Ageless wisdom tells us that marriage is a sacred union where two individuals vow to love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. A strong marriage is the foundation for a strong family, and strong families build a strong society. Marriage is a perfect setup for people to live harmoniously.
In reality, a lot of marriages are crumbling apart because of several reasons one of which is spousal abuse. Abuse in relationships is not determined by gender. Women can be abusive just as much as men although statistics show that it is usually the women who come out as victims. Abuse also happens regardless of age, socio-economic status and cultural background.
Abusers in a relationship exhibit behaviour patterns that are meant to intimidate, dominate or coerce their partners. Abuse can be done not just through physical violence but through emotional acts as well.
Forms of Abuse
This happens when a husband or wife degrades, humiliates or manipulates his or her spouse using words or other emotional and psychological tactics. For example, a husband who abuses his or her wife emotionally can criticize everything she does or call her ugly names. He will always try to make her feel wrong or inadequate. He can spy on all her activities and even forbid her from seeing any of her friends. In extreme cases, abusers can threaten to hurt themselves or other people. The aim of this kind of abuse is to make a victim feel worthless and totally dependent on his or her spouse.
This kind of abuse occurs when an abuser uses physical actions such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking or choking. All these acts are meant to threaten or hurt a victim to keep him or her under his control. Physical abuse can also include sexual abuse where victims are forced to have sex or do sexual acts against their will. This is usually done through physical force or by using drugs that can make victims fall unconscious. In some cases, sexual abuse is done by using psychological manipulation or coercion.
Since an abuser’s goal is to gain absolute control over all the decisions and actions of a victim, he or she can use money to do this. Abusers can abuse their spouses financially by rigidly controlling their financial activities, sabotaging their jobs, making career-related decisions for them and stealing money from them.
Signs of Abuse in a Relationship
Victims of abuse are usually blinded from the reality of their situation. They are usually afraid of seeking help as they are hopeful that their spouse would still change. Abusers are usually very good with words and often successful in convincing their victims that their possessiveness or jealousy is driven by love. They can also make other excuses for their behaviour such as a traumatic childhood experience, a bad day at work, or even the victim. Sadly, victims easily fall for these excuses.
No one deserves to go through pain even in the hands of a loved one. Recognizing that you are in an abusive relationship is the first step to breaking free from it. The most common sign of abuse in a relationship is having an unhealthy fear of your partner.
According to experts, abuse goes through a six-step cycle. First, the abuse then comes the feeling of guilt, after which comes the part where excuses are made. Then, abusers will exhibit normal behaviour to keep their victims. When a victim is convinced that his or her spouse has changed, then the abuser starts fantasizing about starting the abuse again by making a lot of rationalizations. Then, they plan another abuse, after which comes another set of abusive actions. The cycle just keeps on going that it is sometimes easy for victims to think that a spouse has changed when in fact the abuser is only going through the “normal behaviour” part of the cycle.
In our culture, it is uncommon for married people, especially women, to come out against their spouses. If you are unsure whether you’re abused or not, most likely you are. Immediately seek the help of a professional so you will know how to protect yourself from future abuse and leave the abusive relationship safely. Once you have decided to break free, healing can begin to happen in your life.