Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following descriptions of abuse, reach out now. There is help available. No one should live in fear of the person they love.
‘My partner isn’t violent all the time – he loves me’
Your violent partner may act loving towards you at other times and may truly feel sorry for their horrible behaviour. So, it might be hard to stay angry and upset with them. However, there is quite a high chance that their violent behaviour will continue. Abusers can be super-charming people, especially if they are trying to make you or others see them in a good light.
‘Things will get better – he didn’t mean it’
After a violent episode, it’s common for both you and your abuser to try and downplay what happened with excuses, apologies or promises to change. Things might settle down for a bit, but it’s often only a matter of time before it happens again. Abusive behaviour is very difficult to change, and usually requires professional help.
‘It’s so confusing – I’m sure it’s a one-off’
If you are experiencing abuse, things can feel really confusing, especially if it’s your first relationship. You might not be sure what to expect next. Abusers often try to influence your sense of what is real, to make you feel confused or even that you are going crazy. (This is known as ‘gas-lighting’.) Statistically, though, if someone behaves violently once, they are very likely to do it again.
‘Maybe it’s my fault’
You may begin to think that you are to blame for your partner’s abusive behaviour. An abuser may excuse their behaviour by saying something like, ‘It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t…’ The truth is that no matter what you do, another person’s abusive behaviour is never your fault.
‘I’m scared of what will happen if I leave them’
It’s not unusual to feel afraid of leaving the person who is abusing you. You might feel unsafe, or scared of what the person might do to you or themselves. You might also feel that you aren’t capable of making it on your own. It’s important to remember that there are people who can help you every step of the way.
What can I do now?
- Find out what you can do about domestic violence.
- Try counselling providers to learn about the support options available for you.
- Seek help from local support services.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro