An abusive relationship is a relationship in which one of the partners exhibits a pattern of using coercive and controlling behavior. Both current and former partners can be victims of abuse. Abuse includes not only violent behaviors, such as hitting, but sexual, emotional, psychological and even financial threats and actions that seek to control another.
What is Relationship Abuse?
Any time you are being threatened by a current or former partner in order to control you, this is an abusive relationship. Studies show that abuse tends to escalate over time.
It is Important to Remember that if You Are Being Abused, it is not Your Fault
If you are being abused by your partner, you may begin to feel that you deserve this treatment. You may also feel trapped. These are normal reactions to abusive behavior, but you are never responsible for your partner's abusive behavior.
Abusive Behavior is Always a Matter of Choice
Another trap that you may fall into is blaming your partner's behavior on drugs, stress, or alcohol. Again, dating and relationship abuse is not caused by these outside factors, but by the abusive partner's need to control you.
The Mayo Clinic provides the following guidelines on what is an abusive relationship:
"Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
Prevents you from going to work or school
Stops you from seeing family members or friends
Tries to control how you spend money, where you go or what you wear
Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
Threatens you with violence or a weapon
Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it" (Source: Mayo Clinic)
If any of these things are happening to you, it is important to know that you are not to blame, and that you are not alone. Start to create a plan for getting out of the relationship:
1) Tell a friend, relative or doctor about the relationship.
2) Call a Domestic Abuse Hotline to get counseling from people who care. 1?800?799?SAFE(7233) or TTY 1?800?787?3224.
3)Create a safety plan:
-call when your partner is away
-guard your communication -- call from a phone booth or other location where your call cannot be traced
-use your cellphone cautiously, as numbers you call can be found by your abuser.
-use a computer away from home, at the public library, at a friend or relative's house, or at work
Remember, you can get help and you are not alone!