I am a victim of abuse

Understanding Power and Control

Abuse is when there is a pattern of one person trying to gain power and/or control over another - trying to gain power and control over how that other person thinks, feels, acts, sees themselves and the world around them.

One of the most recognizable forms of abuse is physical as physical violence may leave marks and people can easily identify and see its impacts. Physical violence is more ‘in your face’. Physical abuse is any action that physically hurts or threatens to hurt someone, including sexual assult. There are many ways of having power and control over someone and they may be less easy to recognize as they may start out as or be more subtle. Instead of using physical abuse or sexual violence, many abusers may use verbal, financial, spiritual, psychological or emotional forms of power and control over the other person.

Remember, no form of abuse stands alone. They are interconnected. You cannot be physically abused without feeling the emotional impacts. Someone threatening to take your money is both a form of financial abuse, intimidation and threats. Someone calling you names in front of your family so you are too embarrassed to spend time around them is isolation and emotional/verbal abuse.

No form of abuse is worse than another. They all work to hurt who we believe we are, who we are and how we express this to the world.

Understand Equality

The opposite of an abusive relationship (one based on power and control) is a healthy relationship. Healthy relationships are based on EQUALITY. When both people in a relationship believe they are equal, are both treated with dignity and respect and neither tries to gain power or control over the other, the result is a non-violent and healthy relationship. A healthy relationship does not mean that it is a perfect relationship. A healthy relationship does not mean that there are no difficulties or problems. A healthy relationship means that these difficulties or problems are resolved through healthy communication, compromise and negotiation, with a foundation of equality, mutual respect and dignity.

The Cycle of Abuse

In the beginning of an abusive relationship, many women identify that their partner presented himself as romantic, kind or loving. He acted sweet and made her feel special and cared for. Women also identify that over time; the face he presented changed as the abuse began and then escalated.

A cycle of abuse can happen in many abusive relationships. It does not happen to all women, and does not necessarily happen each time, but this cycle can be a common pattern of abuse.

An abusive incident can be a wide range of events, from name-calling to an extreme act of physical or sexual violence. Over time, this stage can escalate, becoming more intense and violent. It can also escalate from emotional abuse to physical abuse.

After the abusive incident, the abuser may apologize, be very loving and kind, and promise it won’t happen again. The abuser may say he will get counseling, stop drinking or any number of promises. during this stage, he may also blame her for the abuse or minimize what’ s happened. His promises and attitudes work to manipulate her into staying. This stage may get smaller as the abuse increases and/or intensifies. The parts of the relationship that bring her hope, may disappear altogether.

During this stage, tension builds in the relationship. There may be arguments, emotional abuse or less extreme forms of physical abuse like pushing or grabbing. This is a very difficult stage as you are living in tension and fear, waiting for the next abusive incident to happen.

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The cycle of Abuse may speed up during the course of an abusive relationship. Think of it as a tornado that is wider at the top and narrows at the bottom. At the top, the cycle takes longer and is less intense and violent. As the tornado narrows, it becomes more and more violent and intense with a shorter and quicker cycle.

Some women have expressed that they have initiated an abusive incident during the tension building stage. She is living in a place where the tension is building and knows from past experiences that violence is coming. She may do something that she knows will bring on an assult to move past the tension and the abuse into what may be a calmer or safer period during the manipulation stage.

Safety Planning

See nipissingtransitionhouse.com for safety planning and post-relationship safety planning

Warning signs

See nipissingtransitionhouse.com/warning_signs.php for the warning signs of an abusive relationship

Emergency Numbers (FIRST CHOICE: CALL 911)

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