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What Is Domestic Abuse?

What is abuse?

Domestic abuse is not always about violence, it is about control. This not only includes physical violence but other types of abuse such as verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, emotional/psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, isolation and false allegations.

Abuse can happen to any women or man, no matter what background, age, job, race or religion, who are or have been intimate partners or are family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable.

Physical abuse includes pushing, shoving, slapping, kicking, punching, hitting, spitting, pinching, pulling hair, choking, throwing things, hitting victims with an object, and using or threatening to use a weapon.

Sexual abuse is forced unwanted sex, demanding the partner wear more (or less) provocative clothing; forced sex in any form; insisting the partner act out fantasies, and denial of the partner’s sexuality.

Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behaviour involving the use of language (criticizing, name-calling, put downs threatening, blaming). It differs from profanity in that it can occur without the use of expletives. Verbal abuse is a pattern of behaviour that can seriously interfere with one’s positive emotional development and over time, can lead to significant detriment to one’s self-esteem, emotional well-being and physical state. Verbal abuse, although not visibly apparent, is damaging nonetheless.

Financial abuse occurs when you are not allowed to have money or any control over money. This could include running up large debts in your name or selling your possessions without permission. Your partner may keep you accountable for any money spent, approving or disapproving of your spending. It could also mean you are not allowed to have a job so you are dependent on your partner for money and survival.

Isolation occurs when you are isolated from your family, friends, and community as a way for your partner to stay in control. Your partner may be extremely jealous of any contacts you have, forbid you to have contact with anyone, or monitor your phone calls, mail or daily activities. Sometimes your partner may use intimidation or threats to control you. You may have to be accountable for your time away or have to make excuses for leaving the home. You may have to communicate secretly when your partner is absent.

Emotional/psychological abuse can cause anxiety and depression and cause you to withdraw from everyone or everything around you. Examples of this type of abuse include insulting your family or friends, ridiculing your beliefs, race or religion, using constant put downs, threatening suicide if you leave, keeping you prisoner in your home, threatening to take the children if you leave and threatening to have you deported

Harassment and Stalking You may suffer harassment or stalking from a current from a current or ex partner.  This may be, being followed, being threatened, unwanted telephone calls, texts, emails or contact through any social media (i.e. facebook or twitter).  This will have a negative impact on your emotional and psychological well-being.


Abuse at home that doesn’t stop

Abuse rarely happens as a one-off incident. Usually there is a pattern, or cycle, of abuse in which the victim is mistreated, then made to feel loved until the abuse begins again.

Very often victims feel unable to talk about it because the abuser puts pressure on them to “keep quiet” or threatens the victim with further violence. Also, being abused can make a person feel worthless and ashamed, so it can be difficult to talk to anyone about it.

Abuse can affect young people even if they are not being directly abused themselves. Simply witnessing abuse can have a traumatising effect.

What are the consequences of domestic violence and abuse?

  • Abuse can have long-term psychological effects on victims and on young people.
  • Abusive situations at home are often complicated, traumatic and destructive.

But there is plenty of help available to those affected by domestic violence and abuse.