Emotional Abuse is more than just yelling

Seems like all I do lately on here is update how things have been lately. I guess this will be another one, with a twist.

Been going through divorce and custody battle (which is HELL), dealing with my baby being gone for the allotted summer visit time, and dealing with memories and emotions of the past… all while trying to get doctor visits, court dates, school, and birthday stuff done all within the last month. I don’t know how parents do this every year. I don’t see how anyone deals with a divorce or having kids with an abuser either. Before, when I was in (more of) denial, I could handle it easy-peasy, lately, seems to be more a struggle… especially since he threw a girlfriend into the works.

The more I deal with life and am reminded of things, the more I see how abusive he was and it becomes harder to deny it. To call it rape? Still haven’t gotten there. Sexual abuse? Financial abuse? Spiritual abuse? Emotional abuse? Yes, on all counts. No person deserves to be controlled the way I was. No one deserves to feel like a sex object or be demanded to do whatever someone wants and then feel guilty when it doesn’t go exactly how they want. Shoot, the other day, I was folding towels and out pops his criticism about how I was folding towels wrong.  Is there really only one way to fold towels? Am I wrong if they are neat and folded and put away? A few years ago, yes… today, hell no!

The one phrase that kept going through my mind today? ‘I am human, I stick my foot in my mouth sometimes, I’m not perfect. I asked for forgiveness, there’s nothing more I can do.’ I have to remind myself I am not perfect because for so long I had to be and I am afraid of not being a perfectionist. Emotional abuse is horrific. It’s not just someone screaming and yelling at you. It’s those who diminish everything you do, criticize you, and make you feel incompetent (among many other things). Sometimes its difficult to understand how things can be so complicated and how so many people don’t see that as Domestic Violence because the person did not hit them.

My ex said all the wrong things in the right tone of voice. He would tell me he loved me in the same sentence he would tell me that I was getting fat or was I sure I wanted to eat that or how I shouldn’t correct him or how I needed to let him be right at least once. I thought it was my fault. I thought I did things horribly wrong. He used to tell me that I was gonna leave him for a younger person, how if we ever got a divorce or separated that he would do anything and everything to get his child, and make comments about the people I dated in my past because they were a different ethnicity. Along with making comments about our daughter not being his, she being the mailman’s (which was a woman) and making other homophobic comments. All of this was “funny” to him. This was his sarcasm. He thought he was so funny. What he didn’t realize was that he was squashing the person I was and trying to mold me into what he wanted.

Even after speaking about my rapes, I asked him not to say comments about sexual or homophobic comments towards me as they trigger me and make me uncomfortable. His response? I’ll try but I cannot promise anything. Before I dealt with being raped by my female abuser, I used to lay in bed worried that I was gonna talk in my sleep about it, that he was gonna find out about what happened and blame me. I was going to go to my grave with her abuse because of the comments he made towards me. Eventually, he told me as his wife, he had a right to know about my abuse, then when I wrote it for him to read, he told me that he didn’t need to know because he knew how to handle rape victims (he used to be a cop), which was an obvious lie.

Who speaks to their spouse this way? Who thinks this is appropriate? A narcissist, controller, manipulator, abuser.

If anyone reading this has been put down by their partner and they think they have a right as your partner, please know that is not the case. The more I hear about guys and the games and relationship issues, the more I realize that I have no time or energy to deal with bull ish. After years and years of abuse, I realize that I do NOT have to settle for whoever looks my way. I am a loved individual, just like everyone else, and no matter who or what gets in my way, as long as I push forward in my healing and speak my mind when something bothers me, I can get to a better place… we all can! We don’t have to live this life silenced or confined into someone else’s mold of us. Speaking up is difficult, but so worth it in the long run.

I have never been more relieved to be away from my ex. I feel bad for his new girlfriend, but am relieved that the majority of the abuse has finally stopped… now if I can just get through this divorce in one piece 🙂

Reported my Abuser… Plus, Divorcing Another Abuser

It’s been a while since I have posted on there. It’s been a few crazy months for me.

First off, the month of April was filled with talking to prosecutor secretaries, making phone calls, reporting my abuser in the police station, meeting with a detective, digging out evidence I had of other abuse she did over a decade ago and so much more! I still do now know where the case against K is going, but I do feel loads better reporting her to the authorities, especially after they confirmed things with others who were around at that same time. For so long, I knew this little boy’s name (another one she abused), but never thought that they would FIND him and he CONFIRM IT. Obviously the cop couldn’t say much… wish I knew how the case ends, but its only been a few months.

May was full of divorce and attorney crap. I am currently divorcing (yet another) abuser that I had been married to for about 5 years. I never realized the things he was doing was abusive until speaking to my friends (finally after years of silence). He is trying for custody of our child and has pushed the divorce proceedings back for another few months. So I was dealing with possible court dates and trying to come to an agreement before we spent MORE money! Nothing was accomplished.

Now, it’s June, and my baby is with her dad for Summer visitation. Definitely something I will have to get used to. Had someone today tell me “secretly every mother is jealous of you right now.” I’m like what the hell kind of crap is that?! IF YOU EVEN KNEW WHAT I WAS REALLY GOING THROUGH. Bitch shut your mouth!

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been dealing with. And in the process, I have been trying to understand what my ex has done. So far, I have comprehended… emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and spiritual abuse. I am still in denial about most of it, but I can feel the effects of what he has done. My friends told me that they knew he was abusive, but they didn’t realize he was THIS abusive.

I have a headache right now, but I do want to delve deeper into all of this on a different time.

Two years ago, I started dealing with being raped by my first boyfriend. I am still astounded about how different my life is and how much abuse I see that I have endured since that time. Life after rape… Yeah, that about says it all! I may be lost, but I am so much better than I was!

Choosing to Move Forward

It’s been a while since I have been on here. Guess it’s time for a little update on my life.

  1. Started therapy in September
  2. Reported my second rape in October
  3. Separated and filed for divorce in November
  4. Been trying to deal with my first rape.

victim decide to survive

Months ago, I decided that I needed to stop playing games and choose to move forward whether it be with my family or not. As I am sure I mentioned, I spent the Summer in the hospital because of suicidal thoughts that I couldn’t escape. My life was going nowhere and I felt so trapped. I wasn’t in a good place at all. Once I started therapy in September, I realized that this was my time to fight. No more getting walked on, no more hiding my pain, no more “playing nice”. I needed to become healthy and that includes healthy relationships.

When I decided this, I thought I would lose my mom as she was toxic, but I soon realized that my husband was more toxic. Every time I would take a step in the right direction, he would pull me back 4 steps. This was no good. The constant circles and the bickering were killing me inside.

I remember sitting outside in my car so determined to finally report my rape. Days later, another argument about things we talked about for a whole year and a half. That was when I decided that my marriage came second and I came first. I was more worried about losing myself again than losing my marriage. Maybe my husband could see that because that was when things just started crumbling.

I honestly cant remember when or how I went to the police station to report but I did. The women’s center lady came with me and it was done within 30 minutes. I still haven’t heard back from them, but I am not so worried about that right now. At least it is filed. I have been trying to do that for a year and have been kicking myself for not speaking up for 8 years. So it was about time.

To be honest, I think that my marriage ended the way it did because I would not have sex with my husband once. I have only turned him down twice in 5 years, and both times he threw a fit saying “Let me know when I can touch MY WIFE” and proceeding to leave or sleep on the couch. If anyone has been a victim, they know that sometimes flashbacks and nightmares mess things up in your head. He couldn’t understand that. All he knew was that he spent all this money and did all this stuff for our date night, only to get no sex.

I see my therapist every Tuesday and most of the time we are and were talking about things that happened within our marriage. I have realized a lot wrong with my marriage and things I need to work on. But I have also realized that I deserve better and my husband is unwilling to do that, no matter how many times he NOW begs to get back together, after HE filed for divorce (which he blames on his sister).

But besides that, every now and then, I am able to speak of my first rape. We had some issues where she pissed me off at one point, but we got past it. And in the last few days, I have been dealing with the blame I still have in my first rape. I am still not quite sure how grooming works and I am working on it, but it is very difficult.

{If anyone has found any good articles on Grooming, I would love to read them.}

Today, my brother been on my case about how I deal with my rapes and divorce. Eh, maybe I will create a whole new post on this topic as it is still on going and I am not exactly sure what he means by my current divorce affects how I blame myself with my first rape. Interesting concept, right? We’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll go into more detail later about things, but this is more generally what’s been going on.

Anyway, thank you for reading.

I am sooo confused!

I sit here looking at my life wondering where it all went wrong? I keep running in my head the last few conversations I had with my husband and wonder where I am supposed to go from here. I mean, once you hit rock bottom, is there any way up? Is change possible if no change is allowed? Do people change after getting married, and should I feel guilty for changing towards a healtier self? Am I really healthy if I am no better off than I was months ago? … WHO KNOWS!

In our last conversations, he made some pretty confusing statements, and this is what I have taken from them…

  • “I hate that ring” — He didn’t stop me from buying the ring, but I guess I was supposed to know by him practically pushing me out the car when I didn’t want to give up my original wedding ring.
  • “Sometimes I don’t like touching you [there]. I think it has to do with our age difference, in fact, I know it does.” — He has no problems being intimate or fathering a child by me, but touching me must revile him?
  • “I didn’t want to pressure you or make you feel like I was pressuring you to sign for the car.” — In fact, he didn’t say a word. They threw out numbers and he sat there chill, not having any type of communication, which in turn made me feel like there was more pressure on me to sign the car or not… but as he sees it, I turned it around on him.
  • “We just see things differently and always will.” — Right after a conversation where he yelled at me because I wanted our daughter to be put in her booster, like the law says. Apparently, I was yelling and he was tired of it.

There are others, those are just some that have been on my mind lately. {sigh}

Seeing the Effects Rape has Caused

Sorry I haven’t been on here in a while. I have been dealing with personal issues that have truly crippled the person I used to be before dealing with being a rape victim. It turns out that I was able to manage life (however much in denial I was) before I defined it as rape. Now that I am a victim, I see how much it  has truly affected my life and how upside down I feel most days.

See, I met my husband four years ago. I told him back then there was something that happened with my first boyfriend, but I could never call it rape, he did. In fact, I remember that “something” affecting how I reacted to guys when it was brought up again. I’m not proud of how I reacted, but I was trying to protect myself. Anyways, when I told him back then, he didn’t push me into the intimacy part of a new relationship (like every single guy before him did). I was comfortable with him and fell in love with him. We married six months later.

Turns out we were having difficulties for a while, but I was never strong enough to stand up for myself (or I thought that was how I was supposed to be as a girlfriend, wife, mother). So when I started to isolate myself and do things other than what he had been used to, it really aggravated him. Would tell me I am changing. That if I just got off of my support group, then things would be back to normal, etc. None of that was a key to a healthy relationship as I started to see that we didn’t have a healthy relationship.

About three or four weeks ago, I started having multiple panic attacks a day for five days until the “big” one came. I literally was lying on the dining room floor so dizzy and ready to pass out, crying my eyes out, barely able to breathe because the thought of moving to a different state with all of my marital problems put me in a tailspin. Needless to say, the hubby has not been supportive at all. It took him until I reached my breaking point before he would see that things NEEDED to change or we wouldn’t make it.

I reached the point where I literally thought “too little too late”. The thought of death was more appealing than living how I was living or putting my child through a divorce. I still wonder if it is a better option, but I know that I could never kill myself (and I thank God for that). My faith and my fear of dying has held me up when nothing else would. Not that I have practiced my faith, but what I do know helped me not give up when all else failed me.

I often wonder if my husband is doing all of this because I told him things have to change, if he is doing it because he is afraid to lose his daughter (not me), or if he is doing it because he is afraid of another failed marriage. Either way, he is trying, and I feel like I need to let him try… even though he’s had many chances and things get good, and then turn sour quickly. I really don’t know if I will make it through another one of those episodes. He told me after four years of marriage that he finally took down some wall he had up in our marriage. I was like what the heck?! You think I set you up because I didn’t tell you all my problems before we married and you have a WALL up???

Anyways, I say all of this because it truly has made me see how my past has affected my present. It pains me to see the effects. It’s not like I can go back to being in denial about our issues, I just have to find a way to work with them or walk away. And last thing anyone wants to do is walk away. I love my husband, but I need support. He can tell I am depressed. I’ve been depressed for a while now. Even while writing this, I am in a fog… distancing myself from any kind of real emotion and just overwhelmed with the thought of pushing forward to heal. It’s sad. I really am an optimistic woman. I’ve just been torn down so much that I feel myself protecting myself from anything… like I am the one with the barricade around my heart not letting anything in, until I am ready.

I really love being inspirational and sharing information on this blog, but I thought I’d share a little bit about what I am going through lately. None of it has been easy. I am still going through counseling, finally scheduled my depression evaluation (just in case meds could help me get a hold of things for now — never permanently — hate meds really, but I NEED HELP), and am searching other avenues to help me heal.

What ways have helped you through your journey?

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Many victims of rape (ok maybe not many, but definitely I), have struggled with relationships and finding a healthy relationship with healthy boundaries. I have noticed the problems within my own life in the last few days and have had much anxiety about all of it. I told a friend that I would look into abusive relationships. This happened to be shared by a friend a few months before. I thought I would share it here. (And again, I wish I knew who wrote this, as it has helped me tremendously tonight).

And here are charts that I found that seem to simplify what this article has written – labmf.org/facts/relationships

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.

SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP

Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings
Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior

Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats
Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:

  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?

Does your partner:

  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?

Physical abuse and domestic violence

When people talk about domestic violence, they are often referring to the physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse

Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.

It Is Still Abuse If . . .

  • The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.
  • The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
  • The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!
  • There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.

Source: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska (PDF)

Emotional abuse: It’s a bigger problem than you think

When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.

Understanding emotional abuse

The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so.

Economic or financial abuse: A subtle form of emotional abuse

Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so. Economic or financial abuse includes:

  • Rigidly controlling your finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Making you account for every penny you spend.
  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Restricting you to an allowance.
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.

Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power:

  • 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 or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you’re worthless and that no one else will want you, you’re less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
  • Isolation – In order to increase your dependence on him or her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.
  • Threats – Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.
  • Intimidation – Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don’t obey, there will be violent consequences.
  • Denial and blame – Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is your fault.

Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time.

  • Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
  • Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior.
  • They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
  • Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
  • Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.

The cycle of violence in domestic abuse

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

  • Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”
  • Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.
  • Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • “Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
  • Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
  • Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service

Recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence and abuse

It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.

General warning signs of domestic abuse

People who are being abused may:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does.
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.
  • Warning signs of physical violence

People who are being physically abused may:

  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long
  • sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
  • Warning signs of isolation

People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
  • Rarely go out in public without their partner.
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.
  • The psychological warning signs of abuse

People who are being abused may:

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
  • Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Ask if something is wrong.
  • Express concern.
  • Listen and validate.
  • Offer help.
  • Support his or her decisions.

Don’t:

  • Wait for him or her to come to you.
  • Judge or blame.
  • Pressure him or her.
  • Give advice.
  • Place conditions on your support.

Adapted from NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned.
Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.

Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.

Understanding domestic violence and abuse

  • In the U.S., call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
  • UK: call Women’s Aid at 0808 2000 247.
  • Canada: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-363-9010
  • Australia: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 200 526
  • Or visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a worldwide list of helplines, shelters, and crisis centers.

Male victims of abuse can call:

  • In the US, The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women specializes in supporting male victims of abuse and offers a 24-hour helpline: 1-888-7HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754)
  • UK: ManKind Initiative offers a national helpline at 01823 334244.
  • Australia: One in Three Campaign offers help and resources for male victims.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.