Domestic abuse is a problem in many societies. The term itself covers a broad sense of violence. The acts of violence can be emotional, psychological, sexual, or even physical. Cases of domestic violence may occur between different members of a family. It can happen between adults, between a child and an adult, or between the elderly and adults.
Anyone going through domestic violence needs help. You may never know when the violence may escalate to dangerous levels and possibly claim lives. Counselors are the most suitable professionals to identify cases of domestic violence. These professionals can pick up telltale signs that someone is experiencing domestic violence. If they can identify the victims, they can work on helping them. If the case before them is too violent, they may involve the police. Here’s how counselors can pick up on domestic violence:
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Obvious Signs Of Physical Violence
When a person is subjected to physical assault, you can see it on their body and face. A counselor can see a client walk in who may be sporting a black eye. They may have scratches and marks of an object across their face. In some cases, domestic abuse signs may also include a fat lip and chipped tooth. The client would prefer wearing long sleeve shirts and covering most parts of their body. It’s not uncommon for them to sit slouched and try to appear small or hide from a counselor’s gaze. If the physical signs aren’t apparent, counselors can check for symptoms of bruises and sprains. When they ask the client how they got them, they will have an answer ready. Most clients will reply that they bumped into something or fell down the stairs. However, a strong reaction towards their wounds suggests otherwise. Clients may resort to makeup to hide wounds in some cases, but bruises can stand out against the makeup.
They Are In Denial
People who are going through domestic violence are often in denial. It’s a coping mechanism as acknowledging abuse means you’re acknowledging the danger you may be in. Clients who a parent or a partner abuses will not listen to reason. Most will begin defending the abuser and not accept that they are going through abuse. Clients may resort to blaming themselves, claiming they’re the reason why the abuse took place. They would receive the blame the abuser put on them and use that as a defense tactic. Abuse victims also have a form of trauma bond with their abusers. They may lean on the good selective memories they have of their abuser to call the counselor wrong. If a client is resorting to denial, a counselor will need to pull back slightly. Increased denial suggests a fragile mind. It’s not uncommon for a client to become hysterical or walk out in anger.
Signs Of Emotional Abuse
Domestic violence victims show signs of emotional abuse in different ways. No matter what you ask of them, they’ll try to answer you in a way they think would please the counselor. The client will appear meek and submissive and often talk in a small voice. Their gaze is shifty, and they may struggle to look the counselor in the eye. Clients will also not argue or talk over the counselor. They may agree readily with everything a counselor says without argument. The only place where they may draw silence is when holding the abuser accountable. Emotional abuse is never isolated; it manifests itself physically. The client may show physical signs of depression, starvation, digestion issues and may resort to alcohol and pills for survival. The client may not care about how they look as long as they look meek and small. If counselors pay close attention, they can pick up signs of self-harm, such as injured wrist and picking on wounds. In some cases, the client can start crying or show signs of being ashamed for getting abused.
Increase In Sex and Alcohol
Clients experiencing abuse may turn to different means of survival. Some clients become more promiscuous and have frequent sex to cope with the abuse. If the counselors ask questions about the sex, it can be one-night stands or sex with no safety in mind. It’s not unusual for the client to have an STD or not care with whom they’re having sex. It’s a way to get out of their heads and into their bodies. Alcohol is another go-to coping method. Clients may drink frequently and indulge in alcohol more than they should. Your client can turn up drunk or recover from a hangover. While both these situations may not always indicate domestic violence, counselors must ask a series of questions to confirm the hypothesis. Figure out why the client is indulging these habits and how often they sober up or get scared at the mention of their abuser. If a client refers to abuse and then follows it up with the cause of their injuries, it can be why they’re turning to ways of coping. In cases of extreme abuse, clients may also turn to drugs.
The Questions Need To Be Strategic
Counselors can’t outright ask about abuse. Clients won’t be entirely honest if they’re suffering. The questions need to have careful phrasing. A counselor also needs to get these questions answered to gauge how in danger the client is. Start by asking about their family dynamics. Note the way they talk about their family or their romantic relationships. Ask the client how much they try to keep their partner happy. What’s a typical day like, and then ask if they went through any verbal abuse. The tactic a counselor needs to use here is introductory psychology. They need the client to get slightly comfortable so they can ask the hard questions. Most clients are also jumpy and paranoid. Not all of them may fall for the tactic, but hypervigilance may also tell the counselor they’re getting abused. Some clients are forthcoming, while others may be terrified when the counselor figures out there are abuse.
Signs Of Neglect
Clients who have been abused show signs of neglect. They also neglect those around them. Neglect includes lack of hygiene—no regard for their safety or others. They are not caring about what they are wearing—not eating or drinking enough. If they have children, often, children also face neglect. The abused parent is unaware of their needs or tries to take care of the child to please the abuser. These can include yelling at the child or similarly scolding them as they’re yelled at or scolded at. Once again, these all point to signs of abuse. The children also show poor care and growth, and they’re often heavily dependent on their abused parents for support.
Domestic violence is a social issue. Despite conversations about the topic, it’s still prevalent in many societies. It is why intervention must happen now more than ever. Counselors should intervene in all forms of domestic abuse cases. They should pay attention to the client across them and study signs of abuse. Counselors can also involve the law if they feel the client is suffering too much. Domestic violence cases can get fatal if timely help is not delivered.
Biswajit Rakshit is a professional blogger and writer. He loves to write on various topics.