Domestic violence is a widespread problem across the nation. The Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately 36% of women and 34% of women in the United States have been harmed by an intimate partner. In Illinois, those numbers are even higher for women at 42%, equating to 2 million women.
It’s crucial to recognize domestic violence in all forms and know what to do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship.
Types of Domestic Violence
Did you know there are five types of domestic violence? There’s a common misconception that it’s only domestic violence if there is physical harm, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Misunderstandings like this one can be dangerous for victims who experience emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse.
Knowing the information below can help save yourself or someone you love from their abusive relationship.
Physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence. It occurs when someone uses physical force against the victim. Common examples include punching, kicking, stabbing, shooting, choking, or slapping. Physical abuse may look like bruises, scars, broken bones, and scratches. These cases are treated very seriously, and victims are likely to receive an order of protection against the offender.
Emotional abuse involves attempts at undermining or destroying a victim’s self-worth by continually insulting, humiliating, or criticizing them. Examples include constant criticism, belittling, name-calling, "the silent treatment," manipulation, gaslighting, guilt-tripping, and sabotaging a partner’s relationship with their children.
This kind of abuse can be hard for those who have not experienced it to understand since it often appears in unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to prove in courts and is not enough on its own to bring domestic violence action.
Another form of domestic violence is sexual abuse. It is both the actual coercion and the attempt to coerce sexual contact from the victim without their consent. It includes sexual assault, rape, harassment, unwelcoming touching, forced prostitution, and other demeaning behavior. Many victims do not realize they have been sexually abused because it is broadly interpreted.
One of the least apparent forms of domestic violence is economic abuse. It occurs when a perpetrator makes or attempts to make the victim financially dependent on them, acting as another form of control. It is very common among families with joint accounts or shared assets. When victims are completely reliant on their partner for money, they are at the mercy of their abusive partner. Economic abuse can include maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding money or access to money, forbidding school attendance, forbidding employment, harassment at work, tracking spending, and even forced welfare fraud.
Psychological abuse is defined as "instilling or attempting to instill fear in another person." Some forms of psychological abuse include intimidation, threatening physical harm, threatening to harm or kidnap children, blackmail, harassment, threatening to damage property, and stalking. If a person wanted to bring domestic violence action, they generally need to show persistent and significant behavior from the abuser. Since the effects of psychological abuse are often not as outwardly apparent, psychological abuse can be harder to prove in court, similar to emotional abuse.
Seeking Safety and Getting Help in Illinois
If you have suffered abuse or you have been threatened with abuse, fearing for your safety is grounds for an order of protection. Restraining orders will prevent the abuser from contacting you, approaching you, living with you, owning a gun, and contacting children you share.
To obtain a protection order, you should go to the circuit court where you live and request the appropriate paperwork. There are three types of protective orders: emergency order of protection, interim order of protection, and plenary order of protection. We strongly recommend obtaining a lawyer, especially if your abuser has one. We know how difficult these cases are, and our attorneys routinely assist abuse victims with skill and sensitivity.