(WKBN) – The operations manager of a Youngstown domestic violence program says she’s seeing cases of domestic violence end tragically.
Domestic violence is suffered by one in four women and one in 10 men, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Each year, domestic violence claims the lives of thousands.
A psychological and physical battle makes it difficult for men and women to escape domestic violence.
Below, we list some different forms of domestic violence along with tips and efforts a person can take when trying to leave a violent relationship.
Although when hearing the words “domestic violence” people often think of physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse is just as dangerous.
Typically, the abuser uses manipulation and gaslighting to gain control over the victim. This then leads to the victim feeling dependent on the abuser and feeling as if he/she is not good enough without them.
These are a few gaslighting techniques an abuser may use:
- Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. Ex. “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”
- Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. Ex. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”
- Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. Ex. “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”
- Trivializing: the abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant. Ex. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”
- Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. Ex. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”
What makes mental abuse so dangerous is that it happens gradually over time. Often, a victim does not even realize what is being done to them until the abuser has already gained control over them mentally and emotionally.
The victim can become confused, anxious, isolated and depressed, and eventually may lose all sense of what is actually happening, relying on the abuser to define reality for them. This makes it more difficult to escape.
A person experiencing mental or emotional abuse can get help. First, you must recognize some of the signs of being gaslighted:
- You constantly second-guess yourself.
- You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
- You often feel confused and even crazy.
- You’re always apologizing to your partner.
- You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
- You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
- You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
- You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
- You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
- You have trouble making simple decisions.
- You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
- You feel hopeless and joyless.
- You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
- You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.
Physical domestic violence is when an abuser physically harms the victim. This can also be accompanied by mental abuse as well.
Physical harm may be used during a verbal argument, or simply an act out of anger.
A person can experience many different types of physical abuse, including:
- shaking, slapping, pushing, punching or scratching
- spitting or biting
- trying to strangle or choke
- using weapons
- driving dangerously
- destroying property and throwing things
- abuse of children or pets
- locking someone out of their house or in the house
- sleep and food deprivation
- forced feeding
- physical restraint e.g. pinning against the wall or bed.
Audrey Walker, the operations manager of the Sojourner House, said one of the most dangerous times in a domestic violent relationship is when the victim decides to leave.
The abuser begins to feel as if they lost control and may often respond with physical harm.
In 2017, more than 45,000 women were killed worldwide as a result of domestic violence.
Walker says death by domestic violence is happening more frequently in the Mahoning Valley.
“It happens a lot. It happens more than people think. You know, I like to inform the victims when they come to us that this is very serious,” she said.
Anyone experiencing any form of domestic violence can take steps to get help.
If you are still in the home and want to figure out a way to get out, you may want to come up with a safety plan.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a safety plan is, “A personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave.”
It is also recommended that you keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures or injuries. You can also keep a journal where you document the abuse with dates and threats, however, you want to make sure you keep it in a place the abuser will not find it.
You should report any injuries to police, and go to a doctor or an emergency room and ask that they document your visit.
Once you leave an abusive relationship, you may want to take some precautions like changing your locks, phone number and even your route to work. You can also request that your job does not give out information about your work hours.
Seeking professional counseling and therapy is very important as well. Breaking the mental control the abuser has on you is what will help prevent you from falling back into the cycle of abuse.
There are several agencies that assist men and women who are looking for support to break out of an abusive relationship:
- Sojourner House: (330) 747-4040, Youngstown, Ohio, 24-hour-hotline
- Compass Family & Community Services: (330) 782-5664, Youngstown, Ohio, Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm
- Someplace Safe: (330) 393-3005, Warren, Ohio, open 24 hours.
- Daybreak Youth Crisis Center: (330) 782-5664, Youngstown, Ohio.
- Beatitude House:
- (330) 746-6622
- (330) 399-1971
- Help Network Of Northeast Ohio:
- Suicide Hotline Contact Numbers
- Mahoning County and Trumbull County – 330-747-2696
- Columbiana County – 330-424-7767
- East Palestine, Beloit, Sebring and Western Columbiana County – 1-800-427-3606
- Ashtabula County – 1-800-577-7849
- Senior Line
- Victims Of Crime Hotline
- 330-424-7767 or
- Suicide Hotline Contact Numbers