Domestic Violence (Spousal Abuse) 4

What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Domestic violence is a widespread problem anywhere you live. Fortunately, you can protect yourself by learning to recognize abuse and knowing how to stop it.

The term “domestic violence” actually covers a variety of abuse, ranging from verbal and psychological to threats and of course, physical contact. In the past, domestic abuse was viewed as a private affair that should be handled within the home. This allowed “free reign” to abusive partners, facing little to no consequences for their actions. Today, our society takes domestic violence much more seriously and there are laws and programs in place to help victims of abuse.

Unfortunately, domestic violence can still take its toll and the victim can often grow to expect and even accept the partner’s abusive behavior. One example of this is Battered Women’s Syndrome, a psychological disorder falling under the general category of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder is typically the result of long-term, continued abuse. The abuse may start slowly and be nothing more than derogatory comments, insults and other abusive verbal remarks. As the abuse progresses, physical contact begins to manifest and the abuser manages to convince his victim that she “deserves” this punishment for something she did or didn’t do.

If this cycle is allowed to escalate, it can often end in death. Many victims have ultimately been beaten to death and just as many victims have suffered a psychological break and killed their abuser. Either way, the outlook can be grim. Symptoms of Battered Women’s Syndrome include a lack of enthusiasm or interest, fear, substance abuse and a distinct change in personality. Women suffering from Battered Women’s Syndrome should seek professional and legal assistance immediately.

Also remember that domestic violence can sometimes extend beyond your home, invading your workplace, the grocery store and even your child’s school. Many estranged partners resort to stalking, threatening phone calls and other forms of intimidation in an effort to scare the victim into coming back home.

There is however, legislation in place to help get you out of an abusive situation and protect you after you’ve left. The Violence Against Women Act is a federal bill designed to provide assistance to women in abusive situations. This bill created a national domestic violence hotline and provides grant programs to states to assist in the protection of abuse victims. But perhaps the most useful and immediate tool at your disposal is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). If you’re a victim of abuse, you can get a TRO against your abuser, basically requiring him to stay away and leave you alone. If your abuser violates this order, he can usually be arrested on the spot.

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