By Mimi Kraus, LCSW-C
While domestic violence often makes headlines, it is frequently a hidden problem. Abuse may be going on right in your own neighborhood — or even in your own home. People are getting hurt. Can we do anything to stop it?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. It can happen to anyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, education or income. Contrary to widespread belief, the Jewish community is not immune. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse; sexual abuse; and emotional, economic, and verbal abuse.
Abusers use many tactics to exert power over their partner, including dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame. Emotional abuse, which leaves no outward signs such as bruises, can lead to intense stress, fear, anxiety, and depression. Often victims feel trapped, afraid to leave the home or relationship, because they fear physical harm, retribution, shame, stigma, poverty and lack of resources, or breaking up the family. Both men and women can be abusive in relationships; however, women are more likely to be injured or killed by abusive partners. While not all abusive relationships will reach the level of physical violence, all physically violent relationships begin with verbal/emotional abuse.
Since emotions can cloud our judgment, we need to pay attention to these warning signs of abuse in our own or another’s relationship:
- Concerns expressed by friends, siblings or other family members
- Someone who continuously berates an ex-spouse
- Someone whose adult children have cut off ties
- Insistence and pressuring for sex
- Withdrawal from friends, isolation from sources of support
- Yelling, name calling and glowering looks
- Violence toward objects
- Someone who is never wrong and never apologizes
- Someone who does something wrong and says, “That happened because you.…”
- Meanness to children, pets, or animals
- Possessiveness and jealousy about what you do and where you go
- Use of “silent treatment” as punishment
- Withholding information, especially about finances, or withholding money
- Ignoring, withdrawal of love and support
- Humiliation, ridicule, criticism, sarcasm, disrespect
- Manipulation, threats
If you think you are in an abusive relationship, or someone you care about is being abused, help is available. Start by coming forward and reaching out to trustworthy friends or family; this will begin to break the barriers of shame and isolation. Contact your domestic violence center or hotline. Get into counseling. Develop a safety plan, in case your situation gets worse. If you think someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, reach out and give that person your support. Offering or receiving help may save a life!
By Mimi Kraus, LCSW-C, Therapy Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
Resources in the Jewish Community:
CHANA- the Jewish Community’s Response to Domestic Violence- Office 410-234-0030, Helpline 410-234-0023
Jewish Community Services – 410-466-9200. Ask for Intake.
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.