Intimate partner violence (commonly referred to as IPV) is on the rise, with many areas seeing an uptick in domestic violence and abuse reports since the COVID-19 pandemic began this past March. Stress, isolation, fear, and anxiety all fuel aggression in an already increasingly unhealthy situation.
According to the CDC, the term “intimate partner violence” describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.
Statistics are startling.
- About 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact.
- Over 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Intimate partner violence is preventable, and one of the most effective ways to prevent it is to know the warning signs of an unhealthy and potentially abusive relationship.
Common Warning Signs of Unhealthy Relationships:
Relationships that are unhealthy are based on power and control. Early in a relationship, controlling behaviors may not seem like a very big deal, but at their root, these behaviors are about power and control.
Any kind of intentional, unwanted physical contact with you or something close to your body. Some examples of physical abuse are:
Physical contact, such as scratching, hitting, kicking, punching, biting, strangling
Throwing an object at you
Pulling your hair
Pushing or pulling you
Grabbing your clothing, especially in an attempt to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere
Grabbing your face to make you look at them
Using any kind of weapon to cause or threaten physical harm
Non-physical behaviors meant to manipulate your emotions.
Some examples of emotional abuse are:
Isolating you from friends and family
Your partner tries to tell you what to do, what to wear, who you can be friends with. They may constantly check up on you, monitor your location, or question your intentions. Excessive calling and texting is a sign of controlling behavior. Some people will use threats to harm themselves or somebody else to make you do things.
Your partner embarrasses you, calls you names, insults you, or makes fun of you in front of others.
Someone who has “anger issues” is at risk for controlling and unhealthy behavior in a relationship. If your partner is unpredictable, gets angry very easily, and you feel like you are walking on eggshells around them, it’s a good sign this is an unhealthy relationship.
Your partner tries to pressure you to do things that you don’t want to do. This could be sexual activities, drug and alcohol use, or other things. If you are feeling pressure from a partner, it feels like they just won’t take “no” for an answer.
Abuse is not your fault
If you find yourself in a situation that is unhealthy and/or abusive, it’s normal to feel confused, afraid, angry and sometimes trapped. These are all normal responses. Often people will blame themselves for what is happening to them. The truth is, no matter what others say you are never responsible for an intimate partner’s abusive actions. Intimate partner violence is never caused by stress, anger issues or being provoked. It’s a choice to be abusive.
Signs of a Healthy Relationship
Here are some signs of a relationship that is healthy. Two major characteristics exist in healthy relationships: communication and boundaries.
In a healthy relationship, you are able to talk about things that are important to you and important to your relationship. Healthy couples care about what the other person is thinking and feeling.
Respect is evident in a healthy relationship. Partners have mutual respect for one another, which is essential in maintaining healthy relationships. Respect yourself by saying no to things that make you uncomfortable and respect your partner by listening to their feelings and concerns.
Conflict is a normal part of any relationship. In a healthy relationship, conflicts are handled without abusive behaviors. Healthy conflict resolution takes some practice, and requires both partners to work together toward a solution.
Shared power in a relationship keeps both partners feeling healthy and safe. Think of equality as “give and take.” In a healthy relationship, both partners share the effort and responsibility. When you put a lot of effort into the relationship, and your partner never seems to have time for you, there is no equality.
In a healthy relationship, both partners feel cared for, supported and respected. Support includes listening to one another, helping each other out, attending events that are important to your partner.
If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, help is available. Seek the help of a trusted friend or relative, a member of your community such as church, work or other activities you are a part of, and reach out to the domestic violence organization in your area.
Abusive relationships are dangerous and it’s important to seek help right away.
Redeemed Life Counseling is here to help! Our therapists are skilled in helping people learn healthy ways to navigate relationships.
Call or email us today to set up an appointment with a therapist who can help you.
940-222-8552 or email [email protected]
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