Recognising you are in an abusive situation is the very first important step to making changes.
Domestic abuse occurs when one partner within an intimate or family relationship uses coercive behavior to intimidate, dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse can take many different forms including physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.
However the abuse manifests, Domestic abuse is purely about power and the abuser’s desire to have and maintain complete control over their partner or close family member. Abusers commonly use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to control their victim and can also threaten and hurt their partner, or those around them.
Whichever form of abusive behavior is used it is never acceptable and all parties to a relationship have the right to feel valued, respected, and most importantly safe. It is important to remember that no one has the right to be violent or abusive towards you and that there are people out there who can help.
Anyone who is forced or encouraged to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused (from refuge). Remember the abuse is not your fault and you are not alone. If you reading this now this is a great first step into seeking help and making a change.
Domestic Violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any age. It is not limited to any particular gender, ethnicity, religion, social background or sexuality. That said, statistics do show that far more men are perpetrators of Domestic Violence than women.
There are no rules governing when Domestic Violence can happen. It can occur at any stage of a relationship and while it can start as a series or random isolated events it most often escalates in frequency and severity as time goes on.
The only thing abusers have in common is their desire to control their partners or immediate family members. Domestic Violence is all about power and control and while certain circumstances may encourage the abusers behavior like alcohol, drugs or stress, those factors only contribute to their behaviour. Their desire to control their partner is always the primary motivation.
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Physical abuse can range from minor physical assaults through to violet, targeted and repeated episodes. Forms of physical abuse include, but are not limited to pushing, punching, hitting, kicking, choking and using weapons or objects to act out violence. Episodes of physical abuse often grow in frequency and severity over time and so immediate action is required any time you are physically harmed even if it does not result in a bruise or a broken bone. Any intrusion into your physical space is unacceptable and can quickly escalate leading to disastrous consequences and even death.
Emotional Abuse is typically on-going verbal or behavioural abuse of a partner which often accompanies and frequently proceeds physical violence. It is often unrecognized but is equally as harmful as physical violence and can also escalate to physical violence over time. Indeed, it is an attack on your personality rather than on your body and often affects a victim’s sense of reality and perception of self. Emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to insults or put downs, threats, humiliation, jealousy, ignoring feelings, isolating a partner from social contact, yelling, blaming a partner for misfortunes or telling a victim about sexual affairs.
Sexual abuse is the use of emotional and physical violence in sexual relations. Types of sexual abuse include rape, forcing sexual contact or intercourse or using sex as a threat or punishment. It is important to realize that being married or in a relationship does not give an abuser the right to enforce any form of sexual contact onto a spouse or partner. No one should be able to control you by using sex as a weapon.
Financial abuse is a form of control in which an abuser prevents a victim from obtaining access to economic or financial resources. A victim may be kept financially dependent which can result in a complete loss of individual independence and ultimately prevents their ability to make decisions in life. It is one of the most powerful ways a woman can be abused by their partner. This abuse can be done by withdrawing financial support, preventing you working, monitoring how you spend your money or even by putting you at risk by putting all of the bills or debts in your name.
There are many signs of an abusive relationship, the most telling generally being fear and control. If a person is forced to change her behavior because they are frightened of their partner then they are likely being abused. Abusers can use a variety of tactics, including dominance, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, denial and blame to manipulate and exert their power.
The following questions can be used to help determine if you are in an abusive relationship (adapted from www.helpguide.org questionnaire).
Do you feel:
- afraid of your partner much of the time?
- that you must avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- if you’re the one who is crazy?
Does your partner:
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- Humiliate or yell at you?
- Criticize you and put you down?
- Act excessively jealous and possessive?
- Control where you go or what you do?
- Keep them from seeing your friends or family, especially those of the same sex as your partners?
- Expect you to spend all your time with them?
- Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
- Constantly checks up on you?
- Bosses you around and gives you orders?
- Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
- Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- Disregards your suggestions or wishes?
- Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
- Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- Blames you for their problems and makes you feel their behavior is your fault?
- Force you to have sex?
- See you as property or as a sex object, rather than as a person?
- Destroy or goes through your belongings?
It is important to remember than an abuser chooses to act in the way they do. Domestic abuse is not due to an abusers loss of behavioural control. It is a deliberate choice made in order to exert control.
Recognising that you are in an abusive situation is the first step toward getting help.
- Read about the importance of staying safe (insert link)
- Discover the resources available to you (insert link)
- If applicable, learn about the impacts of domestic abuse on children (insert link)
- Contact a support service (insert link)
Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, you need to change the situation. Domestic Abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence so you need to take action. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Don’t forget you are a strong and resilient woman. It takes a lot of courage to survive every day in the face of fear and abuse but you need to make a change.
Recognising you are being abused is a very important first step. Know that you have choices and what you decide to do is completely up to you but always make staying safe your number one priority.
You need to know how to best protect yourself and your children in case of an emergency. Below are some practical considerations you may want to bear in mind:
- Be ready to call 112 in an emergency if you think you are in danger.
- Keep copies of important documents like passports, birth certificates etc in case of a quick exit.
- Keep money and a spare set of keys in a safe place for quick retrieval.
- Report any abuse to your local doctor so there is a record of the abuse.
- Try to organize a safe place you can go to in case of an emergency.
- Know your rights. Domestic Violence is against the law. You have legal rights and housing options available to you.
In situations of Domestic Abuse this can often be one of the most volatile and unpredictable times. Your abuser is often left feeling with a complete loss of control and therefore his behavior may become more erratic and extreme.
It is very important to plan any departure carefully. When you partner has gone to work or is out of your residence in order to avoid any further disputes. It is also important to pack important documents, money, a few items of clothing, medicine and toiletries, a spare set of keys, personal and emergency phone numbers and children’s possessions or toys.
Remember your safety is still of paramount importance. If you still feel afraid speak to the police about extra protection. Change your locks, plan escape routes and inform your child’s school about what is going on making it clear who can or can’t collect the children from school.
- Talk to the police if you till feel afraid
- Fortify your Living Accommodation/change your locks
- Plan escape routes
- Seek legal advice
If you are worried about finding alternative accommodation in Monaco the Police can help. There are safe houses in the principality that you could be allocated for a short or longer term period. (Insert link to safe house section)
It is impossible to know how any child who witnesses Domestic Violence will respond. While many children can become aggressive or anxious, many others can become introverted and quiet and there is simply no way of knowing how a child will make sense of their situation and how their behavior will be affected.
However, with help children can cope with Domestic Abuse and can overcome the trauma of witnessing or experiencing violence and go on to live happy and successful lives.
The most important thing you can do with your child is to talk to them about your situation. They need to understand that what is happening to you or to them is NOT normal or acceptable and that it certainly is NOT their fault. It is very important to discuss their feelings and to answer any questions they may have as honestly as you can so they can understand what is happening.
It is essential children understand that for their own safety they should never try to get involved in a dispute at home and that they know how to call the emergency services if the need should arise.
The best lesson you can teach them is how to ask for help by showing them how to do it for yourself.
All people living in abusive situations hope that their partner will change but statistics show that Domestic Violence usually gets worse over time, not better.
Only when your partner’s need to stop controlling you disappears can you move forward in a positive relationship. He must fully understand that his behavior is unacceptable, that he is entirely to blame for it and that you are in no way responsible for his actions or a contributor to them. Violence is a choice and he must understand that he is making it alone. Only then is there possibility for change.