The Abuse Victims
In domestic abuse there are so many myths and preconceptions surrounding abuse victims, and we, as domestic violence victims ourselves are often just as confused as those family, friends and professionals looking in from the outside.
Are some people more likely to be abused than others?
Is there a way of spotting someone in an abusive relationship?
Possibly: see Who We Are, characteristics of abuse victims
The general concensus is that ANYBODY can become enmeshed in an abusive relationship, whether old or young, male or female, black or white, poor or wealthy, educated or unqualified. Statistically it is generally assumed that more the greatest proportion of abuse victims come from poorer, uneducated background and with a higher proportion being ethnic minority women than white, educated or men. But is that the full story? Could it just be that there is a difference in reporting figures? Possibly a slightly more accurate way of working out whether there is a likelihood that either you are being abused or whether someone you know is being abused is to look at the characteristics of people who are abused, as these do show some similarities, regardless of external socio-economic differences. To find out more, check out Who we Are - Characteristics of Abuse Victims.
What about what culture teachers us about domestic abuse?
Some of the confusion surrounding domestic violence itself and which also cause confusion for the abuse victims, thier friends and family, are the number of myths on domestic abuse which permeate our culture and society. Most of these, we have never really had to think about too much before, we just accepted them as part of the given norm and believed them to be such, the norm. Actually, a lot of what we as a society think is a fact about domestic violence and abuse victims, is actually a myth, and these myths have the effect of furthering the feelings of guilt for the abuse victim and preventing her from really recognising that she is in an abusive relationship. In some instances beliefs in these myths can prevent an abuse victim from leaving even if her life is at risk. Hence it is a good idea to have a closer look at those myths and facts about domestic violence.
One of the main accusations abuse victims have to face over and again form outsiders, are the questions of why, if she was really being abuse did she just not leave? Or did he not just hit back? How can we explain that the dynamics are just not that clear cut, that the decision to leave is not so easy and that sometimes we feel that it is better to stay and tolerate the abuse for the sake of our children or because of the shame of leaving our husband. But it is not only people on the outside who throw such questions at us. We find it difficult to understand why we stay too, even when we know that this is not the life we wanted for ourselves or our children. To help gain some understanding on what goes on in our heads, look through Why We Stay.
Can men be abuse victims too or is it only women who are abused?
The simple reply to this question is YES. Men can also be the victims in abusive and violent relationsips, they can be emotionally, financially, physically and sexualy assaulted and abused. I do not want to get into an arguemnt about who does most abusing, nor which sex is the more aggressive. Suffice it to say that some men are domestic violence victims, and these men need the same understanding, validation and support as the many female abuse victims. So if you are a man in an abusive relationship, the page on Male victims of Domestic Violence is for you.
Does abuse do lasting damage emotionally?
Is there a link between being abused as a child and as an adult becoming involved in an abusive relationship?
Find out - check out our online Poll!
Absolutely, yes, and many abuse survivors say it takes them longer to come to terms and get over the emotional abuse than the physical abuse, the violent episodes. Being in an abusive relationship can knock your sense of Self and your self-confidence right down, until you barely know who you are any more, it can rob you of your ability to trust or to make even simple decisions, it can leave you doubting your own judgemnt and gut reaction, and in some cases can even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Read more about PTSD here and see whether you recognise yourself or a loved one?
Friends and Family
There we are, concerned about our daughter, son, sister, friend or other relative or aquaintance, and we can see that something is not right in the relationship, maybe we know that they are abuse victims and that our family member of friend is suffering. But what can we do? Do we try to run in there and rescue her, or just try to tlk with her, or give him some books or pay for counselling?
Often we can be in the most frustrating position of all, seeing and understanding what is going on, seeing someone we care about being hurt time and again, but we just feel incompetant, not knowing what we can do for the best or whether doing anything might aggravate the situation. The page on Advice for Friends and Families on helping the victim has been written by a survivor specifically to help you understand and know your limits in helping your loved one.
Other useful and informative pages are:
Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence looks at the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. This affects many abuse victims and their children greatly and is often another reason for staying.
Why don't they just Leave? (PDF) by Brian Fox of www.smellthereality.com - "This booklet is written for not only those in the relationships, but also those that are on the outside, and can't understand why don’t they just leave?"
Keeping Safe while in an Abusive Relationship
The reality for domestic violence victims is that we do not leave, at least not immediately. Official statistics state that it takes an average of 35 assaults before an abuse victim will tell anyone - but judging from the many women I have heard from over the years, that is a vast underestimation - most have spent years if not decades with a violent and abusive partner and have done their best to 'control' the house, children, his moods, their own selves in such a way as to minimize the violence or frequency of assaults.
Regardless of why we stay in such relationships, we do need to know how to best keep ourselves and our children safe from further abuse. The following pages have been written with this concept of trying to keep safe while the abuser is still around specifically in mind:
Leaving the abusive relationship
Leaving is never an easy decision to make, nor an easy one to carry out. But although there are hurdles to overcome for abuse victims, both emotional and practical, it is possible to live without violence and abuse, to rebuild your confidence and enjoy life to the full again.
Even once we have recognised the abuse and made the decision to leave, there are still many hurdles to overcome. How do you actually leave - safely? Do you tell him you are leaving, and if so, how? How do you get through those initial few weeks or months? Where can you go? What legal routes can you pursue to protect yourself from further harassment or violence? What support organisations exist and what can they offer? Do you need to acquire a divorce? Are there any support organisations which can provide help or counselling for the children? How do you help the children come to terms with the changes?
These questions and many more often have to be faced when leaving an abusive relationship, and the following pages will hopefully help to explain, support and direct you towards further help and resources.
Surviving Domestic Abuse - the first few days and weeks can be tough to get through, here are just a few hints, tips and ideas from somone who has been there.
Leaving an Abusive Relationship and your Safety - written by a Police Constable and author on Bullying and Domestic Violence
I've Thought About Leaving - How can I do it? (previously from Rhiannon3)
No Contact (previous from Rhiannon3)
Stay or Leave? Go Back or Stay Away? An Explanation - on the Rhiannon3 site (US)
How To Tell They are Not Changing Their Abusive Behavior - (previous from Rhiannon3)
For a comprehensive list of National and Regional helplines and links to various support organisations, check out Resources.
Poll: Is there a link between being abused as a child and as an adult becoming involved in an abusive relationship?
Many people and some research seems to indicate that there is a link between child abuse and adult experiences of domestic abuse, whether as a victim of abuse or as a perpetrator. There are several overlapping and interlinking theories on why such a link should exist. One theory of why this pattern seems to occur is that children growing up in unhealthy or disfunctional homes in which abuse or severe neglect occurs learn unhealthy patterns of relating, and therefore subconsciously chose a partner in later life who has equally unhealthy patterns of relating. Another theory is that we chose relationships in which we can continue to battle issues which have been unresolved in our childhood, eg a child growing up with an alcoholic emotionally unavailable father may chose a partner later on in life who is equally emotionally unavailable, in order to continue the daily battle for attention and emotional intimacy. Another theory is that growing up in a home where abuse in some form is the norm, we grow up feeling as though this is what a relationship is meant to be; such homes tend to include instability, conflict, emotional distance and a life which goes from one crisis to another - entering a relationship based on stability, mutual respect and emotional closeness feels alien and boring, hence one is drawn to more exciting, unstable and ultimately destructive relationships.
Child abuse does not necessarily involve violence or sexual abuse only, but several research papers have suggested that severe physical and/or emotional neglect should be classified as abusive as overt violence toward children, please bear this in mind while filling in the following poll. Thank you for your input!
In This Section:
Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
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