalent, but more so because the abuse is ignored or not acknowledged, continuing the dynamic of abuse to continue and flourish. As human kind progresses, we seem to be less concerned with each other’s welfare and safety. Ignorance has become the norm.
Laura Moseley is a mother of three, a grandmother of one, and a survivor of 23+ years of sexual and domestic abuse. She works for a federal social services organization, as well as being a DV and Human Trafficking Violence advocate, a community activist, a blogger, an indie writer, and a public speaker.