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Keeping You Safe: Warning signs, spotting domestic abuse

Identifying types of domestic violence
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:47 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Domestic violence can happen anywhere, anytime and it happens a lot.

An average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by their partner according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

“There is a high stigma related to discussing domestic and dating violence. People are afraid to share. It’s very personal, it’s a very sensitive topic,” said Chris Donevant-Haines, associate director of the LiveWell office at Coastal Carolina University.

Donevant-Haines said she’s trying to change that stigma by addressing the types of domestic violence.

Domestic violence includes physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual and reproductive abuse. Reproductive abuse is when a person has limited access to medical care. The list goes on.

“Have you ever heard the term gaslighting? Gaslighting is when the abusive partner may be trying to make the victim or abused partner think that this isn’t really happening,” said Donevant-Haines. “That you’re making this up, or you’re lying about this. So, trying to make that victim feel like they’re the ones who are doing something wrong.”

She said pay attention to a person’s behavior - nothing is too small to note.

“In an early stage of a relationship, often signs like jealousy or a partner who seems to be controlling in some way,” Donevant-Haines said. “Maybe they’re controlling who you speak with. They are asking for passwords to your cellphone account. They’re monitoring who you are in communication with. Even things like how you wear your hair or what you wear.”

It’s also important to learn the cycles of domestic violence. Donevant-Haines said not only does the cycle become more frequent, it becomes more dangerous.

“One of the cycles of violence involves where there may be an incident where there’s an explosion, some kind of violent outburst, whether it’s emotional abuse or physical violence. After that, often comes this period of apologies and something that’s known as the honeymoon phase where it’s going to be okay. The abuser promises to get help, seek counseling, therapy, go to church. But, then there’s that rebuilding phase. So, that cycle starts to cycle back up toward the pressure and it’s really just building up to another explosion,” she said.

Both men and women experience domestic violence and it’s not always easy to walk away Donevant-Haines said. A lot of people stay in toxic relationships due to financial struggles, not wanting to leave with their children or they’re still in love, she added.

“Sometimes, the victim of the abuse feels like their partner will change. That there is deep love there and that is something that is really hard to negotiate and to navigate through,” said Donevant-Haines.

If you’re experiencing domestic violence, talk to a family member or someone you trust. You can also call police and ask to speak with a victim advocate.

“Anything that we can do by discussing it, talking about resources and providing encouragement to say something if something’s going on, and just reach out for help,” said Donevant-Haines.

She also stressed about parents talking to their children about healthy relationships because violence will be less likely to occur.

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