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Domestic violence is not always about physical abuse

Unfortunately, there are many men and women in abusive relationships, here in Massachusetts and across the country. When thinking about domestic violence situations, most tend to consider the physical side of abuse; however, not all abusive relationships have a physical component. There are multiple ways an abuser may choose to exhibit his or her power and control. Those experiencing any form of domestic violence need to know that they are not alone and help is available.

Domestic violence affects people of all ages, genders and races. These acts of abuse can occur in couple relationships (married or unmarried), children of either party and between family members. Physical abuse is most commonly thought of when the words domestic violence are spoken. The signs are easy to identify and often include causing bodily harm, damaging property, hurting children and preventing one from leaving.

Other common forms of abuse include emotional, digital and financial abuse -- among others. Emotional abusers typically make their victims feel bad about themselves, isolate them from other relationships and make victims feel they are not worthy of anything better and are to blame for the abuse. Digital abuse is becoming more prevalent, as social media is a part of most people's daily lives. This form of abuse may include but is not limited to using technology to bully, harass or threaten a partner or family member, or to control how a person is allowed to use his or her devices and accounts.

While all of these forms of abuse may make a person feel he or she is incapable of leaving a domestic violence situation, financial abuse really makes the idea of escaping seem impossible. Those who are financial abusers tend to keep strict control over the money in a relationship or take advantage of their partner's wealth. This can include not granting access to funds, only giving a victim a small allowance, limiting their partner's work hours and not making a financial contribution to the household.

While the idea of leaving a domestic violence situation may seem frightening, it is possible to do it and to take legal action against an abuser. Legal options for Massachusetts residents typically include filing criminal reports, requesting restraining orders and -- if applicable and desired -- filing for divorce. Moving forward may be difficult, but assistance is available to help with whatever action legal is chosen.

Source: thehotline.org, "Abuse Defined", Accessed on April 14, 2015

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