What is Abuse?

It is against the law for a man to hit or threaten his wife, girlfriend, or children and a woman to hit or threaten her husband, boyfriend, or children. Abuse can take many different forms:

  • Emotional Abuse – is making belittling or degrading comments, questioning one’s judgement or sanity, closely monitoring one’s movements and threats of violence.
  • Physical Abuse – can be slapping, pushing, kicking, hitting, choking, and hitting with an object or weapon. This is often accompanied by mental abuse.
  • Sexual Abuse – is someone forcing his partner into unwanted sexual activity either through violence or the threat of violence.
  • Marital Rape – became a crime in Pennsylvania in February 1985. It is estimated that one in ten wives in the US is raped by their husbands and that as many as 50% of women who are physically abused are also sexually abused. Marital rape is as emotionally painful as stranger rape.

About Abuse

  • Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any gender, race, social class, or religion.
  • Abuse often occurs without apparent reason or because of some minor occurrence.
  • Alcohol and drugs are often times a factor in the situation.
  • Abuse may increase during pregnancy or times of unemployment.
  • Abuse often occurs in homes where a person feels that their partner is his/her possession and she/he makes them angry.
  • Abuse is the most underreported crime in America, often because of the shame and guilt that the victim feels. Sometimes the victim may wonder if it is a normal part of family life.
  • Victimes often do not leave, or may return, becaue of fear that they lack resources to be on their own such as a job, housing, and personal support.
  • Victims sometimes stay becaue they feel that if it is their fault, they should try to “do better” to keep the family together.
  • Abuse tends to happen in cycles, does not just go away and tends to get worse over time.

Physical Abuse

The Cycle of Violence

Learn to recognize the patterns in an abusive relationship. The cycle begins with Tension Building, continues to the Battering Incident, and ends with the Calm Respite…then the cycle continues back to Tension Building. The cycle continues over…and over…and over! See the pattern below.

The Batterer The Victim
Irritable, Frustrated, Unable to cope with everyday stresses
Will attempt to appease the batterer by becoming compliant, nurturing, or staying out of his/her way
Fears that the victim will leave him/her and the batterer’s fears are reinforced by the victim’s coping strategy of withdrawing and avoiding the batterer.
Often assumes responsibility for controlling the batterer’s anger and denies the inevitability of the beating, as well as their terror.
The Batterer The Victim
Intent is to teach the victim a lesson, not to inflict injury. In the process, the batterer loses control of his/her rage.
Will deny the incident, his/her injuries, or his/her terror.
Is the only one who can end this phase.
Needs a safe place during this phase.
The Batterer The Victim
Is kind and charming. Is very afraid the victim will leave.
Wants to believe that the suffering is over. Believes that this “good” side of the batterer’s personality is the person they love, and develops learned helplessness.

12 Signs of a Batterer:

  • Jealous
  • Blames others (including you) for their faults.
  • Blames circumstances for their problems. (“If I only had a job, I wouldn’t be so upset”)
  • Behavior is unpredictable.
  • Belittles you verbally.
  • Cannot control their anger.
  • Always asks for a second chance.
  • Say they’ll change and they won’t do it again.
  • Their family resolves problems with violence.
  • Plays on your guilt. (“if you love me, you’d ….”)
  • Behavior often worsens when using alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Are close-minded. Their way is the only way.

Emotional Abuse

Signs of an Emotional Abuser

If your partner or someone you care for is treating you in the following ways…they are an Emotional Abuser. Know the signs!

  • Ignored your feelings
  • Ridiculed or insulted you or your most valued beliefs (your religion, heritage, or class)
  • ridiculed or insulted women/men as a group
  • Continually criticized you, called you names
  • Shouted at you
  • Claimed you were “crazy” or “stupid”
  • Withheld approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment
  • Insulted or drove away your friends or family
  • Refused to socialize with you
  • Kept you from working, controlled your money, refused to give you money
  • Made all decisions about you, your children, and your activities, etc.
  • Took car keys away or disabled your car
  • Regularly threatned to leave or told you to leave
  • Threatened to hurt you or your family
  • Punished or deprived the children when he/she was angry at you
  • Threatened to kidnap your children if you left him/her
  • Abused pets to hurt you
  • Told you about his/her affairs
  • Harassed you about affairs he/she imagined you having
  • Manipulated you with lies and contradictions

Sexual Abuse

“The pain of rape and abuse can be very intense and at times it may feel like it never goes away. You may feel as though it’s out of control and you can do is try and ride it out as best you can”

Who is the victim of sexual assault? In one simple word…ANYONE! The victim is young or old, male or female, attractive or unattractive, married or unmarried, employed or unemployed. Even strong individuals can be overpowered.

Definition of Sexual Violence/Assault

Sexual violence violates a person’s trust and feeling of safety. It occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. The continuum of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.

Rape is a crime. It is motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm. It is not motivated by sexual desire. Rapists use sex as a weapon to dominate others.

Reporting the Sexual Assault
If you are sexually assaulted…

  • DO NOT wash, douche, or change your clothes.
  • DO NOT touch the evidence or any struggle or disarray.
  • DO call the police or go directly to the hospital (although you are not required to involve the police, this is the recommended course of action).

A police officer will come and ask you the following questions…

  • Where the assault took place?
  • What the suspect looks like?
  • How the suspect left the scene?
  • Where there any witnesses to this crime?

Know the Facts on Sexual Assault

  • Rape is a crime of violence and aggression. NOT A SEXUAL ACT.
  • Almost all victims are threatened with death or serious bodily injury.
  • Victims DO NOT provoke the attack. They are generally chosen because they appear vulnerable or defenseless. Over 90% of all rapes are planned.
  • Most rapists know their victims. Over half of all rapes occur in the victim’s home.
  • A rape occurs every eight minutes
  • Intra-family sexual assault or incest is not uncommon.
  • Rape is a crime against society. It effects everyone who is close to the victim: spouse, children and friends. It can have a devastating affect on all involved.

Child Sexual Assault

Children are innocent and are so hungry for love, affection, and acceptance that they accept any actions they view as providing things to them.

If this “affection” comes to a child as bad, the child may not know whether or not to tell, who to tell, or how to tell. Often the child has been threatened in some way which will prevent the child from telling-even if the child wants to tell someone.

If you suspect that your child may be the victim of sexual assault or incest, it is important for you to encourage your child to talk about what may or may not have happened. Discuss the idea of “good secrets” and “bad secrets” as well as the concept of “good touches” and “bad touches” with your child. Contact CAPSEA, Inc. for help and further information.

If You Have Been Raped…

  • Go to a safe place.
  • Call the police. Whether or not you choose to prosecute, you may save someone else from being the next victim.
  • Do not change your clothes, bathe, douche, or wash away the evidence.
  • Go to a hospital to be checked and to have injured treated.
  • Try to recall as many facts as possible about the attacker and circumstances of the assault. Write down anything you remember including the attacker’s clothes, height, weight, skin color, car, license number, etc.
  • Call C.A.P.S.E.A., Inc. or PCAR (800-692-7445). Services are available regardless of whether or not you choose to report the incident to the police.
  • A Sexual Assault Counselor will provide transportation and accompaniment to the hospital and police station. The counselor is there to offer support and answer your questions.

Helpful Pointers in Talking to your Child about Sexual Assualt

  • Try to remain calm
  • Children usually do not lie about sexual assault
  • Find out your child’s name for his or her different body parts.
  • Let your child tell their story in their own words.
  • Talk to our child in a room where they are very comfortable.
  • Let your child know you believe them and are glad they talked to you.

Indicators that Sexual Abuse May be Occurring to your Child

  • Sudden academic difficulties
  • Depression, crying
  • Withdrawal, few friends
  • Regression: child may return to earlier forms of behavior whenever under stress. Examples: Bed-wetting, thumb sucking, excessive clinging behavior
  • Increased irritability and hostility
  • Fears: Child might report new fears, experience frightening nightmares, fearful of going into a particular place, etc.
  • Self-destructive behavior, drug & alcohol abuse, runaway behavior
  • Seductive behaviors, promiscuity
  • Excessive sexual interest

Physical Signs of Sexual Assault

  • Unexplained bruises or cuts
  • Swelling of the genitals, buttocks or inner thighs
  • Recurrent bladder or vaginal infections
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing

Aftermath of Sexual Assault

Aside from the obvious physical ailments resulting from rape and abuse, pain can take silent or hidden forms often resulting in depression or self-injury. Another effect of rape can be post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

1. Physical Symptoms:

  • Hyper vigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Difficultly sleeping
  • Difficulty with concentration or memory
  • Mood irritability-especially anger and depression

2. Intrusive Symptoms:

  • Recurring distressing recollections (thoughts, memories, flashbacks, dreams, and nightmares).
  • Physical or psychological distress at an event that symbolizes the trauma.
  • Grief or survivor guilt.

3. Avoidant Symptoms:

  • Avoiding specific thoughts, feelings, activities, or situation
  • Diminished interest in significant activities
  • Restricted range of emotions (numbness)

4. Depression

5. Self Injury

Sexual Abuse

Approximately one in six boys is sexually abused before age 16.

If you lived in medieval France and you were physically abuse by your wife, you were forced to wear a dress and ride on a donkey backwards through the town. Can you imagine the shame and embarrassment of having to do that? It is similar to the shame that abused men are faced with today. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

There are many reasons that men do not report abuse. Here are a few of the more common ones:

  • Less men report abuse. They are ashamed to report being abused by women.
  • Health care and law enforcement professionals are more likely to accept alternative explanations of bruises and other signs of injury from a man.
  • Our justice system sometimes takes the word of the woman above the word of the man. It is just more believable that the aggressor was the man, not the woman.
  • Men will tolerate more pain than women. They are more likely to “grin and bear it.” And again, many are ashamed to seek medical help.
  • Unless a woman uses a weapon (and many do), a woman usually does not have the strength of a man.

Men often use the same excuses as a woman does for staying with a loved one that abuses them. “It’ll stop when, they are better adjusted…her job is not so frustrating…when the children get more responsible…etc…etc…etc.” THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR BEING ABUSED!!!