One in three women will suffer a violent or abusive relationship at least once in her life. Isn’t that awful? Those that suffer need our help and support during and after the relationship has, hopefully, ended. These controlling partners are both men and women. Men will also find abuse and control from the person that’s supposed to love them however, whether more women are reporting the crime than men, I don’t know but anyone can suffer at the hands or words of their partner.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship it’s often very hard to get them the help they need and discretion is so important. When dealing with these people you must remember that any action you do could set of a reaction behind closed doors that could really hurt your friend. You may then lose that friend.
A person doesn’t abuse for fun. The abuse because they want control over another person. They may blame unemployment, mental health, drugs or alcohol abuse. They may blame their childhood for the way they are. These are all excuses. The only reason a person is abusive is because they want to control every situation and person in their life. This can be their partners, work colleagues, parents, siblings, friends and children. It is important for the abuser to recognise what they are doing, how to stop and get the help they may need for their past sufferings. However, it is also important for the people they are controlling or abusing to leave that environment or at the very least get help themselves.
Do not just rush in trying to save the person if you think or know they are being abused at home. Abusive people are usually very good at manipulating others, putting on a good front, appearing confident or, my favourite “the nicest person I’ve ever met” and because a lot of people will tell the abused partner that they’re “so nice” the partner will believe it and accept the abuse or control they have over them.
There is a cycle of abuse and it’s very easy to get completely stuck in the loop. The only way to break the cycle is to leave the abusive relationship and it can be a very hard, scary but brave decision. Your friend might not even recognise that they’re in an abusive relationship or be in denial about it but the truth is you never know what goes on behind closed doors. If you feel you need to speak to your friend then take them to a quiet, private place without their partners or children because talking about it can sometimes make it worse.
You could try and see if there is a local Freedom Programme running in your area. This is a ten week course that may or may not have a creche alongside it for those with children and this is a safe space for women to talk and learn about the cycle of abuse and how to break away from it. The people that run these programmes are usually very experienced in domestic violence and will always be there to offer help and advice.
When someone leaves an abusive relationship they will feel very vulnerable, just like anyone after the end of something. If the person really wants to break the cycle they should block all contact with the ex partner or only meet them on neutral ground surrounded by others. It’s very common for the abuser to have huge mood swings begging the person to come back, claiming acts of love, showering with gifts or even threatening to take their own life if they don’t go back to them. When children are involved it’s important for those that need it to seek legal help. Often, you will be told you can not stop your partner seeing their children even if there has been violence in the relationship. A judge will not stop contact unless they believe the children are at risk of violence themselves which is not always the case. You can however always suggest precautions such as supervised contact.
It is likely, after the person has left the relationship they will suffer with anxiety or depression. They need the support of friends and family more than anything at this time. Help them adjust to life as a single parent if they have children, include them, visit them. Do not make them feel more alone as they may end up listening to their abusive ex partners claims of love. Support, help and encouragement is key.
Leaving a relationship is hard and can be very scary. You may feel like you won’t trust anyone for a long time, you may feel jumpy and you may feel very angry at yourself. You may feel that others are judging you and making you feel like a failure because you “let yourself be abused” when that’s never, ever how it starts and these people haven’t experienced this level of abuse before. It can start with a “oh, you don’t need to work, I’ve got money, I can provide for you” which takes away your financial independence. It’s put to you like you can be a lady of leisure but actually it’s so the controller can keep you at home, keep you alone, keep you vulnerable and stop you being able to escape. They isolate you from others so that you can be completely dependent on them but at first they make their actions start out as kind and doing the best thing.
It can then move on to things like “oh you look so lovely when you wear makeup” which can turn to “you can’t leave the house unless you’re made up I don’t want other people seeing how disgusting you really look” – how is that for boosting natural beauty and self confidence? Being told that other people will judge you if you don’t wear makeup, if you’re not dressed right, if you’re not slim enough. Abusive partners will make these little jabs every single day until you start believing it yourself. When you’re told something enough you start to think it’s true.
All you can really do in this situation is support, get help and remember that you don’t deserve the abuse. No one does.