Are You An Abuse Victim? 6 Signs and What to Do Next
It is hard to imagine a clear definition of what abuse is and whether or not you are a victim. We see the extremes of abuse performed in television dramas and film but often overlook the daily occurrences of abuse that weave themselves into the fabric of our relationships. This tendency to ignore or negate our own suffering can sometimes occur because we don’t understand the various forms that abuse can take in our lives.
There are three major types of abuse to recognize:
A partner or family member may exhibit one or all of these forms of abuse in different degrees of severity and frequency. Still, there are further signs that alert us to whether or not we are experiencing abuse.
6 Signs you are a victim of abuse:
1. You feel a sense of inferiority
Have you ever heard the words, “You can never do anything right,” or have been denied certain responsibilities such as household finances because you can’t be trusted to handle them? Abuse victims are frequently made to feel that they are dependent upon or below their abusers. This power dynamic only deteriorates the victim’s self-confidence and may ultimately prevent them from seeking the courage to leave the relationship.
2. You are the object of ridicule
Sure, we all like to joke around with our partners, but at what point does it become harmful? If your partner is particularly fond of making demeaning or insulting comments (even while joking), it is likely an early sign of potentially violent outbursts in the future.
3. You are constantly fearful of reprisal
If you walk on eggshells around your partner, refrain from speaking your mind, or constantly study their body movements/behavioral cues, you are most likely fearing reactions such as:
- threatening to harm or take away your children
- destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
- intimidating you with guns, knives, or other weapons
- abandoning you in unfamiliar places
- driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car together
- physical abuse or forced sexual engagements
4. Your partner is constantly asserting control over you
If your partner enforces restrictions over social, economic, or professional aspects of your life, this may be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. In addition, your partner might force or pressure you to engage in sex or sexual acts you are uncomfortable with, consume drugs and alcohol, or demonstrate excessive forms of jealousy. All of these methods of control are extremely detrimental and are indicators to seek help.
5. You notice a cyclical pattern of behavior
The cycle of such abuse typically occurs in three stages:
1) Tension phase: In this phase, tension builds surrounding domestic concerns such as money, children, or household.
2) Violent episode phase: When the tension has reached its peak, a burst of violence will occur, often physical.
3) Honeymoon phase: Usually, the abuser will feel ashamed and apologetic of their actions after the battering episode.
If this cycle seems familiar to you, it may be that you are in or have been in an abusive relationship.
6. You are experiencing anxiety or depression
Anxiety and depression affect millions of people for different reasons, but if you are experiencing these emotional states in conjunction with other signs of abuse, you are most likely a long-time victim.
What to do next?
If you realize you are a victim of abuse, don’t wait for the next attack to seek help. 1-800-799-SAFE is a domestic abuse hotline that can provide 24*7 support to victims. In addition, adding regular therapy and group sessions that specialize in abuse can not only provide resources for escape but also start the healing process. Reaching out to trusted family or friends can also be helpful, but only if you feel safe in doing so. Regardless, recognizing and taking steps towards exiting an abusive relationship is always more effective the sooner they are enacted.