Abuse in Relationships
Abuse takes many forms and considering the exposure in my counselling work, it is an element in relationships that largely goes undetected. Abuse in relationships occurs across socioeconomic borders, cultural backgrounds and is wide spread in all types of communities. It often goes undetected due to the fact that those who are victims of abuse (emotional and/or physical) feel embarrassed and humiliated. They also become brainwashed by the abuser and begin to question themselves.
Common statements from the victim exist such as:
He/she isn’t always mean and unkind.
He/she is always sorry after hitting me or verbally abusing me.
I feel sorry for him/her as they don’t mean to do it.
I love him/her.
They have promised they will change.
I am too afraid to leave him/her.
I would never cope on my own without him/her.
There are many reasons why someone stays with an abuser. They could have had a difficult childhood and somehow have come to believe that they deserve the bad treatment. For many, they have weaknesses (such as low self esteem, lack of confidence, passive personality) – something an abuser will often pick up on and use to their advantage. This makes it easier to control their victim and keep them staying around even when the abuse begins. There are many dysfunctional elements at play that sustain and maintain the abusive relationship.
Types of Abuse:
Physical violence is the obvious one. This is also a more black and white form of abuse. There can be no doubt that a wrongdoing has occurred.
Emotional abuse is harder to pinpoint. It can take the form of subtle body language signs (I know of one couple where the abuser would just give the victim a certain look when they were out that would signify a beating would be waiting when they returned home).
It can be verbal abuse – constant criticism. This is all part of the abuser’s plan to break down the victim’s self esteem and make them more malleable and allows for easier control and manipulation.
Comments such as “You never do anything right. I ask you to do one simple task…”; “You look hideous in that outfit. I am not going out with you looking like that”; “You are nothing without me. No one else would want you.”
The above are just a few examples of verbal abuse.
Abuse in relationships can also take the form of control and possessiveness. A partner who always wants to know where you are, keeps tabs on you and stops you seeing family and friends is engaging in abusive behaviour. The abuser will often cleverly manipulate the situation by saying something like “I only do it because I care about you”. No – they only do it because they care about controlling you.
Abuse is often subtle. Abusers are good at disguising their true intentions. They often marvel at their own clever manipulations. They get a kick out of controlling others. They can make you feel like the most amazing person on the planet and just as easily take it all away, leaving you feeling the most worthless human being. They can do this with only a few words…
If you fear that you might be in an abusive relationship, get help. Abuse very rarely ends without intervention.
Organisations/Charities that can help: