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Know the Signs of Domestic Violence & How to Get Help

Know the Signs of Domestic Violence & How to Get Help

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Domestic violence does not discriminate; it can happen to any person of any gender. It’s important to recognize the signs of domestic violence to get you or someone you care about the help they need.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse, or relationship abuse, is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner in an intimate relationship to maintain power and control over another partner. Domestic violence includes physical and sexual violence such as hitting, strangulation, or coerced sexual acts, but it also includes acts like threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation.

Domestic violence can happen in any community, says Forensic Nurse Examiner Pamela Holtzinger, DNP, BHA, RN, CEN, SANE-A, SANE-P, AFN-BC.

“The physical and emotional toll can be devastating for individuals as well as other family members,” says Holtzinger. “But help is available. Specially trained teams such as Frederick Health’s Forensic Services Team are prepared to support and care for patients after experiencing domestic violence. In coordination with our community partners, Forensic Services is able to offer guidance navigating the best options for each patient."

What Are the Signs of Domestic Violence?

It’s not always easy to tell if a relationship will become abusive. In fact, many abusive partners may seem perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Controlling, possessive behaviors don’t happen overnight; they emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

No relationship is the same, so domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship. However, the one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner continually finds ways to have more power and control over their partner.

Some signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Controls who you see, where you go, and what you do
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Intimidates you with weapons like guns or knives
  • Pressures you to have sex or sexual acts you’re not comfortable with
  • Insults, demeans, or humiliates you

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can occur in many different forms, regardless of whether it is physical, emotional, or any other form. It often follows an escalating pattern where the controlling behaviors become worse over time.

Possibly the most recognized form of domestic violence, physical abuse includes behaviors such as:

  • Hitting, slapping, punching, kicking
  • Coercion of substance use
  • Using weapons or intimidating with weapons
  • Burning
  • Strangulation
  • Damaging personal property
  • Controlling or withholding medication or medical attention

Emotional abuse occurs when an intimate partner tries to control their partner with behaviors such as:

  • Insulting, name-calling, humiliating
  • Manipulating
  • Blaming
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Intimidating
  • Stalking
  • Shaming
  • Isolation

Sexual abuse is not about sex—it’s about power. Sexual abuse includes any sexual act performed without a partner’s consent, including:

  • Forcing a partner to have sex with others
  • Pursuing sexual activity when the victim is not fully conscious
  • Hurting the partner during sex
  • Birth control sabotage/coercing partner to have sex without protection

Technological abuse includes the use of technology to control and stalk a partner. This type of abuse can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s most common among teenagers. Examples of technological abuse include:

  • Hacking into a partner’s email, social media, or personal accounts
  • Demanding to know the partner’s passwords
  • Monitoring the partner’s location, calls, and messages
  • Monitoring interactions on social media

Financial abuse is any behavior that maintains control over an intimate partner’s finances. Behaviors include:

  • Preventing the partner from attending work
  • Controlling financial assets; putting the partner on ‘an allowance’
  • Damaging the partner’s credit score

Abuse by immigration status includes specific tactics of abuse, such as:

  • Destroying immigration papers
  • Threatening to hurt the partner’s family in their home country
  • Threatening to have the partner deported
  • Restricting the partner from learning English

National and State Resources Are Available

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic violence and need help, here are some national and state resources you can reach out to:

Additionally, there are also some Frederick-based options that can help, including our Forensic Nursing team.

Frederick Health Forensic Nursing

Violence or assault is never okay. If you or someone you care about is experiencing abuse or violence, Frederick Health’s forensic nursing team is available to provide specialized care tailored to each patient’s needs in a safe and private location.

The forensic nursing team at Frederick Health will help you during an unsafe or crisis situation. This special team of nurses and social workers provides compassionate, private care to those who have experienced assault or abuse. They also help collect evidence and work with the criminal justice system.

Access to this care is private and confidential. You can talk to someone in person, by phone, and through video capabilities. You don’t need a special app and no law enforcement is required to seek help.

If you need to get in touch with our forensic nursing team at any time, day or night, call 240-566-HELP (4357). If you feel that your life or the life of a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately.