At the end of myself…at the feet of Jesus

Matthew 25: 40, And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

What is Domestic Abuse? Am I being abused?

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, digitally or by being stalked, 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, 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 (boyfriend, etc.) 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

  1. Abuse: Your partner abuses you (any type of abuse).
  2. 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.).
  3. Excuses: Your partner blames you for ‘making’ him abuse you.
  4. Honeymoon: Things are good for a while causing you to believe he may have changed.
  5. Planning: Your partner remembers how good it felt to abuse you and starts planning how to do it again.
  6. Set-up: Your partner sets you up in some way so that he can justify abusing you.

2 thoughts on “What is Domestic Abuse? Am I being abused?

  1. Only for the sake of advice, not a professional opinion;
    Is it just me and my own faults, or “bound to happen” that after 10 years of ongoing verbal abuse, and a past history of physical abuse (in this relationship) I have in turn become abusive towards him? As in finally standing up for myself, but sometimes doing it in a bad way – like saying belittling things to him, or threatening him. Feeling that if I can insult him first and say worse things to him, I can somehow shield myself from what he says or does.. (though I get more hurt thown back, and I become the evil one – maybe this benefits him?)

    Like I said, I don’t expect an expert opinion, but I need some kind of opinion.

    It’s terrible that when we fight, and I tell him I hate this, he tells me to leave and I won’t.
    “Just leave, I don’t want you here!”
    But I get so mad…why can’t he leave?
    Pain and deep sadness is awful, but it is my comfort zone. I fear what lies beyond, it causes me horrible anxiety. I would lose my home, he would be able to stay. I would split my son between the home he loves and the “God Knows Where” I would have to live. And every bit of the way, his parents would help him out (They also own the home, we rent from them.)
    I would be alone. I think more helpless than I am now – because when its good, its good and I can rely on him for friendship, financially, and even when it sucks, it’s still someone there.
    I was 16 when we met, and now I’m afraid to “start” my life at 26. But I’m a mom, and I feel so selfish keeping my son in an unsafe home.

    PS- When the nurses at my clinic ask “Do you feel safe at home?” What if I say no?

    • Dear CR,

      I am so sorry for my delay in getting back to you. Your story resonates with me. I have been where you are. I became angry and would lash out. After so many years, it’s natural. It’s not what God wants but it is natural. There are those who might be able to help you. Your church maybe? I know some are sympathetic with the plight of abused women and some aren’t. The local women’s shelter should be able to offer you advice, perhaps even housing. They can help you make a safety plan, a life plan. Offer counseling. Verbal abuse IS abuse. It’s just as damaging, if not more so, as physical abuse. It’s hard to start over at any age. You aren’t that old. You can change your life. I know you can. You can make things better for your son. Please don’t believe the words your husband says and don’t feel that you have to stay in a dangerous situation. If you feel like you can trust the ones asking you if you feel safe then please tell them the truth. It might your first step towards a better life. I’ll be praying for you and if you need to talk or ask further questions, you can contact me at ~ In Christ, Anna

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