A desire for power and control drives all abuse. Remember that while others may try, no one can control anyone else’s thoughts and feelings. Abusers cannot gain control of their victim’s love through pain and manipulation. Victims cannot control their abusers’ actions with submission and silence. Protecting yourself from abuse is easier when you recognize that you are in control of your own life, no matter what.
Types of Relationships
Because the signs of abuse might be unrecognizable at first, any important relationship should be evaluated periodically to ensure you’re building healthy connections.
- Open communication and active listening.
- Respect for one another’s minds and bodies.
- Trust in one another.
- Honesty, with an appreciation for privacy.
- Personal space when necessary.
- Equality in expectations and decision-making.
- Mutual sexual choices based on consent, comfort, and safety.
- Little communication and frequent fights.
- Disrespect for one another’s minds and bodies.
- Distrust in what one another says or does.
- Dishonesty and lies from one or both parties.
- Little personal space.
- Inequality, with one or both parties believing their desires are more important than the others’.
- Pressure to engage in sexual activity by one or both parties.
- Hurtful communication and insults.
- Harmful treatment of the mind and body of one or both parties.
- Accusations followed by physical or verbal attacks.
- Denial of abusive actions.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Control of one party’s thoughts and actions by the other.
- Forced or nonconsensual sexual activity.
Is this Relationship Abusive?
Understanding where your relationship stands on a scale of healthy to abusive means understanding whether you are safe or not. If any aspect of a typical abusive relationship reminds you of your own relationship, consider the following questions:
- Fear that this person will hurt you?
- Feel worse about yourself since becoming involved with this person?
- Make few decisions in the relationship?
- Make excuses for this person’s behavior?
- Worry about how this person will react to your words and actions?
- Need to ask permission to do things?
- Think disagreements are rarely resolved peacefully?
- Feel uncomfortable with the way this person has touched you or talked to you sexually?
Does this person…
- Act hurt when you spend time with friends and family without them?
- Act possessive?
- Check up on you constantly?
- Prevent you from contacting your friends, family, and support system?
- Limit your involvement in finances?
- Limit your access to money, technology, and vehicles?
- Get angry quickly?
- Call you names, put you down, criticize you, or yell at you?
- Engage in physical violence?
- Manipulate or force you to have sex?
- Withhold or force sex as punishment?
- Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
Myths about domestic violence
Answering “Yes” to the questions above means you may be experiencing abuse. However, common myths about domestic violence might make this hard to believe.
Remember, it is still abuse even if
There isn’t any physical violence
Abuse takes many forms, and being emotionally or verbally attacked can be just as troubling as being physically hurt.
Physical attacks seem minor or infrequent
Any purposeful physical harm is a reason to be concerned. If abusers use physical violence once, they will likely do so again and with more force.
Physical abuse always stops when you become quiet
No one should need to give up the freedom to talk, move, and make decisions to remain safe.
You are the same sex
Though often undiscussed, the LGBTQ community sees rates of domestic violence comparable to the straight community. Abuse in several communities, including the LGBTQ community, communities of undocumented people, people with disabilities, and older adults , are more complicated because of systematic oppression.
You are a man, and your abuser is a woman
Despite the media often portraying women as the only victims of domestic violence, anyone can experience abuse. One in four men report experiencing abuse, but many do not seek help out of fear of looking less masculine or being belittled.
You are not in a romantic relationship
Abuse can occur in any relationship with a power imbalance, including relationships between people with disabilities or older adults with their caretakers.
You still love the person in this relationship
You decided to share your life and family with this person, so of course you want the violence to end without having to leave this person entirely. However, no person deserves to be subjected to abuse and no relationship is healthy when abuse occurs.