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Domestic abuse can take many forms, all legit

A victim of domestic abuse doesn't need to receive a black eye or a ribcage of bruises to nonetheless be the target of what the United Nations terms “intimate partner violence.” Domestic abuse can be physical – but it can also be psychological, emotional, economic or sexual. As the United Nations states, it “can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner… This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.”

In mid-September, state Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield), filed a complaint of domestic abuse against fellow state Rep. Steve Marino (R-Harrison Township). Marino confirmed the two previously had a personal relationship which he said ended about a year ago, and he has denied any kind of abuse.

Manoogian has not divulged the nature of the abuse by Marino, as is her prerogative and privilege. There have been reports from court documents that Marino allegedly sent text messages to Manoogian threatening physical harm.

The Michigan State Police is investigating the complaints, and Manoogian has obtained a personal protection order (PPO) against Marino, which her attorney said was to ensure her safety and well-being. While we await the results of the Michigan State Police examination, we do know PPOs are not given without evidence.

And therein lies an important point – while some people may discount allegations of domestic abuse because purportedly no physical violence took place, they would definitely be mistaken. Domestic abuse can take many forms, and affect not only women and girls, but men and boys as well, of any race, religion, class, sexual orientation or age. Domestic abuse is about power – and can take the form of intimidation, shame, either private or public, embarrassment in front of others, make you feel less about yourself, blame you for their deficits, treat you roughly, tell you you are nothing without them, and many other forms. But it is always about the abuser, and not the victim. You can't necessarily spot an abuser, which is why it is critical to trust the voice of a victim when they gain the strength to report it or leave an abusive situation.

If left unchecked, experts warn domestic abuse almost always escalates.

Manoogian is wise beyond her 29 years, because whether her alleged abuser threatened her by text or email, she took action before it could damage her further, whether to her reputation or through physical violence. While the incidents undoubtedly harmed her emotionally, by reporting them to the Michigan State Police and informing the media, thereby taking control of the narrative, she hopefully prevented a situation from turning far darker than it already has been.

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