According to the national coalition against domestic violence, 12.7 million people, both Men as women, are abused by a spouse or partner each year. However, abuse is often ignored or minimized, particularly if the abuse is more emotional than physical. Admitting that there is a problem is the first step to being safe and getting help.
When people hear the terms domestic violence or spousal abuse, physical abuse is usually what they imagine. According to the US and the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, physical abuse is any type of violence that has the potential to cause an injury. This includes actions such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping and pushing. They can also include actions such as choking, burning and throwing things. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have suffered physical abuse in a relationship.
While sex and physical intimacy are expected parts of a committed marriage or relationship, they can also be used aggressively within these relationships as a form of abuse. The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence defines sexual abuse or marital rape as a type of violence that uses sexual acts to hurt, humiliate or demean the other person. This includes forcing another person to have sex or deliberately inflict pain during sex.
Threats and emotional abuse
Emotional abuse is any action that embarrasses, humiliates, ridicules, or degrades another person. According to psychotherapist Jeanne Segal, writing for the Helpguide website, emotional abuse is used to make victims feel bad about themselves and control them. This type of abuse can include insults, intimidation and control behaviors. It can also include threats of physical violence or abandonment. Although victims often minimize this type of abuse, it can be equally harmful.
How to get help
Although many people who are abused by their spouses deny or minimize abuse, it is important for their physical and mental health that they seek help. Many abusers make promises not to hurt their victim, but the problem is rarely easy to fix. It is essential that victims of abuse find a trusted person to come for help. Many cities have shelters or local lines that can be found in the phone book or online looking for domestic violence or women's shelters.