Partner Abuse refers to any abuse committed by one partner against another with whom they have a relationship (usually intimate, sexual, or co-habitating). It involves the intent by the abusive partner to intimidate and control, either by threat or by use of physical force, the person and/or property. Whether it be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual, abuse is a behaviour which is either repeated or threatened to be repeated to induce fear in the victim. Click here for more information on the different types of abuse.
Many abusive relationships develop gradually and at first it might be tempting to write their behaviour off as harmless, perhaps just signs of love, jealousy, or emotional insecurity. Abuse is NOT about jealousy or love – it is about power and control.
80% of reported violent acts towards women are perpetrated by men. We are aware that men are also abused, harassed, sexually assaulted and emotionally abused by their partners but men fail to report when this occurs. Therefore statistics in this area are inaccurate.
If you are experiencing partner abuse, please remember:
- You do not deserve to be abused.
- No one has the right to hurt you.
- You have a right to be free from the abuse.
- There is help available.
Alcohol/Drugs and Partner Abuse
It’s common for abusive partners to blame drugs or alcohol for their unhealthy behaviour. They often do not accept responsibility for their actions or address the real reasons for the abuse. Drugs and alcohol do affect a person’s judgment and behaviour but they are not a reason for the violent behaviour, only an excuse.
Are You or Someone You Know Being Abused?
It is important to know the signs of partner abuse and to know you don’t have to tolerate it.
Has your partner ever:
- Called you names, made jokes at your expense, or humiliated you in private, or in front of others?
- Insisted you have sex when you didn’t want to or insisted you take part in sexual activities you dislike or that caused pain?
- Refused to let you work or forced you to work?
- Refused to let you leave the house?
- Constantly demanded to know where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with?
- Monitored your phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, etc?
- Refused to let you phone your friends or family?
- Told you who you can and can’t talk to?
- Constantly questioned your spending or taken control of your money?
- Followed you in a way that made you fearful?
- Used physical force (push, punch, slap, strangle, shake, use objects/weapons, etc.)?
- Physically harmed others (children, pets, family members, friends, neighbours, etc.)?
- Threatened to use physical force?
- Threatened to kill you or others if you leave?
- Threatened to kill themselves if you leave?
- Blamed you for their abusive behaviour and told you it was your fault?
- Destroyed your possessions?
- Showed up unexpectedly, when they were not invited and not welcome at social or work events?
- Insisted you use drugs or alcohol against your will?
If you are still unsure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you often doubt your judgment or wonder if you’re crazy?
- Do you see less of friends and family than you used to or would like to?
- Have you lost confidence in your abilities?
- Do you feel afraid of your partner and feel as if you are “walking on eggshells”?
- Are you unhappy most of the time?
- Do you feel hopeless and overwhelmed?
If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, you may be experiencing abuse. You can talk to someone who can help. There are options available for people who are being or have been abused by their partners.
What Are Your Options?
- Stay in the relationship and accept it as it is.
This is a very dangerous option. There is a possibility someone will die if no changes are made. Some people are murdered, others are pushed to the limit and they murder, others commit suicide. You must realize that your children are also suffering and these effects may continue into their adult life. For example, they may become abusers, end up in abusive relationships, develop eating disorders, abuse alcohol &/or drugs, etc…
- Stay in the relationship where change is occurring.
Partner abuse offenders need to recognize that they need professional help and that it is wrong for them to abuse you. You cannot make changes for them. Nothing you do will stop your partner’s behaviour. You also need someone to talk to. Find a counsellor with whom you are comfortable. Together you can explore the dynamics of your relationship and rebuild your self-esteem. Join a support group. You’ll be surprised how many people have experienced a similar situation.
- Leave the relationship and move towards a healthy environment for you and your children.
Deciding to leave is a painful decision. However, once you leave, you can start to take charge of your life and begin to make decisions for yourself.