An abusive relationship, often known as domestic violence, occurs when one person in the relationship tries to dominate or control the other person. The abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial or psychological and can include threats, seclusion and pressure.
Signs of Abuse
Injuries, absences from work or school, harassing calls from a spouse, fear of the spouse, personality changes, isolation from family and friends, depression, low self-esteem and fear of conflict are signs of an abusive relationship.
Identification of Abuse
Not all abusive relationships begin with violence. Abuse can begin gradually without a spouse realizing what is happening. An abuser may insult his spouse, stop her from seeing family or friends, try to control the family finances,where the spouse goes and what she wears; act jealous or possessive; threaten her with violence; force her to have sex or put blame on her for his violent behavior.
Patterns of Abuse
Abusers in a relationship often follow a pattern. The abuser abuses his spouse then feels guilty about it. He will make excuses for his behavior and tries to keep the relationship together. The abuser will start planning another attack and then follow through with the plan and start abusing his spouse again.
Breaking the Cycle
If you are in an abusive relationship, try getting out by telling someone or getting help at an abusive relationship hotline. With the support of someone who knows about the abuse, it will be easier and safer to get out of the relationship. As a precaution, wait to call someone when the abuser is not around, pack an emergency bag and know where to go to get away quickly when it is necessary.
For more information or to report abuse call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233). A doctor, local women's shelter, counseling or mental health center, or a court can also help.