Is it abuse?
Many women ring up Women’s Refuge and start with “I don’t know if this is abuse but…” or they say “He’s not hitting me but…..”. We would say trust your intuition, go with your own feelings. If something does not feel right to you, then it’s not ok.
But how do you know if it’s just a bad relationship or if it’s that the other person is abusing you? You need to look at what the other person is doing, how that affects you, how it makes you feel and the balance of power in your relationship.
Do you feel:
- Like you are walking on eggshells most of the time?
- Like you are stupid / mad / worthless?
- Tired because you work so hard to keep them happy?
- Sick with worry about what you might have done wrong?
- Like you’re going crazy because you never know what to expect?
- Worried about the effect that their behaviour is having on the children?
- Concerned that the abuse stops you being the mother you want to be?
- Angry or scared to say what you want?
- Like you have no freedom or control of your life?
- Like you want to hurt your partner or yourself?
- Guilty and ashamed about what is happening?
The above are some of the common feelings experienced by women who are being abused. There is no right or wrong way to feel – you may feel many different and confusing things.
Does your partner or someone in your family:
- Get jealous easily? Blame you for making them jealous?
- Try to control what you wear / how you look / what you do?
- Make it hard for you to leave the house or hold down a job?
- Not like you having your own friends? Make it difficult for you to keep in touch with your whanau / family?
- Always want to know everywhere you have been?
- Make you account for every cent you spend?
- Threaten you if you leave or try to get help?
- Threaten to kill you, your children or themselves?
- Hurt your pets?
- Smash your things?
- Keep putting you down? Call you horrible names?
- Stop you sleeping?
- Make you have sex or do sexual acts when you don’t want to?
- Say that you’re crazy / mad / stupid?
- Tell you that it’s a women’s job to obey men and look after the family?
If the answer is YES to one, SOME or ALL of these questions, then the relationship you are in is unhealthy and abusive. It is important for you to know that no one deserves to be treated abusively.
Relationships are not supposed to make you feel worse about yourself or scared. Getting out of an abusive or violent relationship isn’t easy. Maybe you’re still hoping that things will change or you’re afraid of what your partner will do if he discovers you’re trying to leave. Whatever your reasons, you probably feel trapped and helpless. But help is available. You deserve to live free of fear. Start by reaching out.
If you are in an abusive relationship and want some help, contact us by phone on 0800REFUGE (0800 733 843)