All relationships have there ups and downs, but there are certain types of behavior in any relationship that are unacceptable and abusive. If you think that your partner is abusive, or you suspect that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, review the information below. Recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to breaking free.
What is relationship abuse?
Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and/or violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try to control him/her.
Self-test: Is your relationship abusive?
Do you wonder if your relationship may be abusive? Ask yourself the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.
Does your partner:
— humiliate, insult, criticize, demean or yell at you?
— ignore or put down your thoughts, feelings or accomplishments?
— treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends and family to see?
— blame you for all the problems in your relationship, or for his/her own
abusive behavior ?
— see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
— act excessively jealous and possessive?
— control where you go or what you do?
— keep you from seeing your friends or family?
— check up on you all of the time to see where you are, what you’re doing and who you
— accuse you without good reason of being unfaithful or flirting?
— limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
— have a bad and unpredictable temper?
— destroy your belongings or things you value?
— hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
— threaten to take your children away or harm them?
— threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
— force you to have sex?
— feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
— avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
— feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
— believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
— wonder if you’re the one who is going crazy?
— feel increasingly trapped or powerless?
— feel emotionally numb or helpless?
What to do if you’re being abused
If you are in an abusive relationship, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. What should you do? The following information can help. Obviously, the level of your response will depend on the degree of seriousness with which the abuse is inflicting emotional or physical injury.
1. Acknowledge the reality of abuse.
The first step toward changing things is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Even if your partner says he/she cares about you and you care about your partner, it’s not okay to be put down, pushed around, scared or intimidated into things that make you feel uncomfortable, unhappy or unsafe, just because you are in a relationship. And it is never okay for your partner to use physical violence. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.
2. Meet with a professional therapist or counselor.
For your health and safety, and the security of any children who may be involved, it is vitally important that you utilize the help of a professional therapist or counselor who can help you assess your situation and advise you with solid principles and practical information. You may need to go several times to address the variety of issues that may be involved in your relationship.