Am I an abuser?
Am I an abuser?
Have you ever felt or said any of the following?
- “When I get angry I just can’t control myself.”
- “Well you’ve got to stand up for yourself, haven’t you, otherwise they walk all over you.”
- “Sometimes when we argue, I shout and my partner is afraid of me.”
- “I don’t know, a few drinks and things just get a bit out of hand.”
- “I don’t know what she means. I’ve never hit her. I just pushed her and she fell over.”
- “It’s all very well for you to talk about being me being abusive – you don’t know what I have to put up with.”
If you find you check up on your partner or ex-partner frequently (listening to their phone conversations, checking their car mileage, emails, texts), if you frequently put your partner or ex-partner down (calling them names, criticising them , humiliating them), if you try to control your partner or ex-partner (telling them whom they can or can’t see, where they can and can’t go, what they can or can’t wear), if your partner or ex-partner is afraid of what you will say or do, if you are being physically violent, emotionally abusing your partner, intimidating your partner, sexually abusing your partner – you are a perpetrator of domestic abuse.
Many perpetrators of domestic abuse constantly put the blame on their partner – I’ll stop shouting at you or hitting you if you do this – if you do that – if you stop winding me up – if you do what I say etc. The only person who is responsible for your actions is yourself. Violence is always a choice, your own choice, and there are no excuses for it. There is no one else to blame for being abusive. The time to get help is now – do not to keep putting it off or denying that you need help.
Perpetrators of domestic abuse have to want to get help for themselves, to be prepared to work hard and to face up to what they have done and the damage they caused to their partner and also any children, which may be involved in the relationship.
To be able to take responsibility for your actions and to stop blaming others takes strength and courage. If you are a perpetrator of domestic abuse, you can choose what kind of person you want to be. There are agencies who can provide workshops and support to help you to stop this cycle of abuse.
Stopping the cycle
To prevent the cycle of abuse from repeating itself, here are some immediate ways to cool down:
Leave the scene
No matter what the situation is – LEAVE! Go somewhere safe and peaceful to calm down, collect your thoughts, and consider the consequences of your actions.
Slow down – cool down
Focus on something else. Take a brisk walk, listen to music, or exercise.
Talk to someone outside of the situation, such as a counsellor at a help line. Tell them that you need to cool down and that it helps to have someone to listen to you.
Tell a friend
Tell a friend you trust what you are doing to slow down and cool down. Remember that alcohol and drugs get in the way of making responsible decisions.
Take responsibility for changing your own behaviour. Make contact with a group or service who may be able to assist you with this.
What about my children?
Domestic abuse can affect children physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially. Every child is different and may show some or none of the behaviours below:
bedwetting, stomach aches, headaches, sleep disturbances, nightmares, depression, feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, poor personal hygiene, tired and lethargic, desensitisation to pain, regression in development tasks, for example, thumb sucking, aggression – out of control behaviour, difficulty in trusting others, overachiever or underachiever, holding themselves responsible for the abuse and feeling guilty.
Talking to the children about what has been happening can help them feel less powerless, confused or angry. Talk, listen and try to be honest about the situation with them.
You can choose to stop
To get help and more information, contact national Respect Phoneline online or call 0808 8024040.