Understanding the Red Flags of Domestic Violence
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his resignation late Monday, just hours after The New Yorker published an article in which four women accused him of abuse during their relationships.
The accusations caught some off guard, as Schneiderman has publicly advocated on behalf of domestic violence victims and pursued legal action against Harvey Weinstein. But in private, he was allegedly manipulative and violent.
“There is no stereotypical perpetrator of domestic violence. They come from all socioeconomic levels, religious beliefs, educational backgrounds, racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said Stephanie Love-Patterson, executive director of the nonprofit organization Connections for Abused Women and their Children. “I have countless stories of women in relationships with partners very capable of living double lives, if you will.”
Kristina Buchthal Alkass, a volunteer attorney with domestic violence nonprofit Between Friends, echoes that sentiment. “Someone’s political affiliation or their opinions on public or news matters do not indicate how they’ll behave in a relationship.”
But both say there are clear red flags that indicate whether someone might commit domestic violence. One of the most telling signs is controlling behavior: telling a partner how to dress, where they can go, which of their family and friends they can see. Love-Patterson says a woman who finds herself in an abusive relationship should always call 911, but if she’s not in immediate danger, organizations like CAWC can offer support and help them plan their next steps.
“Women can get help with safety plans – safety plans are so key,” Love-Patterson said. “It’s not easy to get up one day and say, ‘I’m done with this, I’m going to leave.’ We’ve worked for weeks and months with women to come up with a good plan to leave, and leave safely.”
In addition to resources, Alkass says women who come forward about domestic violence also need to be heard and believed.
“Probably the single best thing (from the #MeToo movement), beyond stopping people who have been doing awful things to women over years and years … is that women are coming forward and people are listening to and believing them.”