What does abuse look like?

Physical abuse is a powerful way that an abusive person gets and keeps their partner under control and it instills an environment of constant fear. While physical abuse is the form of abuse that is most commonly known, it may or may not be a part of an abusive relationship. If physical abuse is present early in the relationship, it commonly gets worse over time. If there is no physical abuse in the relationship, it may begin to occur when the victim is pregnant or when the victim is considering leaving the relationship. Physical violence may include: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting or killing pets, and denying medical treatment.

 

Some form of sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships but it is often the least discussed. It can be subtle or overt. The impact on the victim is commonly feelings of shame and humiliation. Sexual abuse may include: physically forcing sex, making you feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing you to participate in demeaning or degrading sexual acts, violence or name calling during sex, and denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

 

Emotional abuse occurs in some form in all abusive relationships. It is a very effective tactic used by abusive partners to obtain power and control and it can cause extreme damage to the victim’s self esteem. Commonly, emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse and to feel crazy, worthless and hopeless. It is so damaging that many survivors of domestic violence report that they would have rather “be hit” than endure the ongoing psychic damage of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, “crazy making”, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming you for their behavior, threatening and making you feel fearful, isolating you from family and friends, excessive jealously, accusing you of having affairs, and watching where you go and who you talk to.

 

Financial Abuse is one of the least commonly known but one of the most powerful tactic of entrapping a victims in the relationship. It is so powerful that many victims of abuse describe it as the main reason that they stayed in an abusive relationship or went back to one. Some forms of financial abuse include: giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with your job, and ruining your credit.

Am I being abused?

The following is a list of early warning signs that someone may be abusive. This list was put together by survivors of domestic violence who reflected on the early phases of the battering relationship and identified some of the early warning signs of abusers.

 

Someone who:

 

  • Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.

  • Does not honor your boundaries.

  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of having affairs.

  • Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails and texts you throughout the day.

  • Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are "crazy," "stupid" and/or "fat," or that no one would ever want or love you.

  • Says one thing and does another.

  • Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.

  • Has a history of battering.

  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their partner; for example, "My ex was a total bitch."

  • Grew up in an abusive or violent home.

  • Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.

  • Seems "too good to be true."

  • Insists that you stop participating in leisure interests.

  • Rages out of control and is impulsive.

  • Pay attention to the “red flags “and trust your instincts.

 

Survivors of domestic violence frequently report that their instincts told them that there was something wrong early on but they disregarded the warning signs and didn’t know that these signs were indicative of an abusive relationship.

 

Always take time to get to know a potential partner and watch for patterns of behavior in a variety of settings. Keeping in touch with your support system and participating in good self-care can lower your risk of being involved in an abusive relationship.

Internet and Computer Safety

 

If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are.

 

  • Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer and Internet activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor with programs like Spyware, keystroke loggers and hacking tools.

 

  • It is not possible to delete or clear all the “footprints" of your computer or online activities.

 

  • If you are being monitored, it may be dangerous to change your computer behaviors such as suddenly deleting your entire Internet history if that is not your regular habit.

 

  • If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, be careful how you use your computer since an abuser might become suspicious.

 

  • You may want to keep using the monitored computer for innocuous activities, like looking up the weather. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan, look for new jobs or apartments, bus tickets, or ask for help.

 

  • Email and Instant/Text Messaging (IM) are not safe or confidential ways to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life. If possible, please call a hotline instead. If you use email or IM, please use a safer computer and an account your abuser does not know about.

 

  • Computers can store a lot of private information about what you look at via the Internet, the emails and instant messages you send, internet-based phone and IP-TTY calls you make, web-based purchases and banking, and many other activities. It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.

 

 

 

CONTACT US:.

 

Alternative House

P.O. Box 2100

Lowell, MA 01853

OUTREACH OFFICE:

 

Phone: 1-978-937-5777

Fax: 1-978-937-5595

 

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