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Knowing the signs of abusive relationships and the resources to receive help

Posted at 7:35 PM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 21:43:53-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Valentine's Day, many couples celebrate their love with flowers and romantic dinners. But for those in an abusive or violent relationship, experts said there's not only physical abuse, there's mental and emotional abuse, financial abuse and even parental abuse.

Domestic violence is a growing concern across the world. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to U.S. hotlines that deal with domestic violence.

Deborah Sabilia, an assistant professor with Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, specializes in intimate relationships, sex crimes and domestic violence training.

She said getting out of an abusive relationship is not easy and for some, it may seem impossible.

"There may be (deep-rooted) love there, there may be a financial aspect," she said. "If he or she leaves, they have absolutely nothing. You have no resources, you may have children. You may not have training, you may not have a job."

Data shows that women are most commonly the victims of abusive relationships. However, men can also be victims.

About 1 in 10 men in the U.S. experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most first-time victimizations occur before the age of 25, with many experiencing violence before turning 18.

For both men and women, there are resources locally in Corpus Christi to help, including the Corpus Christi Police Department's Victim Advocates Program.

"One of the things that we do is sit and talk to our victims about having a code that they can share with their kids and family members," said Bertha Aguas with the Corpus Christi Police Department. "We always try to advise them to call 911 and tell somebody. We do safety plans and we give them information about gathering documents in case they have to leave in a hurry."

When completely getting away from an abuser, restraining orders are a legal tool that can help. The Nueces County Attorney's Office is one place that helps victims start the process of filing a personal protection order.

When taking the next step to file a restraining order, Nueces County Attorney Jenny Dorsey, said there are several items needed when getting help.

"If there is an assault, we need pictures. If you have any of the results and the injuries from the assault, we need dates and times that assaults happen," Dorsey said. "If the police were called and made a report, we need the police report number so that we can help. If there is harassment or stalking, we need evidence of that. If there is social media harassment, we need copies of the posts. Many times, it's not just one time. By the time we see people, there have been several or at least more than one incident."

Knowing the warning signs

Every relationship is different and domestic violence doesn’t always look the same. One feature shared by most abusive relationships is that the abusive partner tries to establish or gain power and control through many different methods, at different moments.

Some common signs of abusive behavior in a partner include:

  • Telling you that you never do anything right.
  • Showing extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them.
  • Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
  • Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
  • Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
  • Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions

While there are many options and resources available, it can call begin with just a phone call.

If you or someone you know are suffering in an abusive relationship, here are some helpful links of organizations and agencies that can help victims:

You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

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