Abuse Isn’t Just Physical


I have a friend who asked me if she thought her neighbor might be being abused.  “She never leaves the house, there are security cameras everywhere.  It seems like her kids aren’t allowed to play with anybody.  And come to think of it, I hear him yelling alot. Do you think anything is going on?”

Isolating is the most important tactic for an abuser. Less obvious isolation tactics are telling them that their friends and family are bad for them.  Telling them that they are better off being at home doing the work that is needed…One tactic a man I know uses is he makes the house a pig sty and doesn’t take care of the kids so she feels like she can never leave. Another popular tactic is rushing your wife/partner when they are outside the house with frequent cell phone calls about “where are you?!”

Abuse isn’t always physical.  Sometimes, it is being in a relationship with someone who is sarcastic and hostile about one’s appearance.  Sometimes, abuse is how someone is discounted in front of friends or laughed at. Sometimes, abuse is withholding support or trying to make somebody feel bad about stuff they shouldn’t feel bad about.  It is complex.  But, if you are feeling abused in a relationship, then you probably are.


There are all kinds of ways partners can abuse each other.  I like people to look at the power and control wheel and see if any of those manipulation tactics hold true in their relationship.

5 Things You Need To Know About Domestic Violence

Washington D.C. ,1994

I remember hearing hits, screams, and crying coming from an apartment below me when I was a graduate student living in Washington, D.C. I called the police and ran to the apartment I had been hearing the screams from.

A man opened the door in a white, sleeveless, undershirt that I have heard jokingly referred to as a wife beater shirt (would you believe it?) He was sweating heavily and breathing hard as if in the middle of a workout.  Except, he had on dirty khakis and the punching bag was clearly human.

Being a naive, idealistic, young social worker, I accused him of hurting someone and I demanded for him to show me his family members so I could see if they were alright.  He laughed in my face.  Despite calling the cops several times, nobody showed up.  I am sure his family got the message loud and clear that they were on their own with that monster. That sucks.

Here are some important statistics to know or be reminded of:

1. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women (more than car accidents, muggings, rape, etc. combined)

2. More than 3 women a day are murdered by husbands or boyfriends.

3. 1 in 5 teenagers are threatened with physical violence when dating.

4. 63% of teens imprisoned between 11-30 are there for killing mother’s boyfriend/partner who was assaulting her.  These children will probably go on to assault their partners due to violence they have seen.

5. Battering occurs in all racial and socioeconomic groups.  Men are victims too. It is definitely happening in your neighborhood or to someone you know.

GAG Girls: Victims of domestic violence are all around us.  Contact your local domestic violence agency for more information if you have become aware of it happening with someone you know. Call the police and get help if it is happening right by you. It was dumb of me to get involved so quickly without support and back-up.  Get involved but don’t sacrifice your own safety too.  That helps nobody!