October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a good reminder that not everyone is in a caring and safe environment. An estimated 10 million people a year in the U.S. are physically abused by an intimate partner. This harm may come in form of physical, sexual, psychological abuse.
Domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) crosses all demographics and socioeconomic levels. It is about power and control over another person. Both women and men may be victims. While there are some commonalities among abusers (low self-esteem, drug or alcohol use, a desire for power or control, or a history of family abuse, among others), you cannot identify an abuser simply on sight. In some cases, abuse may come later in a relationship based on a trigger event such as the loss of a job or increased relationship stress.
Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
In many cases, there will be early warning signs that an individual may become abusive. These behaviors may include:
- Controlling access to your friends or family or expressing jealousy of your relationships with others
- Pushing, shoving, or hitting
- Yelling at you or threatening you
- Making demeaning comments or putting you down
- Attempting to control finances/spending
- Destroying your belongings
- Leaving you in an unfamiliar location
- Threatening your children or pets
Find other possible warning signs here. Abusers often begin these patterns of behavior as teens, so parents should be aware of the signs your child may be in an abusive relationship. Talk to your teens and make sure they understand which behaviors are appropriate, which are not, and what to do if they feel threatened. The Centers for Disease Control have started a program called Dating Matters® with resources to help teens navigate relationships.
Businesses on Watch
Domestic violence will always carry over into the work environment. Those who are abused may miss work due to injuries, be unable to focus on work because of what is happening at home, be harassed at work by their abusers (phone calls, emails, onsite visits), or the abuser may control the employee’s availability to do work tasks outside the office (travel, attend business events, etc.).
Some companies have made successful efforts to bring awareness to the problem of domestic violence and help ensure employees are aware there is help available. Verizon, Home Depot and Macy’s all have trained employee assistance teams with the skills to identify possible domestic violence situations and address them. Their HR professionals may ask employees with absences or other warning signs about domestic violence and provide information on resources.
If you are in an abusive relationship, there are numerous resources available to you. We encourage you to get the help you need. Here are just a few options: