No one really has a firm answer to this question, but many experts agree that certain warning signs are often present in a relationship before domestic violence becomes a reality. Domestic violence is about power and control. It is a pattern of behavior within an intimate relationship in which the perpetrator may engage in a variety of behaviors, many of them abusive, with the goal of controlling the victim.
Many victims of domestic violence don’t see it coming when the relationship is beginning. In fact, their partner may seem near perfect. But as the relationship grows, controlling behaviors may start to emerge, gradually increasing in number and intensity. Your partner may start criticizing or embarrassing you, you may be accused of showing inappropriate attention to other people. Your partner may gradually chip away at the outside relationships you have with family and friends, until your freedom to interact with others feels sharply limited to non-existent. The perpetrator may rigidly control family finances.
These are just a few of the many red flags that the relationship is deteriorating toward domestic violence. Every relationship is different. The key element is that you are feeling forced to engage in behaviors you do not want, or prevented from doing what you want. You may feel threatened emotionally and physically by intimidating threats or actual physical harm inflicted by the perpetrator.
Even if no physical violence has occurred, be aware that your relationship is moving in that direction and seek help. Every community has domestic violence hotlines with help available to evaluate your own relationship for domestic violence. In the Tampa Bay area, contact The Spring domestic violence shelter hotline (813-247-SAFE ) or dial 211 to reach a 24/7 crisis hotline for free, confidential crisis counseling and referral to community resources by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
Discussing your situation with an experienced family law attorney can help you understand your legal rights and remedies in domestic abuse/violence situations. Don’t hesitate to seek qualified assistance if you or someone you care for is threatened by domestic abuse/violence.