One of the biggest reports during the pandemic period (apart from a huge increase in teenage pregnancies) was an increase in reports of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is quite common, in fact, a UN report revealed that about 40.7 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence caused by their partner in their lifetime.
Additionally, domestic abuse can happen in many different ways. Though the most common kind is physical abuse, there’s an increase in emotional, financial, and mental abuse in recent years. Unfortunately, most victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence due to fear of stigma or not knowing what to do.
Here are some things to do if you’re a victim of domestic abuse.
1.Take Legal Action
You should always report domestic abuse no matter how “minor” it seems especially when it’s physical. The sooner you report it and take legal action, the sooner you’ll be able to prevent things from escalating. It’s also possible to take legal action for emotional, financial, and mental abuse as well. You can consult a lawyer on which steps you can take when you experience any kind of domestic abuse.
2. Talk To Someone You Trust
Most domestic abuse victims are scared to speak out as it may lead to more abuse from their partner. As such, it’s important to have someone you can confide in who will not judge your situation. You can turn to a family member or friend. However, if you don’t have anyone close to talk to, you can call a hotline number or seek refuge at various institutions that offer support for abuse victims.
3. Keep Evidence
Apart from victim shaming, most domestic abuse victims don’t report their cases because of the doubt cast against them. However, with the age of technology, it’s easier to gather evidence that you can use to prove your claims. Take pictures, record conversations, and keep the receipts of every abuse incident. This shouldn’t, however, be at the expense of your safety.
4. Don’t Blame Yourself
The abuser may make you feel like you did something to warrant the abuse. However, this is a manipulation tactic known as gaslighting. By guilt-tripping you, they ensure that they can continue with the abuse without fear of any consequences. You should never take ownership of any abusive behaviour whether you think that you’ve done something wrong or not. There are healthier ways to solve issues in a relationship instead of being abusive.
5. Seek Treatment/ Counselling
Domestic abuse can have a significant impact on the victim’s physical and mental wellbeing. If it’s physical abuse, you should first seek medical help to treat any injuries and ensure there are no other internal problems. Additionally, it’s also important to seek counseling. Most hospitals that admit domestic abuse victims also offer free counseling sessions for them.
Never stay in an abusive relationship whether it happens on one or numerous occasions. However, leaving an abusive relationship is never easy since there’s always the risk that they might become even more violent when they find out about your plans. It’s important to have an escape plan before leaving. Ensure you have all your important documents and that you can stay somewhere where your abusive partner cannot locate you. Most importantly, don’t alert your abuser that you’re leaving.
7. Know Your Worth
This experience should not make you think any lower of yourself. Instead, it should show you how strong you are and help rebuild your self-confidence. Reconnect with your friends and family who can offer care and support. You can also try to pick up a hobby that will help you have a positive mindset and keep you busy.