Abusive Relationships

This is a topic that can be difficult to approach, a topic that seems too big, too hard and too scary to look at. But, no person should live life in a state of fear of the partner they love.

 What is domestic violence and abuse?

Domestic abuse is when one partner in a marriage or relationship dominates or controls the other partner – this can include physical violence. The sole reason is to have total control over the person. To keep you where they want you the abusive partner will use fear, guilt, intimidation and shame. Or they may threaten or hurt you or those people around you. Domestic abuse does not only happen in one social group. It can happen in all age groups, same sex relationships, all ethnic groups and all economic groups. Both men and women can fall victim to abuse.

Recognizing you are in an abusive relationship is very important – you may find yourself making excuses for your partner’s unacceptable behaviour, this is all part of the abusive cycle. Threatening language and verbal abuse often will lead on to physical abuse. Being in an abusive relationship can strip away your self worth, it can lead to depression and anxiety, and leave you feeling helpless and isolated.

Some signs to be aware of are –

–          being in fear of your partner;

–          being very careful not to upset your partner;

–          avoiding topics that may cause your partner to explode;

–          being belittled and controlled by your partner and feeling helpless, desperate and loathing yourself.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, talk to someone and get help.

Emotional abuse

Abusive relationships are not just the physically abusive situations. Just because you are not being beaten and bruised does not mean your relationship is not abusive. Being emotionally abused is just as harmful and can be overlooked by the person being abused.

 What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse – being called names, being yelled at, blaming and shaming, being isolated and intimidated. The abuser may also threaten you if you don’t do what they want you to do.

Don’t be fooled into thinking physical abuse is worse because it can put you into hospital and cause injury. Emotional abuse is very real and the scars are long lasting.

Being aware

We don’t know what is happening in the lives of family, friends and neighbours. Here are some signs that should send an alarm bell ringing if you notice the following:

She/He may

–          be anxious to please, or be afraid of their partner;

–          agree with everything their partner says, thinks and does;

–          need to ring their partner regularly to let them know where they are and who they are with and what they are doing;

–          receive many calls from their partner;

–          talk about their partner’s threatening or controlling behaviour, jealousy and possessiveness;

–          have bumps and bruises that they cannot explain, wear clothing and sunglasses to cover any injuries;

–          be kept away from family and friends;

–          always be with their partner when out in public;

–          have changed from being confident and outgoing to having low self-esteem and becoming introverted;

–          be anxious and depressed and even suicidal.

Absolutely no person deserves to be treated in this way; this behaviour is totally unacceptable whether it comes from a man or a woman, an older person or a younger person. You need to feel valued, honoured and respected.

If you are in a situation of abuse or believe someone you know is – speak up, get help or show that person your concern, you just may save their life.

Here are some words of encouragement from a young woman who had the courage, strength and wisdom to walk away from a five year relationship that had been emotionally abusive.

My advice to other women is when you see ads on television saying “you’re not alone” believe you really are not alone. I was amazed at how helpful my friends and family were. The day you tell someone is the day when the light will shine brighter for you. And those supporting friends or family going through this please stick in there for the person going through this journey. You deserve to be treated better, make the call and remember that the temporary pain of leaving someone is better than living your whole life unhappy

 Here are some National hotlines for Australia, keep them somewhere safe or pass them on.

1800RESPECT (1800737732) 24 hour, NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COUNSELLING LINE

LIFELINE (24 hours) 131 114

TRANSLATING AND INTERPRETING SERVICE Phone to gain access to an interpreter in your own language (free) 131 450

MENSLINE AUSTRALIA Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties 1300 78 99 78

KIDS HELP LINE Telephone counselling for children and young people Freecall: 1800 551 800 Email and web counselling www.kidshelp.com.au

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