By: Analeah Rosen
Valentine’s Day is a time to relish in the intimacy of new relationships, to rekindle old loves, take chances with a crush, and eat boxes of chocolate. But in all of the frenzy, it is easy to forget that for many people the security of a safe relationship is a distant hope. In fact, according to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus, one in three adolescents face physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse in romantic relationships. And according to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 14 million men and women experience physical abuse within their relationships with four out of five of those victims being female.
There are forms of abuse that are more readily associated with intimate partnership, like physical and emotional abuse. However, the more subtle forms of abuse, like financial and digital abuse, can be harder to detect and often go underreported.
The following is a breakdown of the different categories of abuse, and how they might manifest within domestic partnerships. If you identify with any of these situations, or know of someone who is experiencing something similar, we urge you to call the JCS Shalom Bayit Hotline at (305) 576-1818. The first step to eradicating abuse, is to recognize harmful behavior. All calls are taken in the strictest confidence.
This is any intentional and unwanted contact with your body. It can be direct, like pulling your hair, or indirect, like throwing a book or shoe near you. Physical abuse can also involve unwanted sexual contact. An important thing to remember is that physical abuse doesn’t always leave a mark and may include controlling your movement within a physical space, like preventing you from entering or leaving a room.
Emotional abuse often occurs simultaneously with other forms of abuse. Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking are all a part of the emotional abuse spectrum. Emotional abuse is often an attempt at controlling your behavior through intimidation, retaliation and humiliation.
Often coincides with physical and emotional abuse. It is ANY unwanted sexual contact. Sexual contact can range from a seemingly innocent tap on the butt or kiss on the cheek to rape or attempted rape. Sexual abuse also encompasses emotional abuse of a sexual nature. For example, insulting your body, sexual performance, or sexuality. When someone trespasses your sexual boundaries, whether that relates to what protection to use or when to engage in sexual activity, this is also considered sexual abuse.
This form of abuse is often harder to detect. It includes a partner telling you what you can and cannot buy or requiring control of your bank accounts. Intimate partners have no right to use your money or tell you how to spend it. This abuse often goes undetected because partners might be accessing your financial information without your knowledge, like using your social security number to take out loans or, claiming your children on their tax refunds. The important thing to remember is that you control your finances and who has access to them.
This form of abuse is digitized emotional and verbal abuse. It is the use of technology to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate you. It can include controlling your online social networks, having access to your passwords and tracking your phone calls. It also includes broadcasting your private information or photos over social media platforms.
Although these are only a few examples of how abuse manifests, if you or someone you know is experiencing anything similar to what is described, we urge you to reach out to the JCS Shalom Bayit. The program offers assistance and confidential services to help you and your children leave an unhealthy dynamic and begin the path to a new life full of care and respect. Because, everyone deserves a lifetime of love and respect, not just a few flowers one day a year.
Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2008_focus_teen_dating_violence.pdf