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What is Domestic Violence? Am I a Victim?

In the United States an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner - that's more than 10 million men AND women annually. However, domestic violence is NOT ALWAYS physical! Emotional abuse, financial abuse, coercive control, parential alienation and other control tactics are damaging to all parties in a divorce situation. 1 on 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience physical violence, often severe in nature, by an intimate partner. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to repeat the patterns they see in their own relationships. Domestic violence transcends and socioeconomic levels, no one is immune and no one should suffer in silence. Domestic Violence is not one size fits all. Let's take a look at the types of Domestic Violence and Divorce.

Financial abuse - the most common form of domestic abuse/interpersonal violence. This is where one person controls or exploits another person's financial resources without their consent. It involves behaviors aimed to restrict access to financial resources, manipulating the economic situation, or exerting control over financial decisions. 99% of domestic violence involve financial abuse. Key aspects of financial abuse include:

Controlling Finances: The abuser may take control of the victim's financial resources, such as managing all income, controlling access to bank accounts, and making financial decisions without the victim's input.

Withholding Money: The abuser might intentionally withhold money, preventing the victim from meeting their basic needs or accessing essential services.

Sabotaging Employment or Education: The abuser may hinder the victim's ability to work or attend school, jeopardizing their financial independence and limiting their opportunities for financial growth.

Forcing Economic Dependence: Financial abusers will intentionally isolate their victims making them financially dependent, thereby making it difficult for the victim to leave the abusive relationship.

Coercive Debt: The abuser may force the victim into incurring debts or ruin their credit, creating financial instability and making it harder for the victim to break free from the abusive relationship.

Using Money as a Tool of Control: Financial abuse is often intertwined with other forms of abuse, such as emotional or physical abuse, where money is used as a means to exert power and control over the victim.

Coercive Control refers to a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviors used by one person in a relationship to dominate, manipulate, and intimidate the other. Coercive control involves a range of tactics that are more subtle and insidious, aiming to establish dominance and control. It is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that may occur in various types of relationships, such as intimate partnerships, familial relationships, or even friendships. Key elements of coercive control include:

Isolation: The abuser may isolate the victim from friends, family, or support networks, making the victim more dependent on the abuser.

Monitoring and Surveillance: Constantly checking the victim's activities, including their whereabouts, phone calls, messages, and online presence, to instill a sense of constant scrutiny and fear.

Micro-managing: Controlling various aspects of the victim's life, such as their daily activities, appearance, or choices, in an effort to undermine their autonomy and independence.

Manipulation and Gaslighting: The abuser often engages in gaslighting, manipulating the victim's perception of reality, making them doubt their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Economic Abuse: Controlling or restricting the victim's access to financial resources, creating economic dependency and limiting the victim's ability to leave the relationship.

Threats and Intimidation: Using explicit or implicit threats of harm to instill fear and compliance in the victim.

Emotional Abuse: Employing various forms of emotional abuse, such as humiliation, degradation, and degradation, to erode the victim's self-esteem and self-worth.

Parental Alienation refers to a situation in which one parent attempts to undermine or damage the child's relationship with the other parent. It typically involves a series of behaviors or tactics by one parent to influence the child negatively toward the other parent, leading to the child's rejection or hostility. Parental alienation often occurs in the context of divorce or separation, many times associated with high-conflict disputes. Key features of parental alienation may include:

Negative Influence: The alienating parent may speak negatively about the other parent in front of the child, making derogatory comments or portraying them as unfit, unreliable, or dangerous.

Interference with Contact: The alienating parent may interfere with the child's contact or visitation with the other parent, violating court-ordered custody arrangements.

False Accusations: The alienating parent may make false accusations against the other parent, such as claims of abuse or neglect, to damage their reputation and relationship with the child.

Undermining Communication: The alienating parent may attempt to limit or control communication between the child and the other parent, creating obstacles or restrictions.

Creating Loyalty Conflicts: The child may be put in a position where they feel compelled to choose sides between their parents, creating loyalty conflicts that can be emotionally damaging.

Manipulative Tactics: The alienating parent may use manipulative tactics, guilt, or emotional pressure to align the child's feelings and attitudes with their own.

Narcissistic Personality Discorder - Narcissism, when it reaches the level of a personality disorder, is often referred to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Individuals with NPD often display a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. While narcissism itself is not inherently abusive, the behaviors associated with narcissistic traits or NPD can lead to emotionally abusive dynamics in relationships. Key behaviors associated with narcissistic abuse may include:

Lack of Empathy: Narcissists often struggle to understand or validate the feelings and experiences of others, leading to a lack of emotional support and connection.

Manipulation: Narcissists may use manipulation tactics to control and exploit others for their own gain, often disregarding the well-being of those around them.

Gaslighting: Gaslighting involves manipulating someone into doubting their own perceptions, memories, or sanity. Narcissists may engage in gaslighting to maintain control over others.

Exploitation: Narcissists may exploit others for their own needs and desires, often without regard for the impact on the other person's feelings or well-being.

Entitlement: A sense of entitlement is a common trait in narcissism, leading individuals with NPD to believe they deserve special treatment and privileges, often at the expense of others.

Lack of Boundaries: Narcissists may have difficulty respecting the boundaries of others, invading personal space or disregarding the autonomy of those around them.

If you are a victim of abuse speak up, don't suffer silently and know that you are not alone.


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