Is It Abuse?

Although everyone’s situation is unique, there are common factors that link the experience of an abusive relationship. Acknowledging these factors is an important step in preventing and stopping the abuse. This list can help you to recognise if your client is in an abusive relationship.  Constructing an empathetic conversation around the below areas is important to gather this information and help your client to understand what is abuse.

Some of this information will come from your original referral or risk screening RIC and this can be the starting point for such conversations.  It’s likely you will not obtain all of this information at once from your client, and this may trickle through to you over time, the more trust is established in the relationship you have with them.

  • Destructive criticism and verbal abuse
  • Shouting; mocking; accusing; name calling; verbally threatening.
  • Pressure tactics
  • Sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnecting the phone and internet, taking away or destroying your mobile, tablet or laptop, taking the car away, taking the children away; threatening to report you to the police, social services or the mental health team unless you comply with his demands; threatening or attempting self-harm and suicide; withholding or pressuring you to use drugs or other substances; lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.
  • Disrespect
  • Persistently putting you down in front of other people; not listening or responding when you talk; interrupting your telephone calls; taking money from your purse without asking; refusing to help with childcare or housework.
  • Breaking trust
  • Lying to you; withholding information from you; being jealous; having other relationships; breaking promises and shared agreements.
  • Isolation
  • Monitoring or blocking your phone calls, e-mails and social media accounts, telling you where you can and cannot go; preventing you from seeing friends and relatives; shutting you in the house.
  • Harassment
  • Following you; checking up on you; not allowing you any privacy (for example, opening your mail, going through your laptop, tablet or mobile), repeatedly checking to see who has phoned you; embarrassing you in public; accompanying you everywhere you go.
  • Threats
  • Making angry gestures; using physical size to intimidate; shouting you down; destroying your possessions; breaking things; punching walls; wielding a knife or a gun; threatening to kill or harm you and the children; threatening to kill or harm family pets; threats of suicide.
  • Sexual violence:
  • Using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don’t want it; forcing you to look at pornographic material; constant pressure and harassment into having sex when you don’t want to, forcing you to have sex with other people; any degrading treatment related to your sexuality or to whether you are lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
  • Physical violence
  • Punching; slapping; hitting; biting; pinching; kicking; pulling hair out; pushing; shoving; burning; strangling, pinning you down, holding you by the neck, restraining you.
  • Denial
  • Saying the abuse doesn’t happen; saying you caused the abuse; saying you wind him up; saying he can’t control his anger; being publicly gentle and patient; crying and begging for forgiveness; saying it will never happen again.

Everyone has arguments, and everyone disagrees with their partners, family members and others close to them from time to time. And we all do things at times that we regret, and which cause unhappiness to those we care about. But if this begins to form a consistent pattern, then it is an indication of domestic violence and abuse.

Has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your friends or family?

Has your partner prevented you or made it hard for you to continue or start studying, or from going to work?

Does your partner constantly check up on you or follow you?

Are you ever afraid of your partner?

Have you ever changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you?

Has your partner ever hurt or threatened you or your children?

Has your partner ever forced you to do something that you really did not want to do?

Has your partner ever tried to prevent your leaving the house?

If you answered yes – this is abuse.

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