There are many signs that signify a relationship could have grown to be abusive, some more obvious than others. It’s important to remember domestic abuse can be inflicted in more than one way and in various combinations physically, sexually and/or emotionally. So, it’s a good idea to know what you should be looking for, on behalf of yourself or your friends. Somebody in an abusive relationship might:
– Look mentally and physically exhausted
– Have started to change the way they look
– Hide information from their partner in a panic they will get angry
– Feel they can’t do anything right
– No longer participate in things they enjoy
– Spends less time with their friends and family
– Clock watch and make sure they are home at a certain time
– Be rapidly losing their confidence
– Have a jealous or over possessive partner
Domestic abuse is mostly experienced by women; however, it can also impact children and men too. It often includes a repeated pattern of controlling, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, as well as sexual violence. Incidents are rarely isolated and can escalate in frequency and severity over time. People experiencing domestic abuse may have experienced or be experiencing the following:
– Physical abuse
– Emotional abuse
– Sexual abuse
– Harassment / stalking
– Online or digital abuse
– Coercive control
You can also find out more about what’s involved in these different kinds of abuse here.
It is possible for people to change, but altering long-standing habits and routine behaviour ultimately takes time and, above all, relies on a willingness on the perpetrator’s behalf to change. There are also ways people displaying abusive behaviour can find to support them to change, including attending a certified abusive intervention program that focuses on behaviour, reflection and accountability for their actions.
In the long run, however, it can also be found that many victims of domestic abuse find it difficult to trust their partners moving forward and that not all routine behaviour of the abuser has been addressed. So, while we would all hope an abusive partner can change their behaviour and patterns of abuse, it’s not always achievable or realistic to expect them to do so.
People experiencing domestic abuse need to be able to focus on themselves and change things they can control. No one deserves to be abused and it’s never too late to seek help. Everyone deserves to feel happy, safe and loved.
Abusers often tend to blame the people they are abusing for their actions, but it’s important to remember that it is NEVER the fault of the person who is being abused. Blaming the other person helps an abuser to avoid responsibility for their behaviour, but it is always their fault.
People end up living in an abusive situation for many different reasons, and should never be made to feel any blame if they don’t feel able to change things. Working to truly understand the challenges people experiencing abuse feel are against them is the first step towards helping them to leave safely whenever they might feel the time is right.
Reasons people might decide to stay include:
People fleeing abusive relationships are at risk of – and do – die, leading many to worry that they may be killed. Most women who end up getting killed by an ex-partner die in the first four weeks of a relationship ending. Some people also fear that no one will believe them if or when they do tell someone else.
A lot of people in abusive relationships are told repeatedly that the abuse they receive is the result of something they are or aren’t doing. They can come to believe that they are at fault and if they could only stop doing things to annoy their abuser, the abuse would stop.
Low Self Esteem
Lack of confidence is a common side effect of abuse. Being constantly undermined or told you are worthless will erode anyone’s confidence and can result in them feeling literally incapable of making decisions.
In some families, the idea of separation from a life partner might not be ‘the done thing’, or a person might be worried about the reaction of the wider community or others who are a part of their culture or faith, if they choose to leave.
Making someone feel alone or isolated is one of the most common ways a person can stay in control of another. Cutting someone off from the outside world gives them less opportunity to consider what is happening to them or to seek help.
Hope and Love
Sometimes the abusive person might promise to change, or change for a period of time before the abuse starts again. The person being abused may have been, or continue to be, in love with their abuser, which can be very confusing for them.
People in abusive relationships may worry they could lose their children, or their children might be hurt, if they leave. They may have received threats by their partner alluding to this happening if they do, or believe that their children are better off if the family unit stays together under one roof. They may not realise children can still be affected by abuse, even if they don’t see it.
Someone might be desperate to leave an abusive situation but feel completely powerless to do so without any money behind them, or feel that legally they have no option due to their immigration status, for example.
Local authorities have a duty to find accommodation for anyone removing themselves from violence, or the threat of violence. People also stay with friends or family members until they find somewhere else to live. Vale DAS itself has a refuge, a Dispersed Housing Project, a Tenant Support Scheme and various other services to help those at risk of or experiencing violence find alternative accommodation. You can find out more about what’s available to help you here.
The Vale DAS team is here to give hope to anyone subjected to domestic abuse, sexual violence or any other kind of violence that life can be different. We’re not here to judge or make any decisions for you. We will always support you, whatever you decide to do.
Vale DAS has a refuge built to accommodate five women and their children, an Outreach service to help plan for safety, a Tenant Support scheme providing support with housing, a counselling service, an Advocacy team to help in court situations, support services for children and young people escaping violence, and a lot more.
Ultimately, we are here to help anyone experiencing abuse feel safer, have an improved understanding of themselves, and are informed and feel able to make informed choices.
More information on all of the ways we are here to support you can be found here.
Since Clare’s Law was passed in 2014, it is now possible to ask police to share details of a person’s history with you, if they have been convicted of offences previously, and should they have good reason to share that information with you.