Am I being abused? FAQs
Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t like how you’re being treated but it’s confusing. Is it abuse?
How do I know?
Love is very blind and sometimes you’re so blinded that you don’t even realise you’re being abused.
- Remember, abuse is not just physical. It can be excessive jealousy, constant calls or texts to keep tabs on you, sexual demands and pressure, suicide threats to make you feel like you can’t leave, and other things. See What is abuse?
- Listen to your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- Don’t ignore the negatives. Love is exciting, and often you just want to think about the nice things and the romance, and you ignore all the times they’ve been mean or demanding or abusive. Abuse is hard to accept. But for your own sake, don’t ignore it.
- Think about how this relationship has affected you. Are you less confident since you’ve been in this relationship? Are you are always on guard? These are not good signs.
- Give yourself time to think. Have a break from each other and talk to other people, so you can work out what’s happening in your relationship.
- What do you friends and family think? if they’re concerned about you and they way you’re being treated, that’s not a good sign.
- Read the stories. Most people who are abused take a while to work out what’s going on.
- Take the quiz: Good, bad or ugly? or Is it love or control?
Is it abuse if they’ve never actually hit me?
My girlfriend often puts me down, laughs at how I look, and humiliates me in front of our friends. Whenever I’ve said I’ve had enough, she has implied that if I leave she will ‘out’ me to my family. But she’s never actually hit me. Is this abuse?
Yes. Abuse is not only physical, and in some abusive relationships there is never any actual physical violence.
Ongoing emotional abuse (which includes manipulating you, controlling you, hurting your feelings, destroying your confidence) can be very damaging to your self-esteem and can leave you feeling confused, alone and trapped.
Threatening to ‘out’ you as a way of keeping you in the relationship is also a form of abuse.
Her behaviour is not ok. Take this abuse seriously, and think about how it is affecting you and what you can do about it.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells around him because literally anything I said or did could upset him…Just because he’s not hitting you does not mean you’re not being hurt.
What if they say they love me?
He can be so sweet and passionate, and it’s fantastic. But then every so often there’s this dominating and aggressive attitude that comes out. He has a way of turning things around to look like I’ve done the wrong thing. I get upset but then he turns on the charm and I forget all the rest. I spend a lot of time wondering if he really loves me or not.
Love isn’t just about what you say (like ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m sorry’) or how you feel – it’s about how you treat other people.
Someone who is abusive may genuinely think they feel love for you, but they don’t always have respect for you.
They may love having a feeling of control and ownership over you, or having some who is available to have sex with – but this doesn’t mean they really love you as a person in your own right.
If they only love you on condition that you do what they want you to, then this isn’t the basis for a good relationship. Real love means respecting the other person, accepting their independence, caring about them, and valuing them for who they are.
Someone who is abusive might be passionate and loving at times, and this can make you think everything’s ok. But be careful. Someone who tries to hurt or control you can be dangerous – they don’t have your interests at heart.
He says I’m the one who’s abusive – is that right?
He’s often aggressive and always jealous. If I don’t do what he says, he tells me he’ll ‘punch the crap’ of me. Normally I’m scared of him, but once when he was screaming at me for talking to a guy in my class, I was so fed up that I slapped him.
Now he says I’m abusive towards him. Is that right?
His behaviour sounds like abuse, because he frightens you into doing what he says. Controlling who you talk to and making threats if you don’t obey is a sign of abuse.
In most relationships, the abusive person is the one who has the control and power. It sounds like you feel dominated by him and powerless against him.
Slapping isn’t ok in relationships, and you might have to accept that it wasn’t a good way to respond. But look at the bigger picture in your relationship. Does he treat you like an equal?
If he’s not letting you make your own decisions, controls who you talk to, and makes you scared to speak up for yourself, then his behaviour sounds like abuse. He may be shifting the blame onto you by saying you’re the one in the wrong, as a way of avoiding taking responsibility for how he acts.
Be careful about your own behaviour – if you use physical violence to lash out against him, he might then use it as an excuse to hurt you physically.