When I got together with fellow black women feminists, we talked about the ways people tend to think about domestic violence (DV). As one attendee stated, “Obviously if someone came at you with a bat on the first date, you would know right away they are someone to avoid.” The reality is, abusers are manipulative people. They tend to take their time (sometimes years) grooming their victims before they ever physically assault them. If it even goes that far.
The idea that all abuse is extreme, is what I call the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome. You know how in lifetime movies they tend to over dramatize everything. Not to say that it isn’t true for many women, but a lot of abuse tends to be more subtle/calculated. Because of the “Lifetime Movie” syndrome, many people have bought into the idea that domestic violence is only “real” if a woman has visible scars.
In her article, “Domestic Violence is Not Just Physical,” Gloria Malone writes about the complexity of DV in women’s lives. She argues that the conversations on DV has been limiting and harmful to women. “[However] these conversations are very narrow. They focus primarily on direct physical violence through a form of direct impact. Focusing the conversation on this very narrow impression of what DV/IPV is omits the different forms that DV/IPV can take which include but are not limited to emotional, economic, psychological, and sexual abuse. These forms of abuse are just as violent, hurtful, difficult to leave, and can be precursors to possible physical violence.” http://mommynoire.com/270415/domestic-violence-just-physical/
When you look at the range of abusive tactics, the majority of women have been in some type of controlling relationship. Even if the incident happened one time. There is the belief that domestic violence is a daily occurrence. If a woman has been harmed just one time, that is domestic violence.
Malone made this point with K. Michelle, a singer who has talked about abuse she has suffered. “Recently Michelle took to her Instagram account to explain that although Memphitz did not directly punch her that she too is a survivor of domestic violence… Michelle states “I was not punched in the isolated assault and never claimed to be. But what I was, was drug across the room and smothered with a towel, loosing conscience to the point of a black out[…]and having to fight my way out the room screaming for help. I almost lost my life.” http://mommynoire.com/270415/domestic-violence-just-physical/
- Physical abuse such as slapping, kicking, hitting, shoving, or other physical force.
- Sexual abuse including rape, sexual assault, forced prostitution, or interfering with birth control.
- Emotional abuse such as shouting, name-calling, humiliation, constant criticism, or harming the victim’s relationship with her or his children.
- Psychological abuse including threats to harm the victims’ family, friends, children, co-workers, or pets, isolation, mind games, destruction of victims’ property, or stalking.
- Economic abuse such as controlling the victim’s money, withholding money for basic needs, interfering with school or job, or damaging the victim’s credit.