On October 1, 2010, President Barack Obama declared October 2010 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For many this seems a rather moot point as for many years the various organizations the United States have recognized October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month but it is a large step in creating the home as a safe place to be instead of a place of fear and pain.
Very often those who are in abusive relationships either excuse away or feel that what they are living with is not actually abuse or they feel they have caused an extreme reaction from their partner because of something the victim did or did not do. Remember both men and women are abused. It is seldom spoken of because most men feel an additional shame of the fact that someone smaller than themselves has hurt them. It is claimed that approximately forty percent of all domestic violence reported involves a male who has been abused by a woman. This is no longer a gender specific issue.
Is it really abuse if…?
The following are some way that victims explain away or rationalize what is actually defined as abusive behavior.
My partner only hits me sometimes when I do something that upsets them.
There is no such thing as “sometimes” in abuse. One time is one time to often when someone puts their hands on you. There is no excuse for physical assault. Everyone gets upset, everyone does things to upset their partner but not everyone accepts physical violence as a result of such behavior. There is no good reason for someone putting their hands on you.
My Partner used to hit be but since I started just agreeing with him/her it has stopped.
This is not a sign that the abuse has stopped but instead has reached another level. You have gone from outward signs of abusive to the more subtle and often more damaging form of abuse. Your partner has control. You have given up your voice, your rights and your ability to be yourself to avoid being hit.
My partner has never hit me but he/she often criticizes the things I do. I know I do things that bother them and they get frustrated. Sometimes he/she calls me name or says I am stupid. That’s not really abuse it is?
It is abuse. If you are with someone who doesn’t accept you as you are then they really don’t want you to begin with. Name calling is never acceptable and incredibly harmful to ones emotional well being. Belittling someone is abuse, yelling and screaming is abusive behavior. Often an abuser will use these methods to gain control and make you question yourself, your mental state and your self worth.
My partner goes through my stuff, monitors my phone and computer activity but I know it’s only because he/she cares.
Is this really the kind of care you want? Someone who doesn’t trust you? This is not coming from a point of caring its paranoia and it’s invasive. Everyone, even those in a relationship have the right to some level of privacy. If your partner doesn’t trust you, then there is no relationship to be had in the first place. Without trust, any relationship is doomed but an abusive is looking for “evidence” of wrong doing as an excuse to become abusive and more controlling. This is not care. Adult make choices for themselves and yes, sometimes make mistakes but a healthy partner is there to help you when you make poor choices and trust that you will normally make the right choices.
My partner loves me enough to tell me when friends or family are bad for me. He/She will often behave badly to make these people uncomfortable when they come to visit me.
Many abusers will try to isolate you from friends and family. It is easier to hide abuse if there are not prying eyes and ears to see what is going on. Also isolating someone who is being abused makes it harder for them to leave when they don’t have friends of family to go to when things get out of hand. Often friends and family will recognize abuse before the recipient of the abuse can see it. An abuser doesn’t want loved ones “filling your head” with such ideas.
If any of the above sounds like your or your partner, you are in an abusive relationship and it’s time to get out. Contact your local authorities, shelter or Domestic Violence Hotline. If you don’t know who to contact in your area then contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-The-Safe(7233) or via TY 1-800-727-3224.
There is help for you. Remember, abuse can come from violence, actions or word, if you are being made to feel bad about yourself or you are afraid to speak up for yourself then you are in an abusive situation and you can get help. This is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about when asking for help. Nobody deserves to be mistreated and love should never hurt.