Domestic Violence

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Domestic violence involves one or more people consistently using forceful actions to maintain power and control of another person(s). Domestic violence is extremely common and includes physical and/or sexual abuse. The intensity of the violence increases over time and is accompanied by a pattern of psychologically and emotionally abusive behavior. Domestic violence is universal and affects all people regardless of age, gender, race, religion, nationality, income or sexual orientation.

Some examples of domestic violence acts include:

  • Pulling hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking
  • Using or threatening to use a weapon
  • Harming the children
  • Trapping the significant other in a room or home
  • Preventing her from seeking medical attention
  • Sexual assault
  • Forbidding the partner from eating or sleeping
  • Damaging property, such as throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.
  • Abandoning her in unfamiliar places
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously to scare her

Psychological and emotional abuse may be less visible, but equally as harmful. Tactics that intimidate and dominate are used to systematically overpower the victim(s). Some more subtle signs of domestic violence and abuse include:

  • Preventing the survivor from seeing friends or family
  • Belittling or embarrassing the survivor
  • Controlling  household finances
  • Taking money or possessions away
  • Using technology to invade partner’s privacy
  • Threatening to harm or take away the children
  • Destroying property
  • Threatening to kill pets or loved ones
  • Intimidating with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressuring partner to take drugs or alcohol
  • Preventing partner from achieving her personal goals
  • Preventing partner from making her own decisions

Women often find themselves trapped in a relationship with an abusive intimate partner. Because of its insidious nature, few women are able to recognize an abuser at first. Over time, the abuser gain and maintains control while brainwashing the other to believe that she is at fault and/or powerless. Attempts to leave are met with false promises of change, more violence or terrifying threats. When children are involved, things become even more complicated.

Societal factors  can also perpetuate domestic violence by making it socially and economically difficult to leave the abusive relationship. Women who call emergency services are often arrested themselves and lose custody of their children to foster care, preventing some from calling even when their lives are truly in danger. This ongoing cycle of abuse, degradation, marginalization and disenfranchisement is usually progressive unless there is some sort of intervention.

Breaking The Cycle

Domestic violence affects the physical and mental health of the abused partner and her children, including their relationships, social life and financial status. Unless something is done to break the cycle, the situation can easily lead to hopelessness, drug or alcohol use, complex trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicide .The effects of domestic violence can last a lifetime and ripple through future generations.

No one should stay in a dangerous situation or risk the well-being of children by doing nothing but hope that the situation will get better. Telling someone who is trustworthy is a first step in breaking the cycle of abuse. Those in immediate danger should stay with a trusted friend or family member whenever possible or go to a domestic violence shelter. Those choosing to stay should at least educate themselves about domestic violence and have a safety plan in place.

When symptoms of traumatic stress become too severe, treatment may be necessary, particularly if drugs or alcohol are being used to numb overwhelming sadness, grief, anger, resentment, or fear. Like the cycle of domestic violence, mental illness and substance use disorders do not usually spontaneously improve. Specialized treatment centers can provide safe and comfortable detoxification, psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy if needed, and treatment for underlying and co-occurring behavioral health disorders. Many also offer help with vocational training, legal matters, housing and referrals to services for domestic violence survivors.

Domestic violence is dangerous and can be deadly. Those who are experiencing abuse from an intimate partner must understand that while they may feel very alone, they are not. There is no need for so many women to continue to suffer in silence. Help is available that can stop the damaging effects of domestic violence and pave the way towards a healthier future.

Sovereign Health of Arizona

Sovereign Health’s women’s treatment center in Chandler, Arizona, is a safe haven for women who have survived trauma, including domestic violence. We offer specialized treatment programs for those with drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions.  Sovereign Health provides comprehensive assessment and evidence-based treatment design to promote lasting recovery from trauma and all of its effects.

Sovereign Health of Arizona accepts most major health insurance plans, making treatment affordable. If you would like further information about our trauma program for domestic violence survivors or any of our treatment programs, please call our 24/7 helpline.

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