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What Teens Should Know about Domestic Violence

by Sophia Ogoy, Daya Intern

Domestic violence awareness is critical to creating safer communities. Many teens, children, adults, and elders, regardless of race or gender, experience abuse every day. Becoming aware of the signs and how to support survivors, can help end the cycle of violence all over the world. So, here are some things that teens should know about domestic violence:

To start, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence comes in many forms including (but not limited to) physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when harm is inflicted on purpose toward another person. It is one of the more recognizable forms of abuse as it can show visible signs of bruises, scars, and wounds, which are harder to cover up. Physical abuse is used to assert power and control over the victim. Examples of physical abuse are kicking, punching, and strangling.

Emotional and Verbal Abuse

Emotional and verbal abuse happens when the abuser uses words to make the victim feel belittled and inferior. This type of abuse includes threats, insults, gaslighting, and more. Emotional and verbal abuse can be hard to detect as it is easier to hide, but really erodes the confidence of the victim.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser inflicts unwanted sexual activity using threats, force, and without consent. This also includes sharing or posting intimate photos or videos of the victim. Sexual abuse is often perpetrated by an intimate partner, in an established relationship. Sexual abuse, like the other types of abuse, is used to gain control through stripping victims of their bodily autonomy.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse occurs when the perpetrator controls the victim’s financial independence and freedom. It is not the most known type of domestic violence but is one of the most common. Examples of financial abuse are having bank accounts under the abuser’s name only, enforcing a strict allowance, and coercing the victim to sign documents against their will.

How do you know a person is a victim of domestic violence? There are many signs to see if somebody is a victim. Here are some of them according to WebMD:

  • They tend to make excuses for multiple injuries. You might see them often having bruises and wounds, and when you ask about it, they might say they’re just clumsy and that they tripped.

  • They may also exhibit personality changes. Someone you might know, a friend or a cousin, might’ve been confident and happy before but suddenly becomes self-conscious and depressed. It might mean that they are a victim of domestic violence.

  • Constantly checking in with a certain someone could be a sign. If they were a victim, their abuser could’ve told them to consistently report what they’re doing and where they are at all times.

  • Never having money on hand. Someone might be assigning them an allowance and have all bank accounts in their name that restrict them from getting money. This situation could be financial abuse.

  • Overly worried about pleasing someone. They might feel threatened by someone and feel they have to be on their good side to stay safe.

  • Absent for work, school, or social outings for no clear reason. It’s possible that someone could have been restricting them at the time or that maybe they were too hurt to go because of someone.

  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in the summer. They might be using clothes to cover up bruises, wounds, and scars caused by an abuser.

If you ever detect these signs in someone, do not jump to conclusions. Talk to them first and gain insight before taking any action.

What should you do if someone you know is a victim of domestic violence? Recognize, respond, and refer!

Recognize: Detect and recognize signs of abuse. Observe their behavior towards themselves and others.

Respond: Listen, believe, and validate. Be thoughtful of what to say and show empathy and compassion towards them. Give them options, not advice. Do not blame the victim at any cost. Maintain confidentiality and know your boundaries.

Refer: Offer support to the victim, check-in, and confide for assistance if necessary. Give them Daya’s confidential helpline number, (713) 981-7645, so they can get connected with support services and resources.

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