Am I being abused? FAQs

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Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t like how you’re being treated but it’s confusing. Is it abuse?

Post: Am I being abused? FAQs

How do I know?

Love is very blind and sometimes you’re so blinded that you don’t even realise you’re being abused.

See Amy’s story

  • 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.

See Andrea’s story

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.

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8 Responses to “Am I being abused? FAQs”

  1. My ex did this all the time, but I never FULLY realised until a couple of weeks ago. Then he dumped me via facebook, and said it was all my fault :(

  2. Hi Jess

    That’s a horrible way for a relationship to end.

    Facebook should be a happy space where you hear about what all your friends are doing, not somewhere to get dumped.

    But from what you’ve said, it sounds like you had a rough time in your relationship.

    Abusive guys blame their girlfriends so:

    1. they don’t have to take responsibility for breaking up and

    2. they can be the ones in control and doing the blaming.

    Maybe during the relationship, you found yourself confused and unable to defend yourself? Were you made to feel bad for doing things like hanging out with your friends, talking to boys, sending text messages or making your own decisions?

    Emotional abuse is a really effective way to maintain power in a relationship. Relationships take two people to work AND to fail, and usually it’s not “all” someone’s fault …

    Maybe it would be good to talk to someone – see After the breakup – how u doing?

    Good luck.

  3. My boyfriend is really controlling and i dont know what to do anymore hes always telling me what to do, he dont let me talk to any guys or them to me not even my friend, he dont let me go out not even outside, he dont let me do my hair or even wear what i want he hits me when ever i dont listen to him and he want everything his way i dont know what to do i broke up with his before but he does’ent leave me alone i love him and am scared to tell anyone what should i do please help am 16 years and i cant live my life .!!

  4. Thank you for leaving a message on our site.

    It must have taken a lot of courage to write about what’s happening in your relationship.

    It is very clear that your boyfriend is violent and abusive and that you are in danger. You mentioned he hits you when he doesn’t get his way. You also said other things he does, like controlling who you talk to, where you go and how you dress.

    You always have the right to wear what you want, do your hair how you want, see and talk to who you want and go anywhere you want. These are your rights!

    And you have the right to live in safety and free from violence at all times.

    You also have the right to end the relationship if you want to and he DOESN’T have the right to keep intimidating you if you do end the relationship.

    There are laws against his violence. Please remember, none of what is happening to you is your fault. Your boyfriend is choosing to use violence and be abusive.

    Trying to survive through such serious violence must be very frightening and its no wonder you feel you can’t live your life. He is stopping you – by using violence.

    You have a very good understanding of what is happening to you and you also know how wrong it is – but it can still be really hard to talk to someone about the violence and abuse in your relationship.

    If you are at school, is there a student counseller you feel you can trust? Or you can contact your nearest Domestic Violence Service by phone and speak to someone anonymously and confidentially. They can talk with you about options and ways to make yourself safer.

    If you’re in Australia, try these numbers or websites. There’s advice on things you could do on our website: Get Help

    You are experiencing very serious abuse and we hope you contact someone for help and advice as soon as you can.

    Take care

  5. I recently just broke off with my bf of 5 years . The reason we broke off is because we constantly n he was being very physical wit me.. He would hit me whenever I did something wrong … I know also has week points n negative traits … It would right if he wanted me to change my bad points.. So for him when I do something wrong he would b yellin n screaming at me.. Sometimes if he couldn’t take he would hit me really hard that wud leave bruises on my body… Now that we finally broke off.. He claims that it’s all my fault n dat he hits me to change me n we wud see in three years time whether we cud continue… Wat should I do… Does he really hv a right to treat me this way bcos of my weak points I really love him… But thought about him bein physical just fears… The thing dat I’m wondering right now is if I really change .. Wud things between us be better or r my weak points just an xcuse for to b voilent with me? Pls I really need helpin this matter… Should I give this another try?

  6. Hi Tee – thanks for your brave comment.

    It sounds like being in that violent relationship would have been very frightening and confusing. It is absolutely not ok that your ex-boyfriend uses violence to ‘change you’. No one EVER ever has ANY excuse to use violence, whether it’s physical or verbal or emotional or psychological. By using violence, by hitting you, leaving bruises and yelling and screaming at you, he is controlling you through fear. You have the right to be and feel safe at all times in a relationship. If someone you love is telling you you have ‘weak points and negative traits’ it can be easy to believe them and sometimes it is even easy to believe that we deserve the violence. This is never true. There are many ways to communicate in a relationship and none of them involve violence. You are absolutely correct when you say your boyfried is using excuses and trying to justify his violence because of your ‘weak points’. People who use violence and controlling behaviour to get what they want in a relationship will always find some excuse for their behaviour and we hear from lots of people that no matter how much they try to ‘change’ themselves to ‘please’ the violent partner (which is actually about trying to protect themselves from futher violence) the violence doesn’t stop.

    There are services that can help and provide you with anonymous and confidential support. It can be really helpful to talk to someone who specialises in supporting women who are or who have been experiencing violence in a relationship because being in a frightening situation like yours doesn’t allow you any time or space to think about anything except how to try to survive the violence.

  7. Im not sure if my bf is abusive or what. I believe aex is worth waiting for but he pressure me all thei time yo where we pretty much do it amd im never happy about it. Hell put me down for wanting to bbysit my nephew or get mad at me for wantong to watch a movie with my sister. He always talks to this girl hes even ended up in her bedroom but he says im wrong for wanting him to never talk tp her agaon. My gut tells me I camt trust him anymore ive lost my best amd only friend cza him. And je always says I over react but my heaty is sayin im not. Im 21 nd have bad self esteem bc even still I get bullied md its always been hard.for me to talk bout my feelings nd I have a problem I deal woth it the wrong way no one but me know how but he says if he ev er.finds.put witj how I am hes leavon me.. Hes made it to the point to whete he is al that I have I dont know what do to

  8. this guy will text me and we used to be best friends but all he talks about is sex, and im afraid that he might try to rape me. should i tell my parents? im only 14. i dont want him to take over my life. he talks about in what he wants to do to me, i try to ignore him but he yells at me if i dont talk to him. what should i do.