Abusive relationship

Domestic violence is an issue that is often hidden behind closed doors. This may be due to being threatened of further violence if you tell anybody, or due to feelings of weakness and low self-esteem. An abusive relationship can incorporate a number of violent traits, including physical, sexual and psychological cruelty. This may be a regular event, something that happens at a certain time each year or due to drug abuse.

Those who suffer vary, as it can happen to people from any social group, ethnicity, age and sexuality. It is often thought that only women suffer from domestic abuse, but this is not the case. We only hold this conception as most men are unwilling to admit that they are being abused, due to the stigma attached. An abusive relationship will not only harm the adults, but will also have a lasting affect on the children, if you allow it to continue.

Are you in an abusive relationship?

You should ask yourself the following questions if you think you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Are you fearful of your partner?
  • Does your partner hit you?
  • Has your partner threatened to cause you, or your children, grievous bodily harm?
  • Does your partner regularly get angry when you go out, and keep track of your movements?
  • Do you go to bed in fear?
  • Do you fear for the safety of your children in the hands of your partner?
  • Does your partner deny you food or other necessities?
  • Does your partner constantly put you down, and cause you to have low self-esteem?
  • Do you have to walk around your house as if on egg shells?
  • Do you have to ask for permission to go out on your own?
  • Does your partner make out that things are always your fault?
  • Does your partner threaten to track you and your children down wherever you go?
  • Has your partner threatened to hurt you if you leave?
  • Are your opinions constantly shot down?
  • Does your partner get angry easily?
  • Does your partner promise that they will never hurt you again?
  • Does your partner tell lies to your children about you?
  • Does your partner threaten you?
  • Is your partner very jealous?
  • Does your partner force you into sex?

If your answer is yes to any of the above then you may need help. Being in an abusive relationship is a hard thing to escape, but it can be done.

Discarding the myths

When you hear about someone being in an abusive relationship, you often question why they don’t just leave. But it is never that easy. Below, we quash some of the myths surrounding abusive relationships:

  • Just leave him/her
  • Your self-esteem may have been ground down so much, that you believe you need be with your partner to survive.
  • You may feel that there is no help available, due to the isolation your partner has caused you.
  • There may be cultural reasons that prohibit you from leaving.
  • Many sufferers believe that their partner still loves them, and this can see them stay.
  • Your partner may threaten further violence if you leave, not only to you, but also your children.
  • Shame can be a factor in reporting your suffering to someone. This is often the case for men.
  • Sufferers may not have the money to leave.
  • Many people believe two parents are better than one for their children. But in an abusive relationship, this is far from the truth.
  • They deserve it
  • There are some who believe that people only resort to violence when driven to it.
  • It is a false ideal that only people with an obvious aggressive nature are violent.
  • Nobody wants to be abused.
  • It was the alcohol
  • If your partner hits you when drunk, then there is always the likelihood that they will do it again.
  • Being drunk is no excuse to allow your emotions to get out of hand.
  • Alcohol can allow people to unleash their inhibitions, but this is not always a good thing.
  • They must have been abused themselves
  • Many people often presume that an abuser must have been abused themselves. But this is not the case.
  • Blaming violence on your upbringing is no excuse. You are an individual, no matter what negative experiences you may have encountered.
  • I have never heard about anyone I know suffering from domestic violence
  • The facts speak for themselves. Around one in four women is expected to suffer from domestic violence at least once in their life.
  • The police attend numerous cases of domestic abuse each day.
  • This is a problem hidden behind closed doors, which is why it often goes unreported.
  • If I hide the violence from my children they will not be harmed
  • Children are not stupid, and will know when something is wrong.
  • Your child can still incur psychological scarring when hearing violence through the walls.
  • A child’s imagination can be much worse than their own eyes.
  • Once a violent person always a violent person
  • You can choose to stop your behaviour if you want to.
  • Those who say they can’t stop are kidding themselves. It is their choosing to continue being abusive against their partner.

What to do if you are with an abusive partner

Firstly, don’t blame yourself for your partner’s actions. This is by no means your fault. But choosing to ignore such violent behaviour will only end in things getting worse, for you and your children. If you are strong, and make the decision to leave your abusive partner, then there is help available.

  • You do not need to do this alone - There are a number of agencies that can help to get you out of your abusive relationship. They include the Samaritans, Victim Support Line, the police, Shelterline and social services.
  • Where will you live? - Many of the agencies above offer advice on what to do when it comes to living arrangements. A refuge is an option for starters, and can be organised through Woman’s Aid and Refuge. Your family and friends can also be a source of accommodation for the time being. Furthermore, your local authority can offer temporary housing. If you want to get your partner removed from your house then you will need to have a solicitor. But this can take time, and you may need to take up temporary residence in the mean time.
  • What rights do I have? - Arrangements can be made for your partner not to be allowed within a certain distance of you, or your children. You also have rights when it comes to your house and belongings, but you will need a solicitor.
  • What about my children? - Children are an important issue when it comes to an abusive relationship. It is best to get your children out of a violent situation. You should seek the assistance of a solicitor to ensure you have legal precedence.
  • Money worries - Money may be an issue that is stopping you from leaving your partner, but there is help available. You will be entitled to child support, and there are also other benefits that you may qualify for, including crisis loan, income support, community care grants and jobseekers allowance.
  • Make the decision - Ultimately, it is down to you whether you stay with your partner or not. But you must ensure that future violent behaviour is not allowed, or things will continue as they did before. Ensure that you and your children are safe if you choose to stay, and that you are staying for the right reasons.

Life after an abusive relationship

The scars from an abusive relationship can take a while to heal, whether they are physical or emotional. But with time, you can overcome the nightmare that you have been through. If you are finding it difficult, then a therapist can help. Although this may seem daunting, a professional therapist can help you to take the next steps in your life. It may take a while to be ready to start a new relationship, and it will likely take longer than before to build up a relationship of trust. It is your choice to tell any future partners about your past experiences, but you can be vague if you so wish. It is about whatever works for you. The rest of your life starts now.

What help is available?

There are a variety of organisations that offer help for people who suffer, or have suffered, in an abusive relationship. Below are just a few of them:

  • Refuge - Are able to organise emergency accommodation.
  • Broken Rainbow - Help for gay men and women, as well as bisexuals suffering in an abusive relationship.
  • Women’s Aid Federation - Can offer support and advice.
  • Womankind - An organisation upholding female rights.
  • Mankind - Support for males suffering in an abusive relationship.

Samaritans - Support for those in need.

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