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Module 6: Domestic and Dating Violence

Recognizing an abusive relationship

 

Abusive relationships happen to college and even high school students, both male and female. In some cases, these relationships have fatal consequences. The good news is that high school and college students are well-positioned to end these relationships before they turn violent. The key is recognizing the signs that your partner will eventually turn to violence.

 

Obviously, if someone early in a relationship touches you in a violent manner, you should at a minimum end the relationship. Immediate physical violence in a relationship, however, is atypical. Abuse is often preceded by a campaign to condition the victim for later abuse. Some of the signs of this campaign include:

#1

Isolating you from friends, family, and others or discouraging you from interacting with them.

#2

Acting jealous.

#3

Seeking to control what you do and when you do it.

#4

Putting you down, telling you that you cannot do anything right, belittling you, and/or convincing you that you are incompetent.

#5

Acting like your memory of events is poor or things you claim to have happened did not happen a/k/a “gaslighting” (the name comes from the classic play Gaslight, where the husband tried to convince the wife she was crazy by dimming the gas lights and acting like she was insane when she noticed it).

#6

Pressuring you sexually or to take drugs or use alcohol.

#7

Intimidating you with looks, statements, or weapons.

#8

Threatening to damage your property or hurt those you love such as pets, friends, or relatives.

#9

Making you financially dependent on them through discouraging you from working, controlling all the finances, not telling you where assets are kept, or other means.

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Abusers may attempt to justify these actions as “wanting to just be with you”, “wanting to take care of you”, or “loving you too much”. The truth, however, is that none of these actions are healthy in a relationship, and may well be the precursor to and even worse relationship involving physical abuse.
Escaping an abusive relationship

If you are in an abusive relationship, you should take immediate action for your own safety and the safety of your friends and family. Some suggested courses of action include:

#1

Call the police. The police should never interview you in the presence of the abuser. Direct the police to anything that would provide evidence that abuse took place, such as bruises, cuts, overturned furniture, broken items, and recordings. Even if the police do not believe they have sufficient evidence to make an arrest, they should be willing to escort you to a safe place away from the abuser.

#2

Go to a shelter. Studies show this is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent future assaults. It removes you from the violent situation and typically gives you access to counseling, legal services, and other resources that can help you successfully manage being subjected to an abusive relationship.

#3

Understand that you are not to blame. Abusers are adept at convincing their victims that the abuse would not have taken place but for something the victim did to provoke it. This is a lie. It is difficult to imagine a situation where anyone would be justified in physically harming someone they claim to love.

#4

Understand you are not trapped. Abusers often will “prepare” a victim for abuse by making the victim feel socially isolated, financially and personally dependent on the abuser, and worthless. This is a trick and a lie designed to trap you! You can leave an abusive relationship, and you are not isolated, dependent, or worthless, no matter what your abuser has told you.

#5

Do not be ashamed. You are not alone: a staggering number of people go through an abusive relationship. Furthermore, abusers are very adept at tricking you into believing you are in a loving relationship. Like any effective con artist, they are good conversationalists, attentive, and likeable. If they were not, they would never get away with the abuse. The truth is, everyone has been “taken in” by a con artist of some variety, whether it was a cheating romantic interest, a slick salesman, or a dishonest politician.

#6

Obtain a protective order. Most states have procedures by which an abuse victim can seek a court order requiring the abuser to stay away from the victim. Violation of the order is relatively easy to prove in this day of camera phones, and carries severe penalties including jail time.

#7

Talk to a family lawyer if you are married to or have children with the abuser. Even if you are not considering getting a divorce, it is smart to consult a family lawyer about child custody issues, a protective order, and asset protection.

#8

Gather the evidence. Take photos of bruises or cuts. Document the abuse in a journal. If it is safe to do so, also take photos of the area where the abuse took place, documenting overturned furniture or items broken, and place any weapons in plastic bags.

#9

Tell someone. Talk to a counselor or a trusted friend or family member about the abuse.

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Abusive relationships get worse over time. Your abuser will almost certainly make every effort to convince you to stay in the relationship. Most abusers are very good at finding reasons to convince you to stay in the relationship, either through attempting to elicit sympathy from you, blaming you for the abuse, threatening physical or emotional consequences if you leave, or other means. If you stay in the relationship, your abuser will take this as a sign that you are willing to take more abuse. The sooner you end an abusive relationship, the safer you will be.
Following this module, invite students to stand and learn how to escape using the windpipe strike.  Be very careful to apply pressure gradually and not strike when students are practicing on each other or you!

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