Domestic bliss ain’t always what it is cracked up to be and here more than most places, the cracks appear when the pressure is on. For those living with an abusive partner or parent, Christmas can be the worst time of year.
What to look out for
The signs of abuse are not always as obvious as you might think. That’s because domestic abuse is about controlling someone’s mind and emotions as much as hurting their body. Being abused can leave you scared and confused. It can be hard for you to see your partner’s actions for what they really are.Usually, physical abuse isn’t what comes first. The abuse can creep up slowly. A putdown here or there. An odd excuse to keep you away from family or friends. The violence often ramps up once you’ve been cut off from other people. By then, you feel trapped.
If you’re afraid of your partner, that’s a big red flag. You may be scared to say what you think, to bring up certain topics, or to say no to sex. No matter the reason, fear has no place in a healthy relationship.If you feel like you’re being abused, there’s a good chance you may be, and it’s worth getting help. Keep that in mind as you think about these signs:Your partner bullies, threatens, or controls you:
- Excuses for injuries
- Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
- Constantly checking in with their partner
- Never having money on hand
- Overly worried about pleasing their partner
- Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
- Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises
- Accuses you of having an affair
- Blames you for abuse
- Criticizes you
- Tells you what to wear and how you should look
- Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
- Throws things or punches walls when angry
- Yells at you and makes you feel small
Your partner cuts you off from family and friends:
- Keeps close tabs on where you go and whom you go with
- Makes you ask for an OK to see friends and family
- Embarrasses you in front of others, and it makes you want to avoid people
Your partner physically abuses you:
- Abandons you in a place you don’t know
- Attacks you with weapons
- Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care
- Locks you in or out of your house
- Punches, pushes, kicks, bites, pulls hair
Your partner sexually abuses you:
- Forces you to have sex
- Makes you dress in a sexual way
- Makes you feel like you owe them sex
- Tries to give you an STD
- Won’t use condoms or other birth control
Are the Signs Different for Men?They’re often the same. And that’s true whether the abusive partner is a woman or another man. It may be emotional or verbal, like taking away keys, medicines, or other essentials. Or things like constantly putting you down in public or on social media.
And, it can be physical. To make up for differences in strength, abusive partners may try to attack you in your sleep, by surprise, or with weapons and other objects. They may also abuse your children or pets.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, seek help. You don’t need to suffer in silence.
*Article adapted from WebMD in parts