Domestic violence, or "intimate partner violence," affects the lives of millions of people. It's been the subject of hundreds of books, magazine articles, movies, and television programs. It is widely known that acts of physical violence are against the law. But physical violence is only one part of domestic violence. And most of us find it hard to believe that it could be happening to us or to someone we know and care about.
Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in communities across the United States – including communities in Westmoreland County. If you or someone you love needs help, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-888-832-2272.
Types of Domestic Violence
Abusive behavior rarely shows up at the beginning of a relationship. In fact, many abusers can be exceptionally charming when they choose to be.
Domestic violence can take several forms:
• Physical: This is the most overt form of battering and includes pushing, hitting, beating, inflicting injury with weapons, homicide, and suicide.
• Verbal/Emotional: This type of abuse includes non-physical behavior such as insults, threats, constant monitoring or checking in, humiliation, isolation, intimidation and stalking. To learn more about emotional abuse, please read our Blackburn 101 series.
• Psychological: Characterized as "brainwashing", a person's self-worth is destroyed through harassment, threats, or deprivation of food and sleep.
• Sexual: When sexual abuse occurs between spouses/partners, it is rape. When sexual abuse is inflicted on children or teenagers by an older family member, it is incest.
• Destruction of Property or Pets: The destruction of property or pets may be another way that a person who batters is abusive. The destruction of the objects may also carry the message, "This time it's the car or the china; next time I could hurt you.”
• Reproductive Coercion: This type of abuse can include threats or acts of violence against a partner's reproductive health or reproductive decision-making and is a collection of behaviors intended to pressure or coerce a partner into becoming a parent or ending a pregnancy. Learn more about reproductive coercion in our Blackburn 101 series.
If your partner is an abuser, you may have noticed that he (or she) does some of these things:
• Humiliates, degrades, criticizes or insults you.
• Threatens to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with him.
• Breaks things, especially your things, on purpose.
• Threatens to do things like take the children, or harm your pet, or get you fired.
• If you are in a same-gender relationship, the abuser may threaten to "out" you.
• Controls or interferes with where you go, what you do, and who you spend time with.
• Insults your friends and family.
• Makes you follow his (or her) rules (and sometimes changes the rules without warning).
• Accuses you of being unfaithful.
• Blames you for the way he (or she) treats you.
• Ignores you or makes fun of you when you're angry, hurt, or upset.
Facts About Domestic Violence
• Domestic violence and other forms of abuse occur at all levels of society, among all kinds of people.Dating couples, married couples, and same-gender couples experience domestic violence in much the same way.
• Adults with disabilities are at an increased risk of domestic violence. Women with disabilites and Deaf women are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than non-disabled women to experience abuse. Adults with developmental disabilities are 4 - 10 times more likely to be abused. They are often more vulnerable to emotional, physical, financial and sexual abuse, and may face barriers to getting help or receiving services. At Blackburn Center, we make every effort to accomodate any person who requires our services.
• Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. From 2003 through 2012, women accounted for 76 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence and men accounted for approximately 24 percent of the victims.
• Verbal or emotional abuse can cause a victim to believe what her partner says about her, and to blame herself for her partner's abusive behavior.
• Abuse is the fault of the abuser. To ask what the victim did "wrong" ignores the fact that abusive behavior is a choice made by the abuser. Other choices are always available to the abuser.
• Alcohol and other drugs often contribute to violence, but they do not cause it. Batterers often drink to prepare for battering, or so they can use "I was drunk" as an excuse.
• Rather than being "out of control," most batterers are in complete control of their battering - and in complete control of their choice of victim. Some are careful to inflict injuries only where they won't show, while others deliberately try to disfigure their victims.
• The most lethal time for a domestic violence victim may be when s/he leaves the relationship. Domestic violence that ends in murder frequently occurs after the victim is separated from the abuser or has begun to take actions to end the relationship. A victim may stay in the relationship because of fear that they will suffer significant injury or death if they attempt to end the relationship.
• Many women receive their first beating when they become pregnant.
• There is nothing a victim can do to change the abuser's behavior. Abusers change only when they decide they want to.
• It is illegal to physically or sexually assault, stalk, threaten, harass or restrain another individual. Domestic violence is against the law.
You have the right to be treated with respect, to make your own choices, to live without fear, and to be less than perfect. And that's a fact!
Abusers feel a need to control their partners—to show their partners how powerful they are. Many use violence, or the threat of violence; others rely on psychological abuse. Victims often report that the psychological (or emotional or mental) abuse is even worse than being hit.
Domestic Violence Law
Under Pennsylvania law, if you have been subjected to any of the following types of abuse, you may be able to obtain a Protection From Abuse order (PFA):
1. Attempting to, or intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, spousal sexual assault or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with or without a deadly weapon;
2. Placing another in reasonable fear of imminentserious bodily injury;
3. False imprisonment, as defined under the crimescode;
4. Physically or sexually abusing minor children;and/or
5. Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another
person, including following the person, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
To learn more about PFAs, including how to seek legal assistance in obtaining a PFA against an abuser, click here. For more resources on domestic violence, please click here.
More about Types of Abuse: