This post will talk more about the unseen victims of Domestic Violence. These victims rarely get talked about or make headlines, but they are victims nonetheless. Some of these victims are doing their jobs, some are trying to help, and some are related to either the abuser or the victim.
I’m going to start by touching a little more on the children who grow up witnessing domestic violence. Last time, I touched on the ways that kids from abusive relationships often have messed up relationships themselves. Even when they end up in a healthy relationship, most children who witness abuse suffer with mental health problems at some point in their lives. Depression, eating disorders, addiction, and suicide are all more common among the children of victims or abusers. When you grow up around abuse, you often have a hard time trusting people, especially in relationships. It can also be very hard to trust or express your own emotions, especially anger. Children who grow up in abusive situations are more likely to end up in abusive relationships themselves, which often leads to more children growing up around abuse. Even when children from an abusive relationship are in a healthy one of their own, it is often hard for them to believe they are safe.
That leads me into other family members and friends of the victim or abuser. Whether they are connected to the victim or the abuser or both, they are still affected by the abusive relationship. Sometimes it is because they lose their loved one either temporarily or permanently because of the abuse. Other times it is because they have to make a choice between what they believe is right or wrong. After learning the truth about an abusive relationship, family and friends have to face many new realities. Sometimes that means that they get their friend or family member back, but the relationship will never be completely the same. If they lose their loved one permanently, they may suffer from mental health problems as well. When a victim with children is killed, it can also affect both sides of the surviving children’s families as they try to figure out how to keep those children in their lives and safe. Again, whether permanently or not, it is also possible for friends or family members to become victims of the abuser themselves if they try to help their loved one.
That leads to the next set of unseen victims I would like to discuss. These victims can be anyone who tries to help, whether because it is their job or not. Police Officers, and EMTS are the two most likely victims when an abusive relationship reaches its boiling point, but anyone who gets in the way of an abuser can also become a victim at that point. It could easily be a friend or family member who tries to help the victim leave, or even a stranger who takes on the abuser. Counselors, social workers, or shelter employees are also at high risk of becoming innocent victims as they help the victim get away.
The final unseen victims that I will talk about are definitely the most controversial ones, they are the abusers themselves. Whether it is through incarceration or death, abusers can end up as victims of the abusive relationship. Although incarceration may be appropriate, it affects abusers in multiple ways. While an abuser is incarcerated, they are at greater risk of being killed by other inmates than the general prison population. If they are released, not only will they have a felony on their record which affects job prospects, but they are likely to have lost friends and loved ones due to their crimes as well. The death of an abuser may be the only way to resolve the situation, whether through self defense or police action, but it is still a death.