Am I really in an abusive relationship?
We all have arguments from time to time. Everyone disagrees with their partner or with family members or others close to them. There is nothing unusual in this. There are times when we say or do things that we later regret, things that cause unhappiness to others. It’s all part of being human. Except when it goes too far.
Are you experiencing patterns of behaviour that cause you distress? Do you find yourself changing your own behaviour in order to keep the peace with those you share your life with? Do you feel as though you are walking on eggshells?
Why not take a look at the following questions to see whether what you are experiencing is in fact domestic abuse.
Remember, domestic abuse isn’t just about your partner. Any family member can be an abuser, a parent, a sibling or a child
Does anyone close to you try to stop you seeing your friends or family?
Has your partner or anyone else in your family ever put pressure on you to stop working or studying – or even pressured you to get a job?
Are you constantly checked up on, or followed? Maybe your partner or someone in your family demands to know where you are throughout the day?
Does your partner unjustly accuse you of flirting or of having affairs with others?
Do you find yourself constantly belittled or humiliated , regularly criticised or insulted?
Are you ever afraid of your partner or another family member?
Have you ever changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner or other family member might do or say to you?
Has your partner or other family member ever deliberately destroyed any of your possessions?
Has anyone ever hurt or threatened you, your children or any of the household pets?
Have you been kept short of money, been unable to buy food and other necessary items for yourself and your children? Have you been pressured to lend money or to take out loans?
Have you ever been forced to do something that you really did not want to do?
Has your partner or family member ever tried to prevent you from taking necessary medication, or seeking medical help when you felt you needed it?
Has your partner or family member ever tried to control you by telling you that you could be deported because of your immigration status?
Has your partner ever threatened to take your children away, or said he/she would refuse to let you take them with you, or even to see them, if you left him/her?
Has your partner or family member ever forced or harassed you to have sex with him/her or with other people? Has he/she made you participate in sexual activities that you were uncomfortable with?
Has your partner or family member ever tried to prevent your leaving the house?
Are you being blamed for others’ use of alcohol or drugs, or mental health condition ?
Does your partner or family member control your use of alcohol or drugs (for example, by forcing your intake or by withholding substances)?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, this indicates that you may be experiencing domestic abuse.
It is the desire of one person to have absolute power and control over another. An abuser will use a range of techniques to keep the person he/she wants to control compliant.
The person you first met would almost certainly have been charming, would have acted as though you were the most important person in the whole world to them, they may have showered you with gifts and messages...
Then maybe those messages became too frequent, too demanding, too intrusive.
Abuse begins with the small things, words and actions that chip away at your self-confidence, you begin to lose your sense of ‘self’.
What happens next? Perhaps you will start to change the way you behave. After all, they will tell you things like, if you truly love them, why would you want to go out with your friends, visit your brother or sister, or just go for a walk on your own?
They will make it sound as though you are the unreasonable one and as it continues, you will come to believe that this is the case. This is called ‘Gaslighting’, where you start to believe their reality instead of your own.
This could involve hitting, slapping and punching, or throwing objects; it could be shoving, kicking, burning, choking, and it could involve the use of weapons, often something lying around the home that you wouldn’t think of as a weapon: a plate or a vase perhaps.
Are you expected to account for every penny you spend? Do you have access to money or is this withheld from you? Perhaps you are given an impossible budget to follow. Do you have your own account, or do you suspect your partner or family member has accounts you don’t know about?
Do you work or have you been prevented from going to work – it might not be that you’ve been forbidden, more that it’s been made impossibly hard for you. For example, if you have to drive to work and you are not allowed to use the car.
Likewise, if you are studying, is it being made hard for you, is your confidence in your ability to study being undermined?
Does your partner or family member constantly blame you for their problems? Maybe they withhold affection in order to punish you or demand constant attention and affection from you.
Do they call you names, tell you that you can’t cope without them?
Again, this might involve their blaming you and intimidating you, they may threaten to harm or even kill themself. All this will lead to you feeling that you are going crazy, that the world is not as you thought it was – and no wonder, they are forcing you to accept their world view over your own: gaslighting
Maybe you have been forced to engage in unwanted sexual acts, or your partner has refused to practice safe sex.
Witholding sex and affection is just as abusive as demanding sex, or sexual name-calling, similarly criticising and making negative comments about your body or the clothes you are wearing. Maybe they insist on you wearing clothes you haven’t chosen and/or would never choose.
All of these things amount to abuse.