Domestic Violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behavior used to gain dominance, power, and control over an intimate partner.
Sexual violence occurs anytime someone is forced, manipulated, and/or coerced into any unwanted sexual advances or activity.
Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause that person to feel fear for her/his safety.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behavior used to gain dominance, power, and control over an intimate partner. It includes the use of illegal and legal behaviors and tactics that undermine the victim’s sense of self, free will, and safety. Battering behavior can impact other family members and can be used in other family relationships.
Domestic Violence crosses all class, race, lifestyle, and religious lines. The only clear distinction is gender. Most victims of domestic violence are women, and most perpetrators of domestic violence are men. According to the National Institute of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women are at significantly greater risk of domestic violence than men. Many academic leaders have identified domestic violence as a major criminal justice, health care, and social issue.
FORMS OF ABUSE
Physical abuse is a powerful way that an abusive person gets and keeps their partner under control and it instills an environment of constant fear. While physical abuse is the form of abuse that is most commonly known, it may or may not be a part of an abusive relationship. If physical abuse is present early in the relationship, it commonly gets worse over time. If there is no physical abuse in the relationship, it may begin to occur when the victim is pregnant or when the victim is considering leaving the relationship.
Physical violence may include: hitting; punching; kicking; slapping; strangling (choking); smothering; using or threatening to use weapons; shoving; spitting; interrupting your sleep; throwing things; destroying property; hurting or killing pets; and denying medical treatment.
Some form of sexual violence is common in abusive relationships but it is often the least discussed. It can be subtle or overt. The impact on the victim is commonly feelings of shame and humiliation.
Sexual violence may include: unwanted touching or fondling; forced sexual contact; rape; humiliating or objectifying your body; restricting your access to reproductive health care; forcing you to engage in unwanted or degrading sex acts; threatening to have sex with someone else; making you feel fearful about saying no to sex; forcing sex with other partners; violence or name calling during sex; denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Emotional abuse occurs in some form in all abusive relationships. It is a very effective tactic used by abusive partners to obtain power and control and it can cause extreme damage to the victim’s self-esteem. Commonly, emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse and to feel crazy, worthless and hopeless. It is so damaging that many survivors of domestic violence report that they would have rather “be hit” than endure the ongoing psychic damage of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse can include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling; “crazy making”; acting superior; minimizing the abuse or blaming you for their behavior; threatening and making you feel fearful; isolating you from family and friends, excessive jealously; accusing you of having affairs; and watching where you go and who you talk to.
This form of abuse is one of the least commonly known but one of the most powerful tactic of entrapping a victims in the relationship. It is so powerful that many victims of abuse describe it as the main reason that they stayed in an abusive relationship or went back to one. Some forms of financial abuse include: giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money; hiding family assets; running up debt; interfering with your job; and ruining your credit.
WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE?
Sexual violence occurs anytime someone is forced, manipulated, and/or coerced into any unwanted sexual advances or activity—any sexual acts imposed on a person without their consent. The range of sexual violence includes rape, child sexual abuse, incest, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, voyeurism, and sexual harassment.
Many survivors of sexual violence are not sure what to call their experience. Because of the culture we live in, we were taught that rape usually meant a scary dark alley and a stranger. While that may happen, the majority of sexual assaults look very different.
Most victims know, love or trust their perpetrator.
Most perpetrators appear to be “nice” people. They are often well-respected by other people. This does not mean they are not capable of perpetrating sexual assault. Many perpetrators use “niceness” as a tool to gain their victim’s trust.
Whenever we talk about threatening situations, we often hear the words fight or flight. We forget to mention freeze. Freezing is an extremely common reaction to sexual assault. Many victims describe “feeling paralyzed” or experience “an inability to speak.” If you had this experience, please know you are not alone. And please know that freezing does not mean you consented.
There are a million right ways to survive sexual violence. There is no one way to do things or one right way to react. If you have questions about an experience you have had, you can talk to a trained sexual assault victim’s advocate anytime by calling our Help Line at 316-283-0350
What is consent?
Consent is a “Yes! I want to do this!” Consent happens with communication. Consent is clear. Consent is an agreement to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing. If sex is not consensual, it is sexual violence.
What are normal emotional reactions to sexual violence?
Emotional reactions to sexual violence and trauma are as different as our personalities. There is no right way to react and there is no wrong way to react. Surviving a sexual assault is complex issue that often has many lingering effects on our mind, body and relationship to the world around us. These reactions vary person to person and they vary throughout the healing process. Some common emotional effects that many survivors experience include:
- Isolation/withdrawal/distancing from friends or loved ones
- Changes in how we trust
- Feelings of helplessness
- Sense of vulnerability
- Loss of control
- Feeling that any of these longer term reactions are a sign of weakness
Please know that whatever you are feeling is normal. It may feel confusing, and we want you to always know that you are not alone. Friends and family members of the survivor can have similar reactions. If you or a loved one want to talk through some of these feelings, this is the reason our 24-hour helpline exists. Please call anytime: 316-283-0350 or 1-800-487-0510.
WHAT IS STALKING?
Generally, stalking is thought of as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a person to feel fear for her/his safety. It does not necessarily involve physical contact but can escalate to such behavior. Stalkers can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, family members, or intimate partners. Stalking can be defined in several ways: by its general meaning; by the criminal statute; and by the Protection from Stalking Act. In Kansas, as in most other states, stalking is a crime. Criminal stalking is engaging in “a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause a reasonable person to fear for such person’s safety or the safety of a member of such person’s immediate family and the targeted person is actually placed in such fear.” – K.S.A. 21-3438.
“Stalking” is defined differently for purposes of the Kansas Protection from Stalking Act. Under this Act, “stalking” is the “intentional harassment of another person that places the other person in reasonable fear for that person’s safety.” – K.S.A. 60-31a01 et seq. For more information on stalking laws in Kansas or for legal advice, you should seek the assistance of an advocate or attorney.
While this all may sound complicated, the important thing to keep in mind is this: If you believe someone is stalking you, consider seeking help. You could be in physical danger. There are several things you can do to try to increase your safety.
Stalkers can threaten, attack, sexually assault and even kill their victims. Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile that can predict what stalkers will do. Stalkers’ behaviors can escalate, from more indirect ways of making contact (e.g. sending email or repeated phone calling) to more personal ways (delivering things to the victim’s doorstep or showing up at their work).
Many victims struggle with how to respond to the stalker. Some victims try to reason with the stalker, try to “let them down easy” or “be nice” in hopes of getting the stalker to stop the behavior. Some victims tell themselves that the behavior “isn’t that bad” or other sentiments that minimize the stalking behavior. Other victims may confront or threaten the stalker and/or try to “fight back.” These methods rarely work because stalkers are actually encouraged by any contact with the victim, even negative interactions.
Victims of stalking cannot predict what stalkers will do but can determine their own responses to the stalking behavior. Personal safety and harm prevention is of the utmost importance for victims. While victims cannot control the stalking behavior, they can be empowered to take steps to keep themselves, family and loved ones safe. The creation of a safety plan can assist victims in doing this.
The Safehope crisis helpline operates 24-hours a day and 365 days a year. We respond to calls related to stalking. You can call us anytime. Every call is answered by a live person. You can call and ask questions, explore options, or just talk through what you need to. Please call anytime: 316-283-0350 or 1-800-487-0510.
Impact of Stalking
Victimization Stalking victims respond to the stalking in a variety of ways. Some of the common reactions to being stalked include the following:
- Feeling fear of what the stalker will do.
- Feeling vulnerable, unsafe, and not knowing who to trust.
- Feeling anxious, irritable, impatient, or on edge.
- Feeling stressed, including having trouble concentrating, sleeping or remembering things.
- Feeling confused, frustrated or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid.
– Stalking Resource Center (2010)
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