Around 60% of people have experienced abuse, 29% of which was at the hands of a romantic/sexual partner. Despite these shockingly high statistics, there is still a stigma around abuse; the victim is blamed by both the abuser and by society. The victim is constantly told by the abuser that they are the problem, and are then told by society that they’re weak because they’ve experienced physical/emotional abuse, or that they’re a slut because they’ve experienced sexual abuse.
Everyone needs to be educated about the reality of abuse, the impact it has on the victim, and the signs of abuse so that it can be prevented if possible. Victims of abuse deserve support to rebuild their lives that were damaged by the abuser, and the abuser alone. There are many forms of abuse in relationships, but all can be equally as psychologically damaging to the victim.
Physical abuse can leave scars, permanent bodily damage, psychological issues, and can threaten the life of the victim. Defined as any intentional act causing injury or trauma, physical abuse is the use violence to control a partner. Although the majority of victims of domestic abuse are female, men can also be victims and can be equally as damaged by the abuse. Physical abuse is essentially any act of violence such as violent threats, beatings (i.e. hitting/slapping) and even use of weapons with the aim to control, harm and diminish the victim. Although these acts leave the victim with visible marks, the abuser often forces the victim to cover them, or make up excuses for them, and a big issue with physical abuse is fear of disobeying the abuser as this could result in further beatings, causing even more psychological trauma. There is definitely a stigma around physical abuse in society; I’ve heard some truly upsetting things about it, particularly some saying that it’s the victims fault for allowing the abuser to attack them in the first place which is a sign of weakness. The abuser wants the victim to feel weak by physically dominating them, but this does not have anything to do with the victim, and of course abusers are usually threatening and manipulative making it harder to speak out against them. The violence is entirely the fault of the abusers and has nothing to do with the victim. Another issue is once the scars and bruises have healed, victims often do not receive any support because there is no physical evidence of abuse, however the impact it has on the mental health of the individual is ongoing, as violence can cause trauma, depression and anxiety meaning the victim is entitled to continued support. Regardless of the situation in the relationship, it is never ok to inflict violence on a partner, and it is never ok to blame the victim.
Emotional abuse is defined as any act of isolation, verbal assault or humiliation that may diminish self-worth and sense of identity. Although it is fairly common is often overlooked by society because it leaves no physical mark, however it can be equally as psychologically damaging as other forms of abuse and can lead to feelings of depression, worthlessness, and a fear that you’re unloveable. An issue with emotional abuse is that it can be hard to distinguish between an argument, and abusive behaviour. Arguments are normal in all kinds of relationships, whether it be with friends, family, or a partner, however abuse begins when you feel you’re constantly walking on eggshells. It may take many different forms; controlling your social life, harsh insults and harassment (directed either at you or your loved ones), constant and purposeful withdrawal of affection (to isolate the victim) unless it suits them, or consistent moodiness that is taken out on you (note the word consistent, we all have bad days if someone continually takes their anger of on you for a long period of time, it’s not acceptable and is very damaging to the person on the receiving end). With all abusive relationships, it’s hard to raise the issues with your partner due to fear of further abuse, and in emotionally abusive relationships, the manipulative nature of an emotional abuser makes it incredibly hard to stand your ground when discussing your feelings about how you’re being treated. Emotional abusers tend to disregard your feelings, tell you you’re over sensitive, and say you’re obsessive, which gives the victim a sense that they are the problem, and further diminishes their self-worth. Although many of us tend to take their anger out on those we’re close to, emotional abuse when the abuser continuously acts in a way that is damaging to the victim, and even though all partners argue, psychologically damaging someone is never ok.
Sexual abuse is common, and the abuser may often be a complete stranger to the victim. However sexual abuse in sexual relationships is often overlooked too as unfortunately many believe once you’re in a relationship with someone, consent is no longer needed, which is so far from the truth. Many just associate sexual abuse with rape (which is arguably the most violent form of sexual abuse), however sexual abuse may come in a variety of forms, such as taking non consensual nude photos (and sharing them online) and withholding sex/affection to control the victim. Regardless of whether two people are in a relationship, no means no. If your partner doesn’t want to have sex, they haven’t provided you with consent, and therefore if you have sex with them despite this, it’s rape. It violates the victim’s body and is psychologically scarring regardless of whether the abuser be a stranger or a partner. Sharing of explicit photos can also be equally as damaging; it exposes the victim for the internet to see, and in some infamous cases has led to cyber bullying and suicide. All forms of sexual abuse harm the victim; many survivors of sexual abuse suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and experience the feeling of being unclean after the event. The impacts of sexual abuse are worsened by society’s view towards women and men who have been abused, saying that the victim is to blame because they were dressed inappropriately, or that they intoxicated. But it doesn’t matter what the victim was wearing, or how much they’d had to drink; sexual abuse is the fault of the abuser and no one else. Sexual abuse can be severly damaging, and this damage is only worsened when the victim is blamed for the abusers actions. Regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, consent is still needed, and saying that the victim encouraged the act is never true, and never an excuse.
No matter what form the abuse may take, it’s never acceptable to harm your partner, and then blame them for your abusive actions. There is no excuse. And it’s time the victims got the support they deserve.
*I do not own the image. Photo credits to:https://userscontent2.emaze.com/images/edd6daab-839d-47b3-bfc6-8b34817369cd/60589771c8393432d354fe17981d3c8a.jpg