Ruam Chuay / 16 days  / 3 myths and 5 forms: What is intimate partner violence?
Today, let's challenge the myths surrounding intimate partner violence

3 myths and 5 forms: What is intimate partner violence?

Content warning: In this post, we describe 5 different forms of intimate partner violence.

To address or eliminate a problem, we have to understand it first. Here are 3 myths and 5 types of intimate partner violence

The Bangkok Post reported nearly 1 of 2 women experience some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their partners. While the World Health Organization found 35% of women worldwide experience some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

35% of women experience some form of intimate partner violence worldwide. In South East Asia, it's 37.7% according to the world health organization

Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or family background, anyone can be affected by this type of violence. Sometimes, it’s difficult to recognize, since it comes in many different forms. It’s important to note, while everyone’s experience is unique, there are common ways to identify this type of violence.

3 Myths about Intimate Partner Violence

Before diving into the different forms of violence, let’s challenge the myths surrounding intimate partner violence.

Myth 1: You can always see scars

We often think of violence as someone hitting or beating another person. While physical violence is one form of abuse, it is not the only form of abuse. As we’ll explain below, this means you can’t always physically see if someone is being abused.

Myth 2: Someone you love or know can’t abuse you  

Another common thought is that sexual violence happens randomly by an aggressive stranger. While this might happen, more commonly violence occurs in intimate relationships or by someone the survivor of the victim knows.

The Men and Women’s Progressive Movement Foundation and the Thai Health Foundation’s 2016 survey as cited by the Bangkok Post, revealed 45% of men in Thailand have admitted to physically hurting their girlfriends or spouses.

Myth 3: The victim or survivor did something to cause the abuse  

No one asks for it. Sometimes when a survivor, especially women, come forward to share that they have been abused they are faced with lots of questions. Some of these questions might be, “what were you wearing?” or “what did you do to make them so angry?” or “were you drunk?”

These questions try to put the blame on the person who has been abused. When in fact any form of violence that took place is solely on the abuser. This concept is called “victim-blaming.” It’s never your fault if you have experienced some form of violence.

Now that we’re on the same page, we can break down the different forms of abuse that might occur.

5 Forms of Violence  

Someone who is abusing another person may be doing it as a way to exert their power or control over their victim or to try and control them in some way.

Abuse can happen in any type of relationship whether it’s an intimate relationship, live-in partnership, working relationship, family relationships, between parents, and children, or even professional working relationships.

Here are 5 common types of abuse that anyone can experience and how to recognize it.  

1. Physical Abuse  

This type of abuse happens when physical force is used to harm a person. Whether it is to get them to do something or when they aren’t behaving in a way that the abuser wants them to. Physical abuse usually begins with small actions such a pinch, or a slap, then gradually gets more intense over time.

How you might recognize it
Slapping, hitting, punching, scratching, pushing, shoving

2. Verbal Abuse  

Verbal abuse takes place when someone uses their words to hurt another person. This might be criticizing a person’s intelligence, ability, body type, work, among many other things. Statements like this usually make a person feel small, humiliate them, or bring them down.

How you might recognize it
Insults, name-calling, yelling

Topology of Interpersonal Violence showing different modes of violence as described by the world health organization

A topology of violence by the World Health Organization

3. Psychological or Emotional Abuse

This type of abuse usually attempts to bring down the independence, self-esteem, or self-worth of the person being abused. The abuser will use statements or actions to try to blame an abuser for something, manipulate them, intimidate them, or limit their ability to act on their own. Sometimes, this type of abuse can feel someone leaving trapped in a situation that is uncomfortable or painful. Often feeling scared, powerless, anxious, or afraid of their abuser.

How you might recognize it
Threats, manipulative statements, statements that cause guilt, intimidation, isolation

4. Sexual Abuse  

Sexual abuse occurs when one person forces another person to participate in sexual activity or makes unwanted advances of a sexual nature onto another person. This can be any type of sexual activity from touching, kissing, hugging, oral sex, or penetrative sex. When this type sexual violence occurs it can be identified usually as sexual assault, or rape. But sexual abuse can also take the form of unwanted sexually charged comments which is usually defined as sexual harassment.

How you might recognize it
Inappropriate touching or sexual contact, forced sexual activity of any kind,  unwanted sexual comments, catcalling

5. Economic or Financial Abuse 

This type of abuse happens when an abuser uses money to control someone. This might be preventing someone from using money to force them to do something they do not want to do. This might be stopping someone from working to make their own money or stealing from someone. Financial abuse takes place when someone uses money as a way to control another person or to make someone dependent on their support.

How you might recognize it
Withholding money or belongings from victims, preventing someone from becoming independent

Violence is a complex, multilayered issue  

Intimate partner violence is complicated. Often times, when abuse is taking place multiple forms of abuse can be used at the same time. This can make it hard to cope or identify what types of abuse are taking place.

This type of control can cause an immense amount of emotional distress on anyone confronted with it. Unfortunately, what it comes down to is someone who is abusing another person is trying to control their behavior in one way or another.

Just a reminder, if you or someone you know is experiencing some form of violence, consider getting care or support from someone who is trained to help you. In the form of therapy, counseling, medical attention, trauma specialist. 

Ruam Chuay

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