‘Domestic violence is the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.’
Credit – Refuge
Think about that for a bit.
‘Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.’
According to the Office for National Statistics, one woman in four experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, so the chances are that if you don’t recognise that statement in yourself, it may well be happening to someone you know. Perhaps they’re hiding it, perhaps you have your suspicions, maybe it’s obvious but you don’t know what to do to help.
One option is to get in touch with Refuge. Refuge supports anyone who has experienced domestic abuse in any of its forms, through a range of services including, but not limited to, refuges, advocacy and a telephone helpline, run in partnership with Women’s Aid. (Open 24 hours a day – 0808 2000 247).
(If you’re nervous about visiting the Refuge website it might be useful to know that it has an escape bar across the top of the page – click on it anytime and it will immediately change the screen to show the Google homepage.)
Today, September 5th, is International Day of Charity and I wanted to use it to make sure that as many people as possible know about Refuge and that anyone looking for support, either for themselves or someone else, can access it as quickly as possible.
What is domestic abuse?
Because domestic abuse encompasses so much more than just physical violence, it can be hard to be sure whether or not you are experiencing it.
That might sound like a strange thing to say, but when you’re in a relationship it can be hard to get perspective on a situation. You make excuses for people you love, you blame a difficult background or problems at work perhaps, because you don’t want to believe that they would hurt you. You are probably scared – scared to admit the abuse to yourself or other people or scared of the consequences of taking action to get away.
If you suspect that you might be experiencing domestic abuse, take a look at the following questions from the Refuge website:
- Is your partner excessively jealous and possessive?
- Is he charming one minute and abusive the next? Does he have sudden changes of mood – like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
- Is he stopping you from seeing your family and friends? Do you feel isolated?
- Is he constantly criticizing you and putting you down in public?
- Does he embarrass you, often in front of family and friends, so that you are seen in a bad light?
- Does your partner play mind games and make you unsure of your own judgment?
- Does he tell you you’re useless and couldn’t cope without him?
- Does he control your money?
- Does he tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, what to think?
- Does he pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
- Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry?
- Does he monitor your movements? Or check up on you via your email, Facebook, Twitter or by looking at your text messages?
- Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten you and make you comply with his demands?
- Has your partner ever threatened you, or intimidated you by using violent language or smashing up the furniture?
- Are you forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner’s reaction?
- Are you blamed for their behaviour e.g. they say you were “asking for it” or deserved the abuse?
In case you’re wondering ‘how many did I need to tick?’, it could just be one. If you said yes to ANY of these, you may be experiencing domestic abuse.
Find out more about how Refuge can help by visiting their website or calling the 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.