Three women in the U.S. each day are murdered by their intimate partners.
This number is shocking, especially because we often only hear when a victim of domestic or dating violence is murdered when it involves a celebrity or sports figure, or if it happens locally. Sadly, on Oct. 8, the Pittsburgh community was stunned to learn that Pitt student Alina Sheykhet had been killed. Charged by police in her death is Matthew Darby, her ex-boyfriend, a Pitt Greensburg student.
But Alina is not a statistic. She was a vibrant, smart, sweet young woman whose life was cut short.
In an abusive relationship, the burden of keeping safe unfortunately falls on the victim, when accountability should not be on the victim but rather on the batterer. It’s the batterer who commits crimes such as assault, stalking and terroristic threats. It’s the batterer who uses abusive behavior, such as emotional, psychological or financial abuse. It’s the batterer who utilizes a pattern of power and control over their partner, leading to increasing danger, isolation and deterioration of the victim’s self-esteem. Yet we often still blame the victim, even though the batterer’s behavior is always a choice – and never the fault of the victim.
It bears repeating – violence is never the victim’s fault. With that said, there are red flags to watch out for, and lethal violence can often be predicted, planned for and avoided with the help of domestic violence professionals.
Spotting the signs of abuse isn’t always a simple process because there are many different types that can affect women and men, regardless of age, race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion or sexual orientation. But there are some common characteristics among abusers that you can spot, if you know what to look for in a relationship.
How To Spot an Abuser:
• Abusers often deny the existence of any violence, or attempt to minimize the seriousness of their actions and the effects on the victim.
• Abusers may objectify their victims, treating them as nothing more than property or a sexual object.
• Abusers seek to put others beneath them through physical or verbal abuse, rather than lifting themselves and others up.
• Abusers often do not take responsibility for their actions. They blame their violence and abuse on their victims, or outside factors such as alcohol, financial problems or even a “bad day” at work. They may apologize and promise to change, but they continue the abusive behavior.
• Abusers often don’t show their true selves outside of the relationship, often appearing kind or charming to others. Many are experts at hiding their behaviors from the world, which is why many victims face doubt and skepticism when they come forward. Some people simply cannot believe that someone they know, who seems so friendly and charismatic, could be capable of such terrible acts.
Look for these common warning signs and characteristics to help you identify a potential abuser.
• Severe jealousy – remember that jealousy is not love
• Name calling, insults or disparaging language
• Explosive temper
• Controlling and manipulative behavior
• Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships
• Rape or sexual coercion
• Sabotage or refusal of birth control methods
• Animal cruelty or abuse
• Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
• Obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
• Controlling finances
• Accusing the victim of flirting with others or having an affair
• Dictating what the victim wears and how they act
• Stalking, in person or online
• Demeaning, embarrassing or humiliating the victim either privately or publicly
• Harassment of the victim
• Abuse of other family members, children or pets
Help is available, confidential and free. If you think that you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, call the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh’s 24-Hour Hotline at 412-687-8005, ext. 1, or Toll-Free at 877-338-TALK (8255) for help or information. Downloading the RUSafe app to assess whether you or a loved one may be in a dangerous relationship is a helpful tool to start a conversation and reach out for help. In addition to comprehensive services for victims, WC&S also runs intervention groups in the community for batterers.
Journeying from being a victim of domestic violence to a survivor takes courage, and WC&S is proud to help 6,000 adult and child victims each year. Please reach out to WC&S if you or someone you love needs our help.
Article written and sponsored by Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh (412)-687-8005.