Anyone may find themselves in an abusive relationship. It has nothing to do with age, financial status, religion or race. It can happen within both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships. The vast majority of those abused are women but men can also find themselves in an abusive relationship.
What are the signs that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship? It may be easy to identify signs of physical abuse, but it is far more difficult to recognise that a person dropping out of activities or isolating themselves may also be a sign of abuse in a relationship.
Abusive behaviour is when one party in a relationship attempts to control and dominate the other. This includes emotional and psychological abuse and can include, or escalate to, physical abuse, which is then termed domestic violence.
Emotional or psychological abuse includes your partner – or abuser – doing the following:
- Keeping track of your movements
- Preventing you from seeing friends or family
- Showing anger, jealousy and possessiveness by, for example, accusing you of having affairs or flirting
- Constantly humiliating, demeaning or insulting you
- Controlling you by, for example, deciding what you wear, or who you see
- Preventing you from working or having control over your own finances
An abusive partner is often unpredictable – you don’t know when they will lose their temper or suddenly change their mood. They may blame you by saying it is your fault that they are abusive, and that you don't support them enough.
Emotional and psychological abuse can lead to depression and low self-worth, and very often spirals into acts of violence.
Physical abuse is not only slapping, punching or throwing things. It can also include:
- Locking a partner out of the home, or placing them in dangerous situations
- Refusing to help a partner when they are injured, sick or pregnant
- Threatening to kill their partner, or themselves