Does your partner, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend have you in a relationship that shows signs of domestic violence? Ask yourself these important questions:

Does he/she:

• Look at you in ways that scare you?

• Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?

• Stop you from seeing or talking to friends or Family?

• Take your money or make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?

• Make all the decisions?

• Tell you you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?

• Act like any abuse against you is no big deal, it is your fault or even deny doing it?

• Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?

• Intimidate you with guns, knives, or other weapons?

• Shove you, slap you or hit you?

• Force you to drop charges?

• Threaten to commit suicide if you leave them?

If you answered yes to one or more of these you may be a victim of domestic violence. You can find immediate help or advice by calling the Bragg Victim Hotline (322-3418) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

Many spouses/partners use very hurtful, damaging and violent means to control their partners. These are just some of the ways a partner can be bullied or abused by their mate. In many homes where there is serious domestic violence going on, many of these means of enforcing power and control are present. Sometimes physical force may occur only very seldom or the partner may punch a hole in the wall to show how much he/she could hurt the partner if pushed too hard. The important thing for abused partners to realize is that these behaviors are wrong and that they are being used to control others. Many partners who are in abusive relationships are very unlikely to leave without significant help because of these controlling factors. For instance, an abused partner may fully believe they bring on the abuse or are to blame for provoking their partner. They might believe abusive statements  that they are crazy, irresponsible, lazy or untrustworthy as excuses for being abused or controlled.

Here are some key categories of abuse or control typically used by abusive partners: Physical abuse: Kicking, pushing, slapping, choking, hitting, pulling, throwing you down, biting, shoving, spitting, using a weapon against you.

• Using coercion and threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you; threatening to leave, commit suicide, or report you to welfare services or immigration; making you drop charges or protective orders; making you do illegal things.

• Minimizing, denying and blaming: Making light of the abuse, not taking your concerns seriously; saying the abuse did not happen; avoiding responsibility for his/her behavior; blaming you for causing the abuse.

• Using privilege: Treating you like a servant; insisting on making/keeping you out of all of the big decisions; acting like the “master of the castle”; is the one to define men and women’s roles.

• Using economic abuse: Preventing you from getting or keeping a job; not letting you know about the Family income; making you ask for money; or taking your money.

• Using the children: Using the children to relay messages or tell on what you do; making you feel guilty about the children; using visitation to harass you; threatening to take the children away.

• Emotional abuse: Putting you down; making you think that you are crazy; playing mind games; making you feel bad about yourself; humiliating you; calling you names.

• Sexual abuse: Making you have sex when you don’t want to or to perform sexual acts against your will; physically attacking the sexual parts of your body; taking lewd photos; treating you like a sex object.

• Using isolation: Controlling what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go; limiting your outside involvement; using jealousy to justify actions.

• Using intimidation: Smashing things, destroys your property, making you afraid with looks, actions and/or gestures; abusing pets; displaying weapons.

If you or someone you know has some of these going on, you should seek help by calling the Bragg Victim Hotline (322-3418) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233). Callers don’t have to give their name if they are concerned for their privacy – they will still get help. It may take weeks or months of getting help or talking to other victims before some survivors of domestic violence begin to realize that they have been abused and must get out of the relationship. This is why the most important thing you can do for a victim of domestic violence is to stay with them in terms of your support and friendship – even if they return to their abuser multiple times.