If you think that you are being abused, it is important that you know where to turn to, to access the support that you need. Your partner does not have the right to mentally and physically dominate and control you. You and your children deserve to live in safety and without fear.
Recognising the Signs
Abuse is not always clear cut. Many people who are suffering abuse believe that their relationship is normal, because their abuser has led them to believe this. If you think you may be experiencing domestic abuse, it can help if you are able to recognise some of the main signs. Ask yourself some of these questions about your relationship:
- Is your partner possessive or jealous?
- Are you belittled, humiliated, insulted or has your self-confidence been undermined by your partner?
- Does s/he try to control your possessions or finances?
- Have you become isolated from your friends as a result of your relationship?
- Do they raise their voice to you?
- Has s/he physically hurt you or your children?
- Have they damaged any of your other possessions, such as furniture?
These are just a few of the signs of domestic abuse. Answering yes to any of these questions could be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship.
What to do if you think you are being abused
Always remember that domestic violence is a crime in the United Kingdom, regardless of whether you and your partner were born here. You do not need to deal with this on your own.
Around a quarter of all women in this country are abused by a partner at least once in their lifetime, but this does not mean that it is acceptable. There are support networks available to help people who want to escape from their circumstances.
The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 2000 247. You can even call on Christmas Day if you need to talk to someone about your situation. All calls are confidential and you will be offered non-judgmental support and advice. They will not force you to do anything that you don’t want to do, but they will help to explain the options that are available to you.
If you feel like you are in immediate danger, call 999 to speak to the police or seek medical attention. They have a duty to investigate your circumstances. They can also offer access to safe accommodation and protection from your abuser.
What to remember about abuse
Abuse is never your fault. Your abuser may try to convince you that you deserve what you get, or that it would not have happened if you had not made a mistake. However, this strategy is all part of the cycle of abuse. Violent behaviour is the choice of the abuser, not a request from the abused. Your partner is always responsible for their violent behaviour. Likewise, you cannot change your partner’s behaviour. It is likely to get worse.
Domestic violence is rarely a one-off circumstance. Most abuse will get gradually worse over time, and the happy periods in between each incident of abuse are likely to get less frequent.
Leaving an abusive relationship is always difficult, and it is something that you must be in control of. Nobody will force you to leave your relationship if you do not feel like you are ready to make a move yet. Take one step at a time if you are finding it difficult. You can contact support agencies and the National Domestic Violence Helpline as often as you need to.