How to identify domestic abuse against women

Domestic abuse is a widespread problem that impacts women worldwide. In fact, violence against women is so prevalent that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a top priority public health issue.

To help stop domestic abuse against women, let’s go over how to identify it and what to do if you’re a victim or know a victim in need of help.

What is domestic abuse against women?

Domestic abuse against women, also called violence against women, involves a range of abusive behaviors. This includes the use of physical force, as well as other types of aggression such as verbal abuse, emotional abuse, limitations of freedom and deprivation of basic needs (including access to food, money, work, health services or support systems).

Some common examples of violence against women:

  • Physical assault, including slapping, pinching, punching, hitting and kicking.
  • Psychological abuse, including intimidation, threats, denigration and humiliation.
  • Coercive control, including forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual pressure.
  • Other controlling behaviors, including isolating a partner from family or friends, monitoring activities, and restricting access to information or support systems.

Keep in mind: Acts of violence are often expressions of power over another person.

What's considered domestic abuse?

Violence against women is often perpetuated by an intimate partner. This type of abuse can occur anywhere, regardless of social, economic, religious or cultural groups. While we should note that domestic abuse can occur against men or between same-sex couples, it’s most commonly perpetrated by men against women. For this reason, we focus on violence against women in this article.

Some behaviors that can provoke perpetrators of domestic abuse include:

  • Not obeying;
  • Talking back or using the “wrong” tone;
  • Failure to prepare food on time;
  • Neglecting childcare or household chores;
  • Asking about money or other romantic relationships;
  • Going to work or leaving home without asking permission;
  • Refusing to have sexual relations;
  • Suspecting the aggressor of infidelity;
  • Using harmful substances, such as drugs or alcohol.

Keep in mind: None of the behaviors listed above are appropriate or justified in a relationship. They all fall under the definition of domestic abuse.

How does domestic abuse harm women?

Violence against women can have a severe impact on women's physical and emotional health. Women experiencing physical, psychological and social abuse may have health repercussions such as:

  • Symptoms such as irritability or frequent crying;
  • Inability to enjoy life;
  • Fatigue;
  • Suicidal thoughts at much higher levels than women who aren’t victims of domestic abuse.

These are just a handful of common symptoms resulting from domestic violence.

What steps should I take to confront domestic abuse against women?

For women suffering domestic abuse, leaving an abusive relationship is a process. Victims may feel periods of denial, guilt and anguish before accepting the abusive situation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee the victims’ safety.

Sometimes battered women are passive victims who obey their partner's orders to avoid problems. Unfortunately, this type of response often results in more harmful abuse over time.

Women who aren’t passive victims may use certain strategies to increase their safety - and their kids’. If you’re suffering domestic abuse, you should try to take the following steps:

  • Confront the situation and avoid minimizing it.
  • Seek support from family and friends by verbalizing it or making the situation public.
  • Establish your own personal, economic and family-based resources.
  • Develop an emergency plan. Always have personal documents for you and your kids on hand, such as birth certificates, vaccination records, passports or any other IDs. You should also have money, bank cards, car keys, medicines, cell phone and contacts for your support networks (family or friends).
  • Protect your kids first and foremost.
  • Take legal action as appropriate.

Where can I get help for domestic abuse?

  • Call 911 emergency services whenever needed.
  • Memorize phone numbers of trusted family members or friends so you can call for help.
  • Seek psychological care, legal counseling and medical support as needed.
  • Ask for support from the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800 799 7233.

Don’t hesitate to take the steps mentioned above and get help for domestic abuse. At SABEResPODER, we’re here to help!