One of the first things that I believe needs to happen when it comes to understanding Domestic Violence is to understand who is affected by Domestic Violence. I will start by saying that although I am mostly focusing on the female and young victims of Domestic Violence, men can also victims of Domestic Violence.
I’m sure we all think we have an idea of the type of women who ends up in an abusive relationship. I won’t try to guess what any of you picture when you think of a victim of domestic violence. Everybody’s preconceived notions of the women who end up being abused are going to be influenced by their own life experiences. Some of you will picture someone who is poor, and some of you will picture someone who is rich. It’s possible you will only see a woman from a minority, while others of you will only picture a Caucasian women. Most of you will probably think of someone who is insecure or emotionally weak. Others of you will know that even strong women can be victims of abuse. You might think you would have to be stupid to stay with someone who abuses you, or you might realize that high intelligence can also be a weapon that an abuser uses against you. None of those are right, but none of them are wrong either.
There is no stereotypical abuse victim. Women of all races, and all socioeconomic levels, and religions can be victims of abuse. Your intelligence level does not protect you from abuse, nor does it set you up for abuse. Women who are strong, either physically or emotionally, can still end up being involved in abusive relationships. For some abusers, a strong victim becomes a challenge. For others, a victims confidence can make the abuser feel more insecure, causing them to use emotional abuse to keep the victim from leaving. Abuse exists across all socioeconomic levels because stress is generally prevalent reason for abuse. Sometimes, that is because of other substances that the abuser uses putting them in an emotional state that they can’t handle. Sometimes, it is the way the abuser deals with their stress, and other times, the abusers blame their victims for everything wrong in their lives. From the outside, it is always hard to understand why someone becomes and stays a victim of abuse.
Growing up around abuse can make you more susceptible to being in an abusive relationship yourself, but it can also teach what you don’t want in a relationship. An example of that would be me and my own 2 siblings. We all grew up watching what I would classify as an emotionally, and mildly physically abusive relationship. Out of the 3 of us, one of my siblings ended up in a very similar relationship to our parents, one of my siblings ended up in a relationship that in the beginning was very dysfunctional and heading toward potentially being abusive, and I ended up in a strong, healthy relationship after realizing that many of the things I saw growing up and was starting to do would destroy my relationship. All three of us grew up in the same household, and with the same parents, but due to things like age and gender differences, we all saw their relationship differently.
That leads me to the people who I can consider to be the ultimate victims of domestic violence, children. I would never say that anyone asks to be in an abusive relationship, but children aren’t given a choice nor can they leave on their own normally. Children who grow up watching abusive relationships learn many things about relationships. Sometimes, it leads them to continue the cycle, and sometimes it helps them realize that they want something better. Most of the time, it teaches them to be afraid in one form or another, especially if the abuse leads to the end of the relationship whether through divorce or an unfortunate death. It can also teach them not to trust their own feelings or even that their feelings don’t matter. All of these things often lead children from abusive relationships to have a hard time figuring out how to have a strong, healthy relationship themselves.
There are more victims of domestic violence that I will talk about in a future post. I think of them as the unseen victims. They too can come from either race, religion or socioeconomic level, they just get forgotten about even more quickly than those who are actively involved in abusive relationships.