Abuse can take on many forms: physical, sexual, emotional. Sometimes it's not so obvious, and by the time you become aware of the situation you may be too worn down to act. If you are experiencing any of the below:
control (financial, social, sexual),
not being treated as an equal,
not having your boundaries respected,
fearing your partner,
treading on egg shells,
abrupt changes in mood,
obsessive and possessive behaviour,
you are probably in the receiving end of abuse.
People who abuse their partners do not always behave in such a way, especially not in the beginning of the relationship - they often start as charming and seductive. The relationship may progress too quickly and intensely. You may find yourself isolated from friends, and doubting your own instincts. He play victim, and you may be compelled to rescue - as this is in our nature. He may control your time, your decisions, your actions or your money. You may believe that you are to blame for what is not working in the relationship and that a lot of it is your responsibility.
It's not hard to become trapped in abusive relationship. The abuse may leave people feeling so demoralised, broken down and weakened that they are unable to properly protect themselves from the abuser. The state of their emotional world is such, that it hinders them from making any decisions to their benefit. They subdue their own anger out of enraging their abuser.
Their friends tell them-off for not: "doing something about it” and “getting out of the relationship”. This makes things worse by further wearing them down through criticism and eroding their self-esteem. The support and understanding they need is often that is hard to get. And don't forget, people don't "choose" to be in abusive relationships, they find themselves in them, and by the time they realise the truth of the matter, it's often too late to get out. Furthermore, it's not even a matter of choice about leaving the relationship. It is often very hard to leave, for a variety of reasons, and people often make many failed attempts to leave. Some of the reasons that prohibit abuse victims from leaving these very harmful relationships can be:
fear (children, revenge, e.t.c.)
childhood history of witnessing abuse
lack of self-esteem
belief that they cannot cope on their own
Reaching out for help, whether it is from friends or from organisations and professionals, is hard to achieve, as this requires some kind of inner strength as well as acceptance that they are in an abusive and harmful relationship. Often the victim of abuse would prefer to deny to themselves that they are in such a relationship , or that things really are “that bad”. Perhaps they have a high threshold for pain and suffering, perhaps they put other peoples’ needs first. Very often they are made to believe that they are to blame for the treatment they are receiving and for being in such a relationship. If they do manage to tell their friends, they may hear them saying to “get out of it”, “why are they still in it”, “why have they not done anything about it”. This makes them feel worse about themselves and what’s more, in some perverse way, continues the abuser’s work of demoralising, weakening and breaking down of that person. Trapped in a place of fear and submission, shame and powerlessness, eroding all sense of self, falling deeper and deeper in isolation, which may seal their fete.
Friends can help by listening, helping them acknowledge their feelings, improve their sense of self-worth through praise and acknowledgement, help them find their voice, help them to engage with their anger so they can stand up for themselves.
Abusive relationships are destructive. Lets not forget that often the abusers are also pain. But they cannot be helped by collusion, by going along with rules of their game, by playing “rescuer” to the “victim”, by giving in to their demands for full attention, “otherwise…”. The only way to end this is to stop the cycle of abuse.
If you are experiencing abuse and you need help and advice, here are some useful websites: