ARE YOU BEING ABUSED?
- Does your partner block an exit to keep you from leaving during an argument? Keep you from seeing friends or family? Use name-calling?
- Does your partner denigrate you in the presence of others? Say no one else would want you? Threaten suicide if you were to leave?
- Do you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” around your partner? Does she act like two different people? (e.g. Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde)
- Does she threaten that if you leave you will never see the children again? Destroy or threaten to destroy your property?
- Have you been shoved, slapped, punched, bitten or kicked? Even once?
- Does your partner anger easily, especially when drinking or on drugs?
If any number of these factors are true in your relationship, there is a problem. Victims of intimate partner violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, incomes, professions, ages and religions. Intimate partner abuse is not always defined by who is the stronger and/or bigger person in the relationship. It is about one person having and maintaining power and control over another person through physical, psychological, and/or verbally abusive means.
WHY MEN DON’T TELL
Many men cope with being abused by taking on a macho “I can handle it” attitude. Even if you have been hurt much worse than on an athletic playing field, that is not the same thing as being physically attacked by your intimate partner, which hurts emotionally as well as physically. Allowing this pattern to continue can result in depression, substance abuse, loss of confidence, even suicide.
Men typically face a greater degree of disbelief and ridicule than do most women in this situation, which helps enforce the silence. Domestic violence victims make excuses for injuries that show (“It was an accident” or “it happened while playing sports”) when friends or medical personnel ask about them. Abusers are expert at making victims feel no one is on their side, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy — the more you withdraw from friends and family to protect your partner, the less other people will be able to help you by confirming your experiences.
Reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship:
Financial: “S/He handles all the household finances…my name isn’t even on the checking account.” – “I haven’t worked in years because I have stayed home with the children. Where could I find a job that would give us enough money to survive on?”
Fear: Abusers use threats to keep their victims in relationships. – “S/He told me over and over that if I leave terrible things will happen.” – “He said no matter where I go he will find me and kill me.”
Normal: “My father abused my mother and she never left him so I grew up believing it was a normal part of a relationship.
Shame: “What will people think if they knew I let a woman beat up on me?” – “I don’t want to be laughed at.” – “No one would believe me.”
Self worth: I probably deserved it.
Denial: I can handle it, it’s not that bad OR All I have to do is leave the house until she cools down OR It’s PMS; the kids are giving her a hard time.
Reluctance to give up the good: She is a really creative, or loving, or wonderful person most of the time OR She didn’t mean it.
Inertia: It’s too hard to do anything about it OR I’m not ready to change my life OR I’ll deal with it later.