What is abuse?
Any action designed to control, intimidate, threaten, or injure another person is usually designated as abuse. Abuse is also called domestic violence. This can be misleading though, because abuse isn’t just physical violence. For example, hitting another person so that they will not go out with friends is abuse, but so is manipulating or threatening them in order to get them to stay home.
Why do people abuse others?
Abuse is about having power and control over another person. Abuse happens because of how the abuser feels about themselves and the world around them. It is not personal and has nothing to do with the victim. Abuse is a reflection of what kind of person the abuser is, not the kind of person the victim is. Most abusers have abused multiple partners or family members in their lives. Abusive behavior is not about the victim(s) — ever. It is about the abuser.
Many abusers were victims of abuse themselves at one point in their lives. This does not excuse their behavior — no matter what they or anybody else says. It is absolutely never OK to abuse others. Ever.
Am I being abused?
There are many kinds of abusive behavior. Intimidation, threats, manipulation and controlling are all abuse. All physical violence is abuse, even things like throwing something across the room or putting holes in the walls. Terrorizing the family through rages, tantrums and hysteria are abuse. Insults, humiliation tactics, smear campaigns and abuse by proxy, gaslighting and more all fall into the category of abuse.
Abusers rely on the fact that their victim cares about them, that the victim is a good person. Don’t let your love and empathy be used as a weapon against you. The rule of thumb is that if you are in a relationship that makes you feel afraid or hurt, you should probably get out of it. Abuse generally does not get better on its own. It gets worse.
But my relationship is different!
No, it isn’t. Many people think their relationship is different from those “other” kinds of abusive relationships, or they believe the abuser is different. They aren’t. Someone who is abusing loved ones for their own selfish reasons at your house is the same as anyone else doing the same thing at someone else’s house. There is no difference. Please get out of the relationship before it’s too late.
What can I do to prevent abuse?
The most important thing you can do to prevent abuse in your life is to value yourself. Create and enforce strong boundaries, and learn your own worth. The best way to prevent abuse is not to get into abusive relationships in the first place. Learn to act when you notice red flags. Learn to take your power back. If you have a vulnerability to abusive relationships, work on addressing what is causing this vulnerability so you can heal it and move forward with healthy relationships.
You are standing in the future that you have been waiting for with this person. Does it look like you thought it would?
If you are in danger, please call 911 or leave the situation as soon as possible.
The Little Shaman specializes in helping others to recognize, prevent and heal from abuse. You can schedule an appointment with The Little Shaman here.