Domestic Abuse Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse and violence is far more common than most anyone would or could imagine. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will suffer from some form of domestic abuse and/or violence.  One of the more common features is an imbalance of power and control. However, neither those who experience domestic violence nor the partners who abuse them fall into any distinct categories, an abuser can be of any age, ethnicity, income level, or level of education.

The following are a few examples of situations that are common among people who experience domestic violence. It is important to understand that anyone can be abused.

Individuals at risk:
– Planning to leave or has recently left an abusive relationship
– Previously in an abusive relationship
– Poverty or poor living situations
– Unemployed
– Physical or mental disability
– Recently separated or divorced
– Isolated socially from family and friends
– Abused as a child
– Witnessed domestic violence as a child
– Pregnancy, especially if unplanned
– Younger than 30 years
– Stalked by a partner
– Heavy alcohol and drug use
– Depression
– Anger and hostility
– Antisocial personality traits
– Borderline personality traits
– Prior history of being physically abusive
– Having few friends and being isolated from other people

Please know that this is by no means an exhaustive listing. Some suffering from domestic abuse and violence may not fall in to or show characteristics of any of these and they may fall under all of them.

There are also psychological signs and symptoms to look for:
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of domestic violence begins by observing the behavior of both the abuser and the person being abused.

The abuser may appear overly controlling or coercive, attempting to answer all questions for the victim or isolating him (yes, men can be victims of domestic abuse as well) or her from others.

Other psychological signs of domestic violence range from:
– anxiety
– depression
– chronic fatigue
– suicidal tendencies
– battered woman syndrome (a syndrome similar to the post-traumatic stress disorder seen in people threatened with death or serious injury in extremely stressful situations, such as war).

Substance abuse is also more common in the person enduring domestic violence than in the general adult population.

The abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs may happen as a result of the violent relationship rather than being the cause of the violence.

Physical signs and symptoms:
Domestic violence assault may lead to specific injury.  These injury types and patterns may result from things other than domestic violence but should raise suspicion of abuse when present.

Injury types seen more commonly in domestic-violence injuries than in injuries caused by other means are these:
– Tympanic membrane (eardrum) rupture
– Rectal or genital injury
– Facial scrapes, bruises, cuts, or fractures
– Neck scrapes or bruises
– Abdominal cuts or bruises
– Tooth loose or broken
– Bilateral injuries: Injuries involving both sides of the body, usually the arms and legs

Defensive posture injuries:

These injuries are to the parts of the body used by the woman to fend off an attack:

– The small finger side of the forearm or the palms when used to block blows to the head and chest
– The bottoms of the feet when used to kick away an assailant
– The back, legs, buttocks, and back of the head when the woman is crouched on the floor

Injuries inconsistent with the explanation given:
The abused may have inconsistent stories regarding how the occurred.  These types of injuries are most often found should the abused seek medical attention. Another tell-tale sign is when the mechanism of injury reported would not produce the signs of injury found on physical examination.
Injuries in various stages of healing:
Signs of both recent and old injuries may represent a history of ongoing abuse.
Delay in seeking medical attention for injuries may indicate either the victim’s reluctance to involve doctors or his or her inability to leave home to seek needed care.

The abusers also share some common characteristics, it is important to note that abusers choose violence to get what they want in a relationship or to compensate for any numbers if issues that the abuser may be facing.

Again, I want to stress that these risk factors may point to an increased likelihood of violence in a relationship, but the person is not destined to become violent because of the presence of any of these listed risk factors.  Violence is never justifiable simply because it happened while the abuser was in a “blind rage” a drug or alcohol induced imbalance, etc…

The following factors may indicate an increased likelihood that a person may choose violence:

– Abuser risk factors:
– Abuses alcohol or drugs
– Witnessed abuse as a child
– Was a victim of abuse as a child
– Abused former partners
– Unemployed or underemployed
– Abuses pets

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse please seek immediate help! Inflicting harm on another, (domestic abuse and violence) is illegal!  Call 911 and report an abuser! Then please contact the Life After Project and let us help you help yourself to a creating a positive and productive life after!

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