How Do I Know If I’m Being Abused?
By Lisa Twerski, LCSW from Shalomtaskforce.org, January 15, 2015
In an abusive relationship the abusive spouse believes that he is entitled to be in control of his spouse, in every way important to him, and will use a variety of tactics to gain and maintain that control. While most people think that it isn’t abuse if there is no physical violence, the reality is she can be afraid of what her spouse might do, in any number of ways, even if she is not actually afraid that he will be physically violent.
The following is a list of the different types of tactics that abusers use. This is only a partial list, but recognizing several of these tactics in your own relationship can help you start to name what is going on, things that until now might have been confusing to you.
Control Through Isolation
- Does your spouse (try to) prevent you from spending time with friends or family by either aggressively preventing you or by subtly making it difficult (picking a fight, acting miserable when everyone gets together, so you don’t even want to, embarrassing you so that you don’t feel it’s worth it, etc.)
- Does your spouse watch your every move?
- Call you several times a day to check up on you?
- Want to know your every action?
- Make you account for your time?
- Expect you to only do things, go places and get together with people he approves of?
- Has he tried to undermine your attempts at schooling or working?
Control Through Finances
- Are you on a strict budget but your spouse is not? Do you have to account for every penny?
- Does your spouse harass you over every expenditure, questioning you endlessly, but expects to be able to make financial decisions as he sees fit?
- Do you have to hand over any money you make, but don’t actually have access to money, except for what your husband decides to give you?
- Do you find yourself lying about or hiding money, because you’re worried that you might not have any when you need it?
Control Through Sexual Violence
- Does your spouse force you to have relations when you don’t want to?
- Does he ever force you to engage in acts that make you feel uncomfortable?
- Does he touch you or force you to have relations during niddah?
- Does he criticize you, tell you you don’t match up to other women, intimate, or tell you outright that other women in his life have been much more satisfying?
Control Through Emotional Abuse
- Does your spouse put you down, call you names?
- Does he threaten you, your family, your children or that he will take the children away from you?
- Does he blame you for everything that goes wrong, including when he abuses you?
- Does he do things purposely that he knows scares you, i.e. driving very fast and dangerously, insisting on allowing the children to do things that he knows you don’t feel are safe, etc.?
- Has your spouse ever destroyed things that that you cared about, like family photos, personal possessions, in order to ‘punish’ you?
- Does he apologize, only to do the same (kind of) thing again? Or does he use an apology as a way to say: “this matter is closed, you should be over it now = shut up.”?
Control Through Physical Violence
- Does your husband throw or break things when he is angry?
- Does he punch walls?
- Does he block your way, get close and intimidating, stopping just short of physically assaulting you (or that’s what you worry about)?
- Does he ever push you, hit you or physically harm you in any way?
If you think you are in an abusive relationship and want to seek help, call our hotline on 011 264 0341
Lisa Twerski, LCSW, has been working with victims of domestic violence for over twenty years, maintains a private practice in Brooklyn and lectures locally and nationally on many subjects including domestic abuse, marriage, and dating. Parts of this article have been excerpted from her book, I’m So Confused, Am I Being Abused?