Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial. It maintains power and control of one person over another. Most victims are women, but men and people in same sex relationships suffer too. Over 100 women and 30 men die each year as a result of domestic violence in UK. No particular ‘type’ suffers from domestic violence it exists right across society.
There are many forms of abuse and any physical or sexual abuse should be immediately acted upon. Abuse is not only confined to partners it can affect anyone. Cycles of abuse are often based on an intense need for love and affection, a terror of being abandoned, low self-esteem, isolation and drug or alcohol abuse.
One of the main characteristics of an abusive relationship is control, this can be by force or manipulation – both or one partner can control the other’s behaviour. Often there is an abusive pattern for one or both partners from their backgrounds, abusers have often been victims themselves.
In many abusive relationships friends and family may see a pattern emerge and feel fear and anxiety about the relationship. In others it is very secretive, behind closed doors but changes can still be observed, such as withdrawing, isolating and denial. The longer the behaviour continues the harder it is to break away from it as the victim is so lacking in confidence they can become totally dependent.
Abuse can initially feel quite flattering such as jealousy or insecurity which can lead to a person feeling wanted but also dependent on the abuser. These characteristics can arise from a deep longing for love and affection. But the abuse can grow slowly and subtly and lead to confusion and often the abused partner will blame themselves. As time goes on and the behaviour continues the abused person becomes isolated and vulnerable and the abuser gains total control.
Counselling may help restore self-esteem and re-examine healthy ways of relating.
Issues in ending an abusive relationship are different to those in others.
The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.
This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so called ‘honour based violence’, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. Men and women can be victims of domestic abuse.
Emotional abuse can involve – intimidating behaviour, criticisms, putdowns, controlling and restricting who you see and where you go, shouting, stalking and humiliation.
Physical abuse can involve – punching, kicking slapping – any form of violence including suicide threats.
Sexual abuse can involve – intimidating or coercing you into sexual acts or forcing you to have sex.
Financial abuse can involve – denying you access to money, taking your money, preventing you from getting a job.
Psychological abuse can involve – behaving in ways designed to make a person dependent on them by isolating them from their support, family and friends, regulating everyday behaviour, depriving them the things they need to be independent and exploiting their resources for personal gain.
This list is an example and is not exhaustive. Your experience will be different from someone else’s. You may feel this in no way comes close to how bad your experience is or that you feel yours is not as bad. It is your experience, important and deserving of respect as are you. Counselling could help you to recover and rebuild your life and work through your issues by exploring and addressing your feelings in a safe place with someone who is non-judgemental, empathic and respectful. Please do not suffer in silence or be alone, at the bottom of my website you will find some helpful numbers if it is too soon for you to talk to someone face to face.