Most of us believe that we know how to easily identify a victim of domestic abuse, or abusive behaviors within a relationship. I mean, it's obvious when a woman's face is bruised and she is mousy and shies away from contact, right?
In fact, that couldn't be further from the truth. Domestic violence, while it can look like the battered woman with the bruised face, rarely presents so obviously. There are several types of domestic abuse, and the generally boil down to three main components, which make up one overarching goal. The components are intimidation, humiliation, and violence, and are all tools an abuser uses to reach his (or her - women can, in rare cases, be abusers, too) main goal - CONTROL.
There are also several types of domestic abuse. The one with which we are all most familiar is the physical abuse typical of an after school special, or some other fable for teenage consumption. This may be the most obvious form of abuse, but, perhaps specifically because it's so obvious, is unlikely to be the most common. Physical abusers, or batterers, use physical force to intimidate, batter, hurt, and injure their partners, children, parents, or other dependents. Slapping, punching, kicking, shoving, pinching, burning, biting, restraining, choking, shaking, grabbing, forcing drug or alcohol use, and any use of a weapon would be considered physical abuse. The victims may or may not need to seek medical assistance, and often don't seek it out when they need it, from fear of retaliation if they "get their partner in trouble."
Sometimes, with less cautious or scheming abusers, you will see victims bearing physical signs of abuse: finger-shaped bruises on their wrists or arms, bruises, cuts, or scrapes on their face, limping, or seeming to baby a limb, or carrying themselves stiffly and with great care, as one would after a vehicle accident. Often, though, the signs are much better hidden, because nearly every abuser enlists their victim's aid in covering up the abuse, under threats of more abuse, different kinds of abuse, worse abuse, or murder. A woman is more likely to be murdered by a partner - or former partner - than by any other person.
Over four thousand women each year die because of domestic violence.