Recognizing domestic abuse

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, which is a time for celebrating love and relationships.

However, every relationship is not the perfect balance of trust, love, understanding and respect.

In fact, domestic violence unfortunately has been prominent in Americans’ lives for as long as Valentine’s Day.

In the United States, on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner according to the abusive relationships hotline.

Abusive relationships are not always obvious to the person being abused, but sometimes outsiders are able to tell if something is not quite right in a relationship.

Abusive relationships are not limited to physical abuse. An abusive relationship can be physical, emotional or both.

To those who have never been in an abusive relationship, it seems strange that people could allow themselves to get caught up in an unhealthy relationship where they are not given the love and respect they deserve.

Many reasons exist for someone choosing to remain in an abusive relationship for an extended amount of time.

Someone could be staying in an unhealthy relationship because he or she does not know what a healthy one looks like.

The abused individual may not realize anything is wrong with the relationship and believe the abuse is normal.

Another common reason people stay in abusive relationships is because they are embarrassed.

They could be embarrassed that they allowed themselves to be caught up in the situation or by the actions committed by their significant other.

According to counselingcenter.illinois.edu, verbal abuse can be equally harmful for someone’s emotional state.

Emotional abuse can wear down a person’s mind to the point where he or she begins to believe anything the abuser tells them.

Emotional abuse can be anything from a partner insulting physical appearance to threatening to commit suicide if broken up with.

Victims of emotional abuse can begin to have self-esteem problems and believe themselves unworthy of love or incapable of finding a relationship better than the one they are currently in.

This type of abuse can be used as a way to manipulate someone into staying in a relationship.

There are many ways to spot a relationship with an abuser.

According to helpguide.org, if a person is constantly blaming his or her significant other for their emotions, he or she could be trying to place his or her own emotions and actions in the hands of someone else to avoid responsibility for them.

Sudden mood swings can be another sign someone is possibly inflicting abuse.

If a person is constantly bouncing between being happy to sad to angry, his or her emotions are unstable and could lead to rash decisions.

Strict gender roles do not have a part in a healthy relationship.

No individual in the relationship, regardless of gender, should be expected to be subservient or obedient.

The same can be said for the opposite situation – no partner in a relationship should be expected to be the dominant one who addresses all the problems.

If you are dating someone who physically harms or attempts to harm you, it is abuse.

He or she may try to tell you it will never happen again or it was an accident, but no one deserves to be in a relationship where they are not respected physically and emotionally.

The victims of abusive relationships may not know they are victims or that help is available.

In a healthy relationship, you would never be intentionally physically or emotionally hurt.

Communication, trust and respect are the key components for any relationship.

For those who are seeking help or know someone who is need of help, you can contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) on campus or go to the hotline for abusive relationships at www.thehotline.org.