What is abuse?
When things get ugly, it’s called “abuse” – when someone does things to control, bully, or hurt someone else. It’s not just physical violence – in fact, it might not be physical at all.
Abuse can be emotional, like hurting you emotionally, putting you down, or manipulating or blackmailing you.
It can also be ‘social’ – when someone tries to control your social life and tells you who you can or can’t see, or follows you around and checks up on you.
It can be sexual, such as demanding or forcing you to do sexual things.
All forms of abuse hurt. Some of them like physical violence, sexual assault, or stalking can be criminal offences.
Abuse is when someone…
Uses jealousy and possessiveness as an excuse to make unreasonable demands
I was never allowed to have male friends because he constantly accused me of cheating.
He got mad if I’d talk to my friends or … to any guys.
Uses guilt-trips to manipulate you
When I tried to leave him, he told me that he had a gun and was going to commit suicide.
Tries to control you by telling you what to do or who you can talk to
He used to say things about my parents, he’d put them down…And he didn’t like me going out with friends. He’d crack it with me and get in a fight for no reason.
See Poppy’s story
I was told by him how to wear my hair and clothes, who I could and couldn’t be friends with and what I could and couldn’t say.
Hurts your feelings on purpose and makes you feel bad about yourself
He called me fat…and said I was stupid and would constantly build himself up by putting me down.
Keeps tabs on you and checks up on you
He would want to see any communications I had [with friends]…he even read my email.
Hurts you or scares you with violence or threats
He shoved me against the car screaming, and his exact words were ‘LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.’
It also includes hurting pets or your children or other people.
Controls your money
He checks the supermarket receipts to make sure I have only bought things that he approves of.
Pressures, tricks or forces you into sex
He would always talk me into having sex with him and said that was the only way to show him that I loved him.
Tries to cut you off from your friends or family
He would flip whenever I chose to spend time with my best friend or my family instead of him.
If you have kids, it can include making your kids think badly about you, like telling them you are a ‘bad mother’ or undermining your authority as a parent.
Controls your body or decisions about pregnancy
This includes being manipulating or pressuring you about decisions regarding pregnancy, like saying, “if you loved me you’d have my baby’, or pressuring you to have a child together because they want to trap you in the relationship.
After just a few weeks I accidentally fell pregnant to him. I was not ready for this but he talked me round with logic and charm.
Refusing to use condoms or messing around with other forms of birth control, for example, hiding your contraceptive pills.
What an abusive relationship feels like
- You feel confused about whether it’s really abuse because sometimes the other person is nice and fun to be with, or because the abuse isn’t always obvious.
- You find yourself ‘walking on eggshells’, being careful that you don’t upset them.
- The abusive person’s needs and opinions dominate, and you feel controlled by them.
- See How do I feel?
Images from Red Flag Campaign posters – download, print and put them up at your school, TAFE or uni.