Domestic violence has been dramatized in everything from after-school specials to TV movies. But what does it look like in real life?
Kaylee Myers, resource coordinator of the Hoke County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center, filled us in. Here are the signs to watch out for in your own relationships or those of your loved ones.
Your Partner is “Old Fashioned.”
Your partner may have antiquated or stereotypical beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships. If these beliefs mean your partner insists on opening doors for you or cooking four-course meals every night, fine. But if your partner’s adherence to gender roles means you do certain things and refrain from doing others, then it’s a problem. Your partner’s personal beliefs should not inhibit your personal growth.
They Work Hard to “Protect” You.
You should always feel safe with your partner. But if your partner feels that you wouldn’t be safe without them, that’s a red flag. Do they insist on copies of your work and/or school schedule? Insist on taking you to both or either? Call multiple times to check in on you during your shift? Want to see what you’re wearing before you leave the house? Manage the household finances because they want to “save you” from the task? Even if you find that “protective” behavior endearing, know that it comes from a place of a need for control.
Your partner’s need for control has the potential to take over everything in your life. If it does, the Hoke County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center can help with everything from clothing and household needs to emergency financial assistance.
They Treat Sex as a Weapon.
Is your partner controlling in the bedroom? That’s only OK if you like it. If your partner makes you feel like sex is something you owe them, dictates how it goes down or refuses to honor your requests for using birth control or protection, that’s unacceptable. Sex, and everything that happens before, during and after, should be an enjoyable experience for both parties.
You Feel Like You “Owe” Them.
Do you think that everything bad that happens in the relationship is your fault? Ask yourself if your partner is contributing to that feeling. Does your partner start fights, often over wild accusations that seem to come out of nowhere? Do those fights end with you feeling confused and guilty, or like you “owe” your partner, emotionally or physically? That feeling is not part of a healthy relationship.
They Make You Believe That You’re Inferior.
Are you always doing stupid things? Is your partner smarter, faster, quicker, better looking and more lovable than you? If you feel that all the above is true, it’s likely because your partner made you feel that way. Your partner should build you up, not tear you down.
With professional counseling and support groups for women, children and other affected parties, the free programs at the Hoke County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center can help you work through these feelings and regain a healthy sense of self-esteem.
You Walk on Eggshells Around Them.
Living with a ticking time bomb is no way to live — and you shouldn’t live in fear of an explosion that threatens your life, or the lives of your children and pets. Your partner should give you the freedom and room you need to be yourself, and respect you enough to solve any issues that arise in an appropriate manner.
If you’re experiencing physical violence or threats, the volunteers and staff at the Hoke County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center are here for everything from medical visits to ongoing assistance with legal issues; from obtaining protective orders and victim’s compensation to helping with address confidentiality.
“We need to end this ‘what happens in the house, stays in the house’ era,” says victim advocate Trina Mason. “It’s dangerous and it has been what has kept things like domestic violence and sexual assault going. We need to be vocal. No more hiding.”
Though based in Raeford, the Hoke County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Center sees many clients from Moore who are afraid of being recognized in their home county. All of its services are free, voluntary and confidential, regardless of residency.