In the summer, domestic violence tends to grow among residents and visitors alike. Jodi Yuhasey, Director of the Cook County Violence Prevention Center said this past July saw a spike in abuse and this gives her reason to look again at what constitutes the various forms of abuse and violence.
Jodi: When we think of violence and domestic violence, we often think of that slap, that punch, the hit and it’s so much more than that.
Abuse of any kind is an intentional act used to gain power and control over another person. According to Yuhasey, there are several tactics and behaviors abusers use to maintain control over the partners in their relationships.
Jodi: One is using emotional abuse and that could be putting someone down, making them feel bad about herself or himself, the name-calling, humiliating someone or making them feel guilty for their feelings; using isolation, controlling what that person does, who they see, who they talk with, monitoring every movement; limiting outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions. You know, that could be, “I love you so much, I want you to be with me, not with someone else.”
Yuhasey said another tactic is to deny the abuse ever happened. In this case, the abuse is made light of, not taken seriously, even shifting the blame back on the victim. If physical violence was used, minimizing the impact or blaming the victim for causing it in the first place. Kids and money are also power techniques.
Jodi: If couples have children, using the children. “You’re a bad parent. If you leave, I’ll report you to human services. I’ll get the kids.” If parents are separated, using visitation as an opportunity to harass the other person or, again, take the kids away. Using economic abuse; preventing someone from getting or keeping a job, and up here that can be real tough. Or, bothering them so much at the job that a supervisor or boss needs to take an action. Having one partner control all the money and the other one having to ask for an allowance and not letting someone know how the money is being spent, that it’s all a secret.
Sometimes men in particular play the master-servant role, making all the big decisions. This tactic can lead to more threatening actions, including the “you better behave look.”
Jodi: It could be, “if you do this, I will hurt you.” If it has reached a point where law enforcement has ever been involved, saying, “you need to drop the charges.” Using intimidation; again, looks, actions, gestures, and we all know the look. All of us growing up—and this has nothing to do with abuse—but, we all remember being a child and getting the look from mom and dad that we knew to behave. Multiply that, you know, a hundred-fold.
Yuhasey said no relationship works 100 percent of the time.
Jodi: All of us in relationships sometimes get angry; sometimes say words that we wish we hadn’t said. But again, back to that power and control and that pattern of behavior to keep that power and control all the time.
She said there are a few simple things friends and family can do to help someone in an abusive relationship.
Jodi: We live in a society where we want to fix. The first one is listen. That is one of the best gifts you can ever give someone. Encourage them to talk about whatever they want to talk about and that what they’re saying to you will be safe and will be confidential. To believe them; often times if folks are living with abuse, again, if it’s physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse; they’re sure that if they have the courage to tell someone, they’re not going to be believed. Don’t deny that the abuse if happening, and don’t judge them. Just listen and show that you care. Respect them—show you’re friend or your family member that you respect their ability to handle the situation; that you’re glad that they came to talk to you, but you’re not going to tell them what to do.
She particularly emphasized not giving advice, difficult as that might be at the time. It’s best to help a friend reach their own decisions and let them know they’re not to blame for the abuse. She said it’s good to discuss the abused personal safety, encourage them to seek help, but do not try to fix it by talking to the abusing partner. Finally, stay a friend.
Jodi: Keep in contact with them; let them know that you appreciate them talking with you on that day and anytime in the future that they need to talk, that you’ll always be there to listen and to not judge them.