Over the weekend I caught up with an old friend. She recently returned home after her marriage broke down and we reconnected on Facebook. Reading the things she shared on Facebook and speaking with her again made me realize why we connected to begin with. She’s my kind of gal – smart, well spoken, ambitious, funny, has a good head on her shoulders and she knows how to have fun!
As we shared pieces of our life and caught up on almost ten years, I realized how many of us women share stories of abuse. I know the stats that say 1 in every 4 (or 6 depending on the source) women have been abused – physically, sexually or verbally. Grim, huh? After conversing with her and explaining the many ways violence against women can manifest itself, it finally dawned on her, years after the relationship had ended, that it was an abusive one.
Too often we see abusive relationships, especially physically abusive ones, as those where the women gets beaten on a regular basis. The fact that he split her lips once and kicked her off the bed twice was not seen as a physical assault because these incidences only occurred twice in the course of a seven year marriage. She knew there was financial abuse and emotional abuse but never once did she consider it to be physically abusive.
In speaking with another friend over brunch earlier last week she too also mentioned some of the struggles she faced in her relationship. While there was no physical abuse there were clear signs of economic abuse and emotional abuse. It hurts to see so many women with great talents and gifts on the receiving end of abuse from the people they would have committed their hearts to. It hurts also to see the incredible sense of despair and guilt that often accompanies abuse.
Below you will find some of the main types of abuse that women face. I did not come up with the list. The original source is credited here and I’ve used their points because they’ve done a good job covering the main types of abuse women face.
- Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury
example: grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, biting, arm-twisting, kicking, punching, hitting with blunt objects, stabbing, shootingWithholding access to resources necessary to maintain health example: medication, medical care, wheelchair, food or fluids, sleep, hygienic assistance Forcing alcohol or other drug use
Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent
example: marital rape, acquaintance rape, forced sex after physical beating, attacks on the sexual parts of the body, forced prostitution, fondling, sodomy, sex with othersAttempting to undermine the victim’ sexuality
example: treating him/her in a sexually derogatory manner, criticizing sexual performance and desirability, accusations of infidelity, withholding sex
Instilling or attempting to instill fear
example: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, victim, and/or others, threatening to harm and/or kidnap children, menacing, blackmail, harassment, destruction of pets and property, mind games, stalking, isolating or attempting to isolate victim from friends, family, school, and/or work example: withholding access to phone and/or transportation, undermining victim’s personal relationships, harassing others, constant “checking up,” constant accompaniment, use of unfounded accusations, forced imprisonment
Undermining or attempting to undermine victim sense of worth
example: constant criticism, belittling victim’s abilities and competency, name-calling, insults, put-downs, silent treatment, manipulating victim’s feelings and emotions to induce guilt, subverting a partner’s relationship with the children, repeatedly making and breaking promises
Making or attempting to make the victim financially dependent
example: maintaining total control over financial resources including victim’s earned income or resources received through public assistance or social security, withholding money and/or access to money, forbidding attendance at school, forbidding employment, on-the-job harassment, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent, forced welfare fraud, withholding information about family running up bills for which the victim is responsible for payment.
Please monitor this space. I’ll be sharing more about a dialogue I’ll be facilitating on the topic of violence against women later this month.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.