October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month so it seems appropriate to educate ourselves and others on what domestic violence is and why abusers abuse.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors (examples of which are listed below) used by one person to maintain power and control over another person. Any person can become a victim of domestic violence. It comes in many forms. Domestic violence is most commonly thought of as being physical. However, it can take many other forms. Domestic violence can also be emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and digital/online abuse.

Do you wonder if you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship?

Ask yourself the following questions.

Does the person ever…

  • Insult you, humiliate you, call you names or continually criticize you?
  • Control your behavior, tell you what you can and cannot wear, where you can and cannot go, or who you can and cannot be friends with?
  • Scare you, threaten you or your children or family or friends, or even your pets?
  • Push, slap, choke, or hit you?
  • Isolate you from friends or family?
  • Monitor you, your phone or your e-mail or phone calls, or insist on tracking you?
  • Act jealous or possessive or refuse to trust you or accuse you of cheating?
  • Control the money?
  • Make decisions for you?
  • Trap you in a home or car, or prevent you from leaving?
  • Damage property when angry?
  • Abuse, kill, or harm animals or pets?
  • Tell you what a bad parent you are, or threaten to take your children away?
  • Prevent you from working or going to school, or getting there on time?
  • Act like abuse is no big deal or tell you it’s your fault?
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives, ropes, or other weapons?
  • Force you to commit a crime?
  • Threaten to commit suicide or threaten to kill you?

If you can answer “yes” to even one of these questions, you or someone you know may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

“What is Domestic Violence”. Retrieved from TheHotline.org

Why do abusers abuse?

  • They want to be in control
  • They want to feel the power
  • They feel good about being in control and/or feeling powerful
  • They feel entitled, they have the right to do what they do
  • They disrespect you and consider themselves superior to you
  • They confuse love and abuse
  • They feel justified, you caused them to do what they did

Key points to remember about abuse and abusers

  • Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, and the branches are control.
  • Abuse and respect are opposites. Abusers cannot change unless they overcome their core disrespect toward their partners.
  • Abusers are far more conscious of what they are doing than they appear to be. However, even their less-conscious behaviors are driven by their core values.
  • Abusers are unwilling to be nonabusive, not unable. They do not want to give up power and control.
  • You are not crazy. Trust your perceptions of how your abusive partner treats you and thinks about you.

Bancroft, Lundy. Why Does He Do That? Penguin Group,2002, p.75.