Abuse has many faces. It can be overt or covert, but it is always hurtful. If you are consistently being hurt physically, verbally, or emotionally, the first step towards freeing yourself is recognizing the signs of abuse.
One type of abuse is verbal or emotional in nature. This type of abuse is stealthy and can be very difficult to identify. If you are being subjected to continuous personal put downs, repeated criticism, blaming, or name calling, it is likely that you are being verbally abused. If you are being subjected to threatening gestures, including reckless driving, destruction of property, or verbal threats, you are being abused. Controlling and isolating behavior is also common in a verbally or emotionally abusive situation.
You are being abused if you are subjected to unwanted physical contact. Physical abuse includes pushing, slapping, pinching, biting, and kicking. Restraining, spitting, or using a weapon on another person is also considered physical abuse. You are being abused if you are subjected to any of these behaviors, even if you cannot see scrapes, cuts, or bruises and no blood is drawn.
You are being sexually abused if you are subjected to unwanted sexual behavior or advances. Any form of rape is sexual abuse. You have the right to refuse the sexual advances of anyone, including your spouse. If someone refuses to take no for an answer, he or she is sexually assaulting you. Using threats or coercion, in the form of guilt or anger, to obtain sex is sexual abuse as well.
Intercourse need not take place for sexual abuse to occur. Any type of unwanted sexual touching can be considered sexual abuse. Likewise, using sexual words to humiliate is sexual abuse. Additionally, exposing a minor to inappropriate sexual information or images can be considered sexual abuse.
Another type of abuse is financial abuse. You are being financially abused if your money or property is being used without your consent. You are being abused if your spouse or life partner prevents you from having access to household money or financial records. Even the mismanagement of finances, which leads to the neglect of household needs, is considered abuse.
If you think you are being abused, seek help immediately. If you are being physically or sexually abused or have been threatened with violence, call the police immediately. For other types of abuse, contact an organization that assists victims of abuse in ending the abusive situation or relationship. Enlist the help and support of family members and friends. Above all, do all you can to get away from the situation as quickly as possible.
Remember, abusers don’t stop or change without professional help. Sometimes, years of therapy are required to bring about real change, and many abusers never fully stop their abusive behavior. To end the abusive relationship, you must take steps to remove yourself from the situation right away.