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Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is more common than people wish to imagine, however, a quarter of our female population is affected by domestic violence in their lifetime. We all recognise that violence is not only becoming more prevalent, but also more accepted as being part of life. What we fail to recognise is the ever growing problem of domestic abuse within relationships.

What is domestic abuse?

An abusive relationship is one where one partner uses various behaviours and tactics to gain and maintain control over their partner. The abusive partner uses information from their partners history (relationships, childhood, family problems) to manipulate and ensure control at all times. The dominant partner often changes the goal posts e.g. ‘I want the whole house clean by 4pm’, then turns up at 1pm and finds you having lunch, the perfect excuse to have a go. This keeps their partner on their toes, eager to placate and please to avoid the conflict. Unfortunately this dutiful, compliant and subservient behaviour serves to further empower the abusive partner who continues to assert control, not placate the abuser as intended.

The following are examples of the different types of abuse and the tactics used:

Emotional / Mental / Psychological *often described as the most destructive and damaging type of abuse by survivors – the use of degrading comments and demeaning jokes, humiliation in public, threats to report you to social services, intimidation threats to sleep with your friends, chipping away at your self esteem and self worth, criticism, name calling, giving and taking love away, mind games, confuses you, plays on your insecurities, encourage children to use the same tactics, blames you, they change the goal posts e.g. today they want you to clean the house, tomorrow they want you to leave the mess where it is as you shouldn’t touch hi / her stuff, split behaviours e.g. sudden mood swings, sulking, denies incidents, displays of jealousy.

Physical – hitting, spitting, punching, kicking, pinching, slapping, pulling hair, pushing, physical intimidation, choking, using weapons including household things e.g. remote control, mug, knife, physical contact resulting in injury, sleep deprivation, denying medical attention, food or other necessities, forcing drug or alcohol use against our will, threats of violence, beatings, threats of physical harm, threats to kill you or your children.


Isolation / social – displays of jealousy, isolating you from family and friends, moving you away from them or into a rural area, loses our jobs, convinces us to give up work, college, education or training, takes or refuses to buy us a car, controls all of our communication options e.g. mobile phone contract, has the landline cut off, doesn’t allow internet access, times you when you leave the property, checks the mileage before you leave and when you get back, tells you he has slept with your friends or that he heard them talking about you, falls out with others so that you don’t have a relationship with them, harasses family and friends.
Financial / economic – controls finances and other economic resources, withhold money or spends money on himself, offers token money for food and other necessities, checking the till receipt on your return, doesn’t allow you out on your own, they convince you don’t need others, they restrict access to bank or credit cards, bank accounts etc.

Sexual – Rape, sexual assault, inappropriate touching, painful displays of affection e.g. pinching our breasts or bum in front of others including the children, coercing you into sexual acts you do not want to participate in, forces you to sleep with friends, others, animals and records or takes pictures, sexually degrading comments, turns you down when you initiate sex, sexual harassment or pressure, sexual violence, demands sex any time of the day, demands sex after violence, demands a caesarean so that it doesn’t affect sex, makes sexual advances on our friends and then turns us down.

These behaviours although always unacceptable can be born from fear, fear of losing their partner, fear of relationships, fear of losing themselves. Often the controlling partner has no relationship skills and his behaviour results from fear of the unknown. This does not excuse the behaviour and should not detract from the fact that they can change their behaviour with help if they wish.


Excerpt from my book Emotional First Aid - Life after Domestic Abuse.  To purchase a copy click on the link below