Am I being abused?
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse occurs when one partner within an intimate or family relationship uses coercive behavior to intimidate, dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse can take many different forms including physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. However the abuse manifests, domestic abuse is purely about power and the abuser’s desire to have and maintain complete control over their partner or close family member.
Abusers commonly use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to control their victim and can also threaten and hurt their partner, or those around them. Whichever form of abusive behavior is used it is never acceptable and all parties to a relationship have the right to feel valued, respected, and most importantly safe. It is important to remember that no one has the right to be violent or abusive towards you and that there are people out there who can help. Anyone who is forced or encouraged to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.
THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
It is important to be aware of the fact that Domestic Abuse typically falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence. This cycle can often lead to forgiveness, self-blame or confusion by a victim and facilitates further abusive instances. An abuser’s apology and remorse coupled with his loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. This can typically lead victims to believe that they are the only person who can help the abuser, that things will be different in the future, and that the abuser truly loves them. This leads to an increasingly dangerous situation.
The cycle of abuse as outlined on www.domesticviolence.org is typically seen as follows:
An initial abusive incident occurs (can be physical, psychological or sexual)
Tension builds, with the abuser trying to quell their violent tendency and the abuse trying to ‘keep the peace’ until finally, another incident happens
Make-up: the abuser apologises, often promising never to do it again, or conversely, trying to shed blame by saying that the victim ‘asked for it’ or is ‘making a big deal out of nothing’.
Calm: both parties act as if nothing is wrong and do their best to ignore the mounting problem
This cycle can go on and on with both parties behavior following the same pattern over and over. As time goes on the ‘Make up’ stages will get shorter and the ‘abusive stages’ will get longer. The violence or abuse can escalate and become more dangerous.
Over time, victims of domestic abuse (like victims of all other types of abuse and trauma) can develop PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Studies of PTSD have shown that individuals suffering with this have a tendency to be violent and therefore the cycle of abuse is repeated through generations and can hence be very hard to break. Source: Psychology today
Always remember the abuse is not your fault and you are not alone. If you are reading this now, this is a first step into seeking help and making a change.
AM I BEING ABUSED?
Domestic violence can affect anybody, from any social background. There is not stereotypical victim and violence can take may forms.
- Physical abuse: pushing, kicking, choking etc.
- Emotional abuse: threats, humiliation, jealousy, isolating one's partner etc.
- Financial abuse: preventing one's partner to work or to have access to financial resources etc.
- Sexual abuse: rape but also any other sexual acts where one doesn't give their full consent.
This list is not exhaustive and each situation is different.