Domestic or spousal abuse is tragically all too common, and in the vast majority of cases, the abuse creeps up gradually on the victim. Beginning with small acts of over-protective behaviour and worrying incidents which are written off as one-offs, in time, the cycle of abuse is established and accepted as the norm. If you are worried that a partner is becoming abusive, you don't need to suffer in silence. There are a number of organisations that are on hand to help you out and get you away from a dangerous situation. Women's Aid 0808 2000 247 and ManKind Initiative 01823 334 244
How to recognise the signs of abuse
Abuse can be emotional, physical, or sexual - or often a combination of all three. Verbal abuse is just as serious as physical threats, causing a different kind of damage. Abuse commonly takes these forms in the early stages -
- Rigid control of finances - leading to the withdrawal of bank and credit cards
- Restricting you to an allowance, which has to be accounted for in full
- Dictating your career path by blocking employment or education opportunities
- Causing problems for you at work - such as making you miss days, calling and checking on you constantly during working hours
- Stealing from you
Answer these questions honestly. How do you feel?
- Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?
- Do you avoid mentioning certain people or topics of conversation?
- Do you feel that your behaviour deserves to be punished?
- Do you feel helpless and unable to explain why you are so unhappy?
- Do you sometimes think your ideas about being abused are crazy, and no one will believe you?
Daily control by your partner
- Would you describe your partner as jealous or possessive?
- Do you feel your partner is controlling where you go and what you do - such as your job and friendships
- Does your partner stop you from seeing friends and family as much as you would like to?
- Is your access to money and assets (such as phones and cars) limited?
- Is your access to these assets dependent on your agreeing to sex or other threats?
- Does your partner constantly check up on your movements?
How does your partner treat you?
- Does your partner ever shout at you?
- Does your partner criticise your opinions?
- Does your partner make you embarrassed to spend time with friends or family?
- Has your partner blamed you for them losing their temper?
- Does your partner treat you as their property or a sex object?
Abusive actions you have experienced
- Has your partner threatened to harm or kill you?
- Has your partner threatened to harm or kill your loved ones, such as children?
- Has your partner threatened to harm themselves, or commit suicide, if you leave?
- Have you been forced into sex?
- Have any of your belongings been destroyed?
- Have you been injured seriously enough to require medical treatment?
Look for these signs if you are worried a friend or family member is being abused
- Apologising for their partner's unacceptable behaviour
- Constantly reporting their movements to their partner when away from them
- Receiving multiple calls from their partner, especially if becoming harassing in tone.
- Describing their possessiveness or jealousy
- Having injuries, which are blamed on accidents
- Missing work or social occasions
- Dressing oddly for the weather - hiding signs of abuse with long sleeves etc.
- Having limited money
- Rarely being seen without their partner
In isolation, there can be reasonable explanations for people acting differently than they have before, but if several of these points match, there is a strong likelihood that an abusive relationship is forming or is already established. So don't keep quiet; call the experts or the police in urgent circumstances.