“Domestic violence is something that impacts someone’s mental health, but there are all these other pieces to it,” says Christine Murray, LPC, LMFT. “There’s no easy way to say, ‘This type of abuse has this specific answer.’ It’s different with each person. Any form of abuse can be really hurtful to somebody.”
A person may face hardships and trials, but none as hard as when confronted with the threat of violence at home. A person’s home should be a place of refuge and security. When it ceases to be a place of peace because there is a threat of violence, this is considered domestic assault.
What Is Domestic Assault?
A husband slaps his wife because she forgot to cook. A mother locks her kids in the closet for misbehaving.
Both scenarios above are examples of domestic assault, and as such everyone regardless of age, gender and orientation must be protected from them. Domestic violence is an act of abuse against anyone living in the same household. It is a threat of violence against any family member affiliated either by blood or marriage, against roommates and even people that are and were dating. Understanding domestic assault and accepting its many ugly forms is the first step in battling it.
What Are Some Examples?
Certain types of assault fall under domestic aggressive. Threatening a person’s well-being by feigning punches is considered an assault. Making a person feel threatened that she fears for her life is another. Hitting, biting and shoving are the more obvious examples.
Sexual coercion on the other hand, whether between spouses or people in a relationship still constitutes domestic assault as long as consent is not given its sexual abuse. It doesn’t matter if a couple has been married for years, rape is rape and it cannot be cloaked under the mantle of matrimony.
Is It Just Physical?
Physical wounds heal. In time all scars will disappear, and yet domestic assault is not just physical. It can also be emotional and more often than not has an economic component. Abuse is all about power. Abusers may systematically erode a person’s self-worth without inflicting any physical injury but through words and actions and by withholding financial support. This does not mean that people who have financial resources don’t get abused, but it’s more common for those who don’t have the means of escaping or the money to be able to live outside the home.
Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. says, “Sometimes, the emotional manipulation is complex enough that the person who is being controlled actually believes that they themselves are the villain, or that they are extremely lucky that their controlling partner “puts up” with them. Whether controlling behavior leads to more severe emotional or physical abuse or not, it is not a healthy situation.”
How Can One Fight Back Against Domestic Assault?
Any abuse is best battled by speaking up. Things will never get better and in time will get worse. The first step in fighting back abuse is acknowledging that it’s happening. This can be hard especially for people who have been repeatedly abused. But if a person finds the courage to get out of the relationship, be armed with everything. Threatening notes, emails, texts and other information that will prove the abuse is vital.
Physical evidence must be documented along with instances and place of abuse because a lawyer who is experienced in handling domestic assault will need resources to prove your case. There are also shelters and legal assistance available for victims of abuse as well as organizations that help people get out and stay out of the abusive relationship.
Dr. Lata McGinn, a clinical psychologist, urges, “If your partner’s actions, words, and behavior are starting to make you feel overwhelmed and powerless, they are too controlling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a friend, relative, or professional.”
Punishments Of Domestically Assault
Depending on the gravity of the abuse, for instance, the Florida courts usually jail domestic abusers for five days with some being sentenced to longer prison time. Community service or probation is also a typical sentence. For offenders who commit assault and battery, additional criminal charges are given and sentenced between 60 days to a year for a misdemeanor and up to 15 years for felonies.
How Can Victims Find Reassurance And Stability To Move Forward?
Support systems are in place to help any victim of domestic abuse. If you or your loved one is being abused, first contact a lawyer to get the right support. Some legal professionals are equipped to deal and assist victims in all stages- from getting out to filing charges and eventually during recovery time. Likewise, there are local support groups in your area which can help you find your way back to normalcy.