Most common signs of domestic violence you must never ignore

February 6, 2014

Sadly, speaking out about domestic violence is still very much taboo. Even so, abuse occurs in all circles of society. What are themost common signs you mustn't ignore?

Most common signs of domestic violence you must never ignore

The facts about domestic violence

Domestic violence is any aggression committed by a family member on another member of the family. That is why it is traditionally called family violence. It can occur between sexual partners, between spouses, between parents and children, between siblings, or between adults and their elderly parents.

  • The abuser uses his or her power to intimidate, manipulate, and control the victim. Family violence comes in many different forms, including physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse.

According to Statistics Canada, the national average rate of violent crimes committed against family members in 2013 was 279 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Even if this figure is slightly down compared to other years, it is still very worrying.

  • Nearly a third of assaults and sexual offenses against children and young people were perpetrated by a family member.

Many people who experience family violence are too afraid to seek help. The healing process can be long and difficult for victims, but it cannot start unless the crime is exposed and the abuser stopped.

The most common signs

It is not always easy to know if a friend or co-worker is a victim of domestic violence, because victims of family violence often feel shame and try to hide or deny the signs. Some of the following things might be indications of abuse:

  • Burns, cuts, fractures, sprains, or scars.
  • An appearance of fatigue and inattentiveness.
  • The expression of fear for her own safety and that of her children.
  • Difficulty in making definite decisions.
  • Panic attacks.
  • A refusal to participate in social activities.

Signs of abuse in children

Family violence often claims the youngest victims. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the main signs of child abuse include:

  • Extremely low self-esteem, feelings of guilt and shame, shyness, extreme anxiety, intense recurring nightmares, prolonged periods of sadness, social withdrawal, fear of strangers, fear of people who are the same gender as the aggressor, loss of trust in others, school truancy, running away, fighting with peers, criminal offences, early drug and alcohol use, developmental delays, headaches, stomach aches, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, inappropriate sexual behaviour, or high levels of anger and aggression.

Emotional abuse

Domestic violence is often associated with physical violence. However, emotional abuse is just as harmful and can totally destroy the victim’s self-esteem. Emotional abusers control people through words, scaring and isolating their victims and eroding their self-confidence.

  • This kind of violence can include yelling, criticism, threats, intimidation, and humiliation.

The solution: ask for help

The decision to ask for help can sometimes seem impossible to a victim of abuse. However, many organizations, shelters, the police, lawyers, or law offices can help victims with the first steps toward breaking free of abuse.

  • In cases of family violence, anonymity is privileged and safety procedures are the top priority.

The help provided by health professionals and social services enables victims to eventually rebuild their self-esteem and find peace of mind so they can get on with their lives.

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