One certain sign that it’s time for a relationship to end is when domestic abuse or violence occurs.
Contrary to popular belief, men are not exclusively the perpetrators of abuse and violence in a relationship – though statistically men are far more likely to be physically violent than women are.
Domestic violence and abuse are not just physical in nature.
By definition, domestic and family violence occurs when somebody in a close personal relationship intentionally causes another to feel powerless, unsafe, diminished, or afraid. This occurs across all age groups, cultures and sexes, and it is a crime.
We are all painfully aware, either through personal experience or through reports in the media, of physical violence in intimate relationships, which includes not only harming another but also threatening self harm, breaking objects, and hurting (or threatening to harm) pets or children.
Domestic abuse also includes:
Emotional abuse – blame, gaslighting, humiliation, criticising, controlling, guilt-tripping, silent treatment
Verbal abuse – name calling, shouting
Financial abuse – unfair control of or restricting access to money
Social abuse – restricting or controlling who the partner can see, where they can go, and what they can do
Stalking – excessively phoning, emailing (checking up on the partner), following
Sexual abuse – including coercion and rape
Cultural/spiritual abuse – controlling choices, activities, and practices
Contrary to what many believe, non-physical forms of abuse are every bit as damaging to the victim. Victims of emotional and similar abuse lose all self-esteem; sense of themselves; ability to disagree, challenge, or negotiate for themselves; and even their ability to think clearly and trust themselves. They can be isolated from family and friends, prevented from working and socialising, and over time may become physically unwell with chronic diseases as a result of long term emotional angst.
While direct victims of domestic abuse can suffer fear, humiliation, shame, depression, anxiety, anger, a life spent “walking on eggshells”, and longer term effects such as drug and alcohol use, suicidal thoughts, and even death, children are also extremely negatively impacted.
The effects of family violence on children include:
- Low self-esteem
- Social withdrawal
- Being a bully or a victim of bullying
- School problems
- Headaches, stomach aches, bedwetting
- Drug or alcohol use
The damage to children from witnessing family abuse can be long term and may impact on their future choices and relationships, as well as their mental health and wellbeing.
Any relationship which involves physical, sexual, emotional, financial, or any other form of abuse is unhealthy. Many times the abuser will promise to change; this almost never happens and a cycle of abuse and apology endures.
Do you need to leave a violent relationship?
Accept the support of friends and family, and find a local support group if possible. If you are afraid to leave, contact police and make a plan for your safety and that of children. Consult a doctor to deal with anxiety and depression, and know that you are making the right choice for yourself and your kids.
Divorce and separation is an opportunity to completely change the direction of your life, focusing on your future and who you are.
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