If You Are in an Abusive Relationship Now
Domestic violence is all too common in our society. Not only does it affect your own quality of life, it affects your child's quality of life now and in the future. It is all right if you feel love toward an abusive partner, and you may be able to stay in the relationship long-term, but you must not ignore the problem, because abuse will not get better without professional help.
Identifying an Abusive Relationship
Your relationship is abusive if the following behavior patterns are occurring:
Your partner yells at you, calls you names, insults you, lies to you, makes fun of you, or tells you to shut up.
Your partner plays mind games with you, makes you feel bad about yourself, controls your money, destroys your belongings, impedes your education, career, or other goals, hurts your pet, or threatens to do any of the above.
You feel like your partner controls your life.
Your partner hits, pushes, scratches, or burns you, or throws things at you.
Your partner rapes you or forces you to engage in sexual activities you're not comfortable with.
Your partner has isolated you from your family and friends, discourages you from being active and involved, or has kept you from participating in social activities.
Your relationship goes through a cycle of explosive incidents, making up, and building tension.
You feel like you're walking on eggshells around your partner, and that the littlest thing could set your partner off.
Your partner threatens to commit suicide if you ever leave.
Your partner stalks you or threatens to hurt or kill you, your children, or others you care about.
If You Are an Abuser
If, in reading the warning signs above, you recognize your own behaviors, seek help from a licensed therapist. Admitting that you have a problem is very admirable because it takes a lot of courage, and it is the first step toward fixing the situation. Chances are, you have been through a great deal of pain in your own life. By taking action to help yourself, you can spare your own partner and children the same experiences. Confronting your feelings can be scary. Courage is the path to being a true hero for your family. You are not destined to repeat the past.
If you are being abused, you have several options, depending on how serious your situation is. If you fear for your or your children's lives, it's time to call 911 immediately. If you are being abused but you and your children are not in immediate danger, reach out to a trusted friend or loved one who you know will not tell your partner you've talked about the situation. Abuse usually escalates if the abuser finds out the victim has talked about what is going on. Do not let the abuser know you have reached out. You can call your county's social services department from your loved one's house and ask what your options are. If you have time, you can gather important papers before going to a shelter. Most counties have one, if not several, domestic violence shelters where you and your children can stay while you get counseling, find a job, and get on your feet. Many counties also have services for boarding pets so that you don't have to leave your pet in the abuser's care.
Impact on Your Child
As you read earlier, children can hear domestic violence, even when they're in their rooms and supposed to be sleeping, and witnessing abuse has a traumatic effect on them, which, as you now know, can affect their cognitive and emotional development. It's crucial to your child's development to get help. Holding a family together makes sense if it's in the child's best interests; it doesn't if it is harmful to the child. In addition, people grow accustomed to their environments; if your child grows up in an abusive home, she is highly likely to seek out an abusive romantic relationship later in life.