1 in 4 women will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime, and that statistic only takes into account physical violence against women. There are many different kinds of abuse and people of any gender in any kind of relationship can be victims. The Medical Station would like to further educate you on the realities of domestic abuse because the more we know about it, the more we can do to stop it!
Kinds of abuse
Despite popular belief that abuse is limited to physical violence, there are actually many different kinds of abuse. They are all equally wrong and no one deserves to be abused in any of the following ways. The best way to identify when abuse is happening is to understand the different types. According to The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, the types of abuse include economic, sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, academic and psychological. It also specifies circumstances where the use of technology plays a role or different dynamics when immigrants or disabled people are involved. If you would like to learn more about the types of abuse, visit their website or any of the resources at the bottom of this page.
Signs of an abusive relationship
Distinguishing signs of an abusive relationship can be tricky especially if they are subtle or well-hidden. Some of the general signs of abuse in relationships include: being afraid of or desperately wanting to please their partner, blindly following what their partner says to do, discussing their partner’s jealousy or protectiveness as well as receiving frequent aggressive phone calls. The victim also may have a very low self-esteem or even isolate themselves. There are also different signs based on the kind of abuse. For example, frequent injuries and/or bruises may be a sign of physical abuse. It is likely the victim will cover up the injuries or dismiss them as accidents.
What should you do?
If your family/friend tells you they are being abused
In this situation it is important to remain calm and give support to the victim. If they have chosen to share this with you it means that they trust you and likely want help. You should not be judgmental or ask them too many questions. It is also important to not give advice and instead, offer your help in reporting the abuse so they can get in touch with someone who can give useful and professional guidance.
If you see signs of domestic abuse
If you believe someone you know is being abused in their relationship, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Firstly, it is important to approach the family member or friend you believe may be abused and calmly discuss your concerns with them in a non-threatening way. It is very likely that the person could deny or even not recognize that they are victims of abuse. Try and help them create a plan of action in order to get them away from their abuser or report it. You can also contact a hotline or consult websites in order to learn the best way to approach the situation.
If you are being abused
If you have recognized that one or more of the kinds of abuse above describes what is happening in your relationship, you have already taken the first step in helping yourself. Every situation is different, but you need to take the steps that work best for you in order to get yourself out of the harmful situation. For many, this involves contacting a loved one for support. It could also mean calling a support line or seeing a social worker. Remember, this is the time to think about your own best interest. It is important that you are safe and treated with respect.
Some helpful Resources and Hotlines
Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness- stoprelationshipabuse.org
Love is Respect- loveisrespect.org
The National Domestic Violence Hotline- thehotline.org
Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships- teensagainstabuse.com
The Medical Station believes there is never an excuse to justify abuse of any kind. We urge you to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in their relationship. Feel free to call us at (416) 633-2345 to book an appointment or book online to set up a meeting with our Social Worker if you’d like to discuss more.
This article was written by Hailey Adler, one of our Summer Administrative Interns. Hailey received a BSc. from the University of Guelph and is attending Queen’s University for a Masters of Anatomical Sciences. She is passionate about all things medical related as well as nutrition and cancer research.