Domestic abuse: an ugly name for an uglier reality. Domestic abuse is about control. It is the using of fear, force and/or coercion in order to gain control over another person.
The woman (or, at times, the man) who is being abused, whether physically, emotionally, verbally, sexually, financially or through isolation, often isn’t aware that they are being abused. Sometimes it’s up to those who care about them to see the signs and alert them to their situation. The “fog” that accompanies abuse is a very real one and one that often isn’t easy to escape. The abuser has spent a great deal of time “defining reality” for the abused so that the abused sees themselves and the abuser the way the abuser wants them to see things and not as they really are.
Statistics show that one out of every four women experiences domestic abuse at some point in her life (CDC). 85% of all domestic abuse is towards women; men make up the remaining 15%. According to research, 50% of men who abuse their wives also abuse their children.
Domestic abuse takes many faces: verbal abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, stalking, isolation and digital abuse. All forms of abuse are destructive. Just because there aren’t outward bruises doesn’t mean that there aren’t inward ones. If you are being constantly degraded, yelled at and/or controlled, you are being abused.
The most important thing to look for when deciding if you are a victim of abuse is this: Are you afraid of your partner? Do you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around him? If you have to constantly watch yourself around your husband in order to keep him from getting angry, if you are fearful of “setting him off” or of him “blowing up”, chances are very, very great that you are in an unhealthy or even dangerous relationship.
Other signs to look for are these:
- your partner belittles you, your likes, your ideas
- you are controlled by your partner: your time, your body, your thoughts are not your own
- you often feel that you cannot please your partner or that you cannot do anything right
- you feel scared, helpless, numb
- you believe that you deserve to be hurt
- you wonder if you are crazy
Signs to look for in your partner:
- he humiliates you
- he calls you names
- he has a bad or unpredictable temper
- he blames you for his abuse of you
- he hits you
- he yells at you
- he gives you the silent treatment
- he treats you like a slave or says you are his slave
- he treats you like a sex object
- he says you have no rights
- he says you need to be punished for being a woman
- he is possessive or excessively jealous of you
- he prevents you from seeing your family or friends
- he constantly checks up on you
- he prevents you from leaving the house alone
- he controls all of the money
- he prevents you from having proper health care
- he rapes you
- he punishes you
- he threatens to put you in a corner, lock you in a room or actually does so
- he threatens to harm you or your children if you tell or if you leave
- he threatens to kill himself if you leave him
- he throws things, breaks things, punches holes in walls
- he hurts your pets
- he prevents you from using the phone or the computer (to prevent you from getting help)
- he forces you to perform degrading sexual acts
- he demands you give up your rights
- he demands that you change who you are in order to please him
The Abuse Cycle
- Abuse: Your partner abuses you (any type of abuse).
- Guilt: Your partner begins to feel some degree of guilt, not over abusing you but over what it might cost him (the fear of getting caught, etc.).
- Excuses: Your partner blames you for ‘making’ him abuse you.
- Honeymoon: Things are good for a while causing you to believe he may have changed.
- Planning: Your partner remembers how good it felt to be in control by abusing you and starts planning how to do it again.
- Set-up: Your partner sets you up in some way so that he can justify abusing you.