No one should have to tolerate abuse in a domestic relationship. However, too often, abused spouses or partners feel trapped and isolated, believe that they have nowhere to turn, or even sympathize with their abusers.
Abuse surfaces in different ways. Physical, emotional and financial abuse are among them. Victims of domestic abuse must identify that their lives may be in jeopardy, make a plan to escape and work on rebuilding their lives.
Verbal, physical and psychological abuse
Vacillating between leaving and staying in the abusive relationship is not uncommon. However, you must understand that your priority is your personal safety. Here are some of the types of abuse that occur in domestic relationships:
- Verbal abuse: The taunts, name-calling and criticism belittle victims and lower their self esteem.
- Physical abuse: Insecure bullies resort to punches, choking and slapping to instill their dominance over victims.
- Emotional abuse: Your abuser attempts to prevent you from seeing your friends and relatives, disregards or invalidates your feelings and thoughts, insists you are having an affair, or tries to control your life.
- Psychological abuse: This occurs when an abuser threatens, breaks promises and controls what the victim says and does.
- Economic/financial abuse: This may include taking your money, failing to provide access to family financial information and insisting you account for everything you buy.
- Sexual abuse: The victim is considered the “property” of the abuser who can do anything he or she wants by demanding and forcing sex, preventing you from using birth control and recording such encounters without your permission.
The likelihood that your spouse or partner will change is low. He or she likely will continue to make promises to do better and to stop the abuse. However, you have heard this all before. Now you must take action. Prepare an escape plan, go over it with your children and practice it. It is not a matter of if you leave, it is when.
Start by assembling a list of emergency phone numbers of trusted people, the police department, a domestic abuse shelter and your children’s school. Seek out a neighbor’s home where you may escape before getting to a domestic abuse shelter. Also, gather an emergency bag with items such as clothing, important documents, cash and medications.
Healthy relationships include respect and acceptance
Understand that it is going to be difficult to get out of this relationship. For years, you may have been isolated from family and friends, while also being threatened, belittled and financially controlled. But taking those initial and crucial steps of leaving, finding safety and independence, are worth it. Follow them through to resolution. You have every right to live without fear. Healthy relationships have many attributes, including respect, happiness and acceptance.