DOMESTIC abuse often starts with verbal abuse before it
turns into physical violence.
While physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the
emotional and psychological costs are also severe.
Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your
self-esteem, lead to depression, and give you a sense of helplessness.
Recognising that your situation is abusive is the first step to being free.
SIGNS OF AN
- You’re afraid of your partner
- Your partner is jealous
- Your partner threatens or belittles you
- Your partner controls you
Dominance: Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the
relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to
do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a
servant, child, or even as his or her possession.
Humiliation: An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you
feel bad about yourself. After all, if you believe you are worthless and that
no one else will want you, you are less likely to escape. Insults,
name-calling, shaming, and public belittlement are all artillery of abuse.
Isolation: In order to increase your dependence, an abusive partner
will cut you off from the outside world by keeping you from seeing friends and
family, or even prevent you from going to work.
Threats: Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from
leaving. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, or other
family members, and may threaten to report you to child services.
Intimidation: Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics
intended to scare you into obedience. Such tactics include making threatening
gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, or putting
weaponry on display.
Denial and blame: Your abusive partner may minimise the abuse or deny that
it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the blame onto you.
Keeping it secret: Abusers can be very cunning, especially if physical
violence is involved. Care is often taken to inflict wounds on areas of the body that
can be concealed from others by clothes. The abuser will also try to ensure there are no
witnesses to the abuse as this could have serious consequences for them.
STRATEGIES OF ABUSED WOMEN
Denial or making
light of the abuse: This involves pretending that the abuse isn't happening
because it is too overwhelming to face what it means in her life. “I needed to
believe that he'd never do it again...I still cared about him...I wasn't
seeing... Denying what was happening to me was my way of hanging onto my
Learning not to
fight back: Fighting often escalates violence and causes her more
Substance abuse: This is a way of helping her numb the pain. "I was
so nervous that I drank to calm my nerves".
or acts: This may be the only way out she can see for herself.
"I thought about killing myself".
Paralysis: She does not do anything because whatever she does leads
to more abuse. "I would freeze... I was totally numb and dead...
eventually I got paralysed with fear."
Trying to please
the abuser: She will go to extreme lengths to try to prevent violent
outbreaks. "At home the harder she tried, the more she failed...I really
did a lot of work trying to keep the lid on things, keep things happy... I
became compulsive... I did everything right... did everything to perfection."
Belief in her own
inferiority: The abuser insists that she accept his opinions and be
submissive, passive and indecisive. He needs her to be dependent and feel
inferior so he can feel in control. If she is not, he is likely to become
TAKING STEPS TO
HEAL AND MOVE ON
The trauma of what you’ve been through can stay with you
long after you’ve escaped the abusive situation. Counselling, therapy, and
support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you process what you’ve
been through and learn how to build new and healthy relationships.
WHERE TO FIND HELP
Lifeline: 011 422 4242 or 0861 322 322
Women Abuse (POWA): 011 642 4345/6
Violence helpline: 0800 150 150