In the season premiere of Black Ink Crew, Donna receives a phone call from her husband Maxwell while he is behind bars. It quickly escalates, and Maxwell has some nasty insults for Donna. This season, Donna will open up more about their tumultuous relationship.
To help continue the conversation, VH1 has partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to share information on the warning signs of abuse and what to do if you or your friend is in an abusive relationship.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone and doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But, there is one thing that most abusive relationships have in common – the abusive partner does many different things to have power and control over their partners. It can take on a lot of forms like verbal, emotional, digital (on text or social media) or physical. If you’re beginning to feel like your partner – or your friend’s partner – is becoming abusive, here are a few behaviors that you can look for:
• Insulting, demeaning or shaming you with put-downs
• Keeping you from seeing your friends or family
• Controlling who you see, where you go or what you do
• Keeping you from working or attending school
• Looking through your phone frequently, checking your pictures, texts and outgoing calls
• Stealing or demanding your passwords
• Maxing out credit cards in your name without permission
• Attempting to control your appearance
• Forcing or manipulating you into having sex
• Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
Get Help for Yourself
Making decisions can be tricky when you’re trying to figure out if your relationship is right for you, especially if there’s no clear, “right” answer. It’s important to trust your gut, but it can be helpful to get feedback from people who care about you. You can also consider talking to an advocate from The Hotline about how to leave a relationship safely. At the end of the day, no one else is living your life; you are. You are the expert in your situation, and you are the only person who can decide what’s right for you.
Help Your Friend
If someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, it can be hard to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim. Because abuse is about power and control, one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions. You can also offer support by:
• Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation.
• Be supportive and listen.
• Be non-judgmental.
• If they end the relationship, continue supporting them.
• Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
• Help them create a safety plan.
• Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance.
Whether you need help for yourself or a friend, remember that you are not alone and help is always available. To get help or learn more, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.thehotline.org. Services are free and confidential.