The subtle signs of domestic abuse.

Dec 13


Keith McGregor

Keith McGregor

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This Article is related with Domestic Abuse. Domestic abuse is about power and control and various types of Domestic Abuses are defined here.


When people hear the phrase 'Domestic Abuse' an instant reaction is to think about physical abuse - hitting,The subtle signs of domestic abuse. Articles slapping, pushing…Whilst this is a very common form of abuse and can result in terrible injury and sometimes death - 2 women a week die in England and Wales at the hands of their partner or ex-partner - many people experience a different sort of abuse which can utterly debilitate and exhaust them.

Perpetrators of domestic violence want to control their partner and they find many different ways to do this, sometimes without ever resorting to any sort of physical violence. Emotional and psychological abuse can be a much more subtle form of abuse, and is very difficult to detect - it leaves no physical scars or bruises.

Many people who have had a controlling and abusive partner talk of having to 'constantly walk on egg shells' so as not to provoke a row. They speak of being constantly humiliated and belittled, criticised and threatened. They can be called 'stupid', 'clumsy', 'ugly', 'fat', 'a bad parent', 'mad' etc etc. This will happen not once but repeatedly - so often in fact that the non-abusive partner starts to believe they are stupid or ugly or mad etc.

An abusive partner may make constant petty demands such as the exact time dinner has to be put on the table, how the food is arranged on the plate, which saucepans food is prepared in; a male perpetrator may constantly call his partner by a 'generic' name such as 'babe' or 'princess' (this may not sound so terrible but over time it makes someone lose a sense of their own individuality); survivors tell of losing contact with friends and family because their partner would make it so difficult for them to see them - isolation is a common consequence of being in an unhealthy relationship and can severely alter a persons perception of what is abusive behaviour and what is not.

Some perpetrators can play mind games - they move objects around the house and then deny doing this. The abused partner starts to feel they are losing grip on reality and may be going 'mad'. The perpetrator may go out of the house taking all the house keys, the abused partner cant then leave the house because they cant lock the doors or get back in - which effectively makes them a prisoner in their own home. This will happen not once but over and over again - and they wont know when it will happen again so they cant make any plans to go out and see friends or even go to the shops.

Control over all the finances is another way in which somebody can abuse their partner - they can demand receipts for all expenditure, force the partner to fraudulently claim benefits, demand that all the money earned is kept in their account and that they will hand over 'pocket money' when they see fit. Having no access to money makes seeking support and leaving a bad relationship very difficult and further isolate somebody.

If looked at one at a time, each of these tactics may not appear very harmful. And if they are only displayed once then it could just be a 'blip'. However if these tactics start to form a pattern of behaviour then it could be a sign of an abusive person. Taken together, repeatedly over a period of time, this behaviour can make someone feel very low, lack self-esteem and confidence, feel isolated and alone, and believe that they are to blame.

If you are worried or concerned about yourself or a friend or family member then you can call the your Sanctuary Surrey domestic abuse 24 hour helpline, and speak in confidence to a trained member of staff or volunteer. (01483 776822)

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