Abuse, simply put, is being treated badly. As humans, we all have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. We all deserve to live our lives free of abuse. There is never an excuse for abuse and abuse is a very serious problem! When we look at an abusive relationship, one of the patterns that is almost always seen is that there is almost always one person that is the abuser, and the other the abused. The abuser typically has more power in the relationship, because the abuser simply wants to control the abused. The abused, the one with less power in the relationship, is usually the one who ends up hurting, either emotionally, physically, sexually or financially. The abuser does not have to always be the one to initiate the argument, the sexual act, or arrange the financial situation. Even if the abused were the ones to initiate the argument, almost always the abused is the one who ends up getting hurt. So if you consistently have less power in your relationship, most likely there is a pattern of abuse there.
Your abuser can be anyone: your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, employer, child, parent, or caregiver.
Please review the checklist below, be honest with yourself as you read it, and ask yourself the questions. If any of these indicators exist in your relationship, you may be in an abusive relationship. If you are not currently in a relationship, use these indicators as “red flags” to assist in identifying a possibly abusive person:
Does your partner monitor what you are doing all the time?
Are you criticized for small things?
Do you feel nervous around your partner?
Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid their anger?
Does he constantly accuse you of being unfaithful?
Do you feel pressured when it comes to sex?
Are you scared of disagreeing with your partner?
Does he prevent you or discourages you from seeing friends or family, or going to school or work?
Do you feel uncomfortable being out with your friends or family when he's not around, and feel the need to explain yourself to him although you were doing nothing wrong?
Does your partner humiliate you in front of others?
Are they always checking up or questioning you about what you do without them?
Does he get angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs?
Does your partner repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?
Does your partner's jealousy stop you from seeing friends and family?
Does your partner make you feel like you are wrong, crazy, stupid, or inadequate?
Does your partner control how you spend your money? Or your use of needed medicine?
Does your partner destroy your property or things that you care about?
Does he threaten to hurt you, or the children, or pets, or does he hurt you by biting, pinching, hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping, smothering, kicking, punching, or pulling your hair?
Do you feel with your partner that nothing you ever do is good enough?
Have you ever been scared, or threatened by violent outburst?
Does your partner prevent you from going out doing the things you want to do?
Are you expected to do things to please your partner rather than please yourself?
Do you always feel like you have to “make things right”?
Are you the blame for his violent outburst or bad behavior, is everything always your fault?
If you are being abused, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. You may blame yourself for what is happening. You are never responsible for your partners abusive actions, no matter what others might say. Abuse, is a choice. Abuse is not your fault and you deserve better! If you feel like any of these indicators exist in your relationship, following we will be examining each form of abuse so that you will have help identifying what kind of abuse you may be experiencing.
Physical Abuse: is physical force or violence that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. It is involving contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or harm. It can include assault, battery, and inappropriate restraint. This can be hitting, grabbing, biting, choking, throwing things, and assault with a weapon.
Financial Abuse: A form of domestic violence in which the abuser uses money as a means of controlling his partner. The abuser may deny his partner money by forbidding his partner to work, or if she does work requiring her to hand her paycheck over to him. Any money that the abused may receive has to be accounted for by her to her abuser. The abuser may not allow her to see bank records or bills or credit cards. Some abusers refuse to work putting burden upon the partner to keep up the household. Financial abuse can also include making you buy things that you can not afford, taking your savings or retirement, having the abusers name on all your property such as cars, houses, mobile homes, or apartments, stealing your bank cards, or credit cards, getting you evicted, controlling all the money.
Sexual Abuse: includes rape, incest, attempted rape, or unwanted touching. The legal definition of forcible rape varies from state to state. However, it is generally viewed as penetration by force or threat of force of a body orifice, including the rectum, mouth or vagina. Penetration includes foreign objects and body parts, such as fingers. Most sexual assaults go unreported because the abused feel it was ultimately their fault and they may be viewed differently by friends and family. Men abuse women, women abuse men, sexual assault occur in all types of relationships, married and unmarried. Sexual assault is a criminal activity that the abuser uses to seek control and power in order to humiliate the abused. Whether the abuse is unwanted touching or forcible rape, the end result is physical and psychological violence to the abused. Directly after an assault, notify the police. Do NOT shower, bathe, douche, or destroy clothing, or straightened up the area where the abuse occurred. These acts may alter or destroy important evidence. Go to your nearest hospital or emergency room.
Verbal Abuse: a form of abusive behavior involving the use of language. Oral communication is the most common form of verbal abuse, but it also includes words in written form. If you are constantly being compared to others and told you are not good enough, put down or being called out of your name, you may be experiencing a form of verbal abuse. Other forms of verbal abuse are using words to shame the abused, yelling, swearing, screaming at the abused, using threats to intimidate the abused, blaming the abused, saying whatever it takes to play on the abused person's emotions.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse: includes all kinds of hurtful behaviors, words, insults, or actions designed to cause fear by manipulating, intimidating, threatening, or isolating the one being abused. It occur when one's feelings, thoughts, preferences, desires, needs, appearance or friendships are made out to be unimportant compared to the abuser's. Tactics may include putdowns and denial that previous incidents actually happened. It is characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that is psychologically harmful. Emotional abuse is like brainwashing, it systematically wears away at your self confidence, your self-worth, your trust, and your self-concept, your self-esteem. This type of abuse does not leave physical bruises but it scars the souls of the ones being abused, it cuts the core of a person, it may leave deep emotional scars, causing feelings of worthlessness. Women who have been emotionally abused say that it is even more damaging and harder to heal than physical abuse. Emotional abuse is very hurtful and many women who are being emotionally abused do not realize what is happening to them.
Abuse can have very damaging effects on the one being abused.
The effects may include:
depression ¦ lack of motivation ¦ confusion ¦ difficulty concentrating or making decisions ¦ a loss of enthusiasm ¦ a loss of self-confidence ¦ low self-esteem¦ distrust of future relationships ¦ feelings of failure ¦ feelings of worthlessness and/or hopelessness ¦ a growing self-doubt ¦ self-destructiveness ¦ a desire to escape or runaway ¦ self blame ¦ a internal “critical voice” ¦ anxiety or fear of being crazy ¦ a feeling of not being “good enough” ¦ eating and sleeping disorders.
So now you've identified the type of abuse you're experiencing. It may be more than one, or just one form. Your abuse may be infrequent, but keep in mind that over time abuse always tends to escalate. When we love someone we tend to make excuses for their behavior, we always want to give them the benefit of the doubt. You can not stop your partners abuse, but you can find help or support for yourself. What are your next steps? You have options. You first need to determine whether you want to leave or stay. Whether you leave, or stay, you should develop a safety plan.
Your safety plan should include:
Who you can call in the event of a crisis
If you need to flee temporarily, where can you go? Think of several different places and write down the addresses and phone numbers, and keep them with you.
If you need to flee from home, have an escape route at all times
Have a safe place, someone or someplace you can trust, for important paperwork in case you have to flee. Example: birth certificates, health records, social security cards, etc
Have a safe place for credit cards, extra cash, an extra set of keys, extra clothing and comfort items
Teach the children to call the police and/or family members
Change locks on doors and windows
Install a security system
Is a restraining order an option?
Have numbers and addresses to local community and legal resource centers
Review the safety of your childcare arrangements
There are many support groups and domestic violence organizations that are here to assist you. If you need help, contact your local police station or the national domestic violence hotline at 800-799-SAFE.
Finding help for yourself is key. Becoming in tune with your higher power, whether through prayer or another source, is also another effective way in coping with your emotional anxieties. You are in a situation that you may feel is beyond your ability or control and it brings with it emotional anxieties.