The term abusive refers to being cruel and violent towards other people. An abusive relationship involves treating someone in a relationship with violence, disrespect, cruelty, harm, or force. When someone treats their partner in any of these ways, it’s called an abusive relationship. There are several types of abuse in a relationship, it can be physical, sexual, or emotional. Or it could be all of these.
An abusive partner might use mean words, threats, or shaming. They might act with jealousy or controlling behavior. Or with physical or sexual violence. These things can start small and build over time. Studies have shown that abusive relationships are quite prevalent in many communities. For emotional abuse, prevalence rates are as high as 80%; 40% of women and 32% of men reported expressive aggression, and 41% of women and 43% of men report coercive control.
Facts you should Know:
- More than 1 in 3 women (6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this adds up to more than 10 million women and men.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
What Are The Warning Signs Of An Abusive Relationship?
Here are some warning signs. You might be in an abusive relationship if someone:
- harms you physically in any way. This includes hitting, pushing, shaking, or kicking.
- threatens to harm you if you leave the relationship
- threatens to harm themselves if you leave the relationship
- forces you, or tries to force you, into any type of sexual act that you don’t want
- tries to control parts of your life, like how you dress, who you hang out with, and what you say
- often shames you or makes you feel unworthy
- twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for their actions
- demands to know where you are at all times
- often acts jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
- makes mean or rude comments on social media
- demands or asks for your sign-in information for your social media accounts
What to do if you find yourself in an abusive Relationship?
According to Healthline, if you’re being physically, mentally or emotionally abused, trust your instincts. Know that it isn’t right and you don’t have to live this way. If you fear immediate physical violence, call 911 or your local emergency services.
If you aren’t in immediate danger and you need to talk or find someplace to go, visit the department of social services in your city or call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233. This 24/7 hotline can put you in touch with service providers and shelters across the United States.
Otherwise, your choices come down to the specifics of your situation. Here’s what you can do:
- Accept that the abuse isn’t your responsibility. Don’t try to reason with your abuser. You may want to help, but it’s unlikely they’ll break this pattern of behavior without professional counseling. That’s their responsibility.
- Disengage and set personal boundaries. Decide that you won’t respond to abuse or get sucked into arguments. Stick to it. Limit exposure to the abuser as much as you can.
- Exit the relationship or circumstance. If possible, cut all ties. Make it clear that it’s over and don’t look back. You might also want to find a therapist who can show you a healthy way to move forward.
- Give yourself time to heal. Reach out to supportive friends and family members. If you’re in school, talk to a teacher or guidance counselor. If you think it will help, find a therapist who can help you in your recovery.
Leaving the relationship is more complex if you’re married, have children, or have commingled assets. If that’s your situation, seek legal assistance. Here are a few other resources:
- Break the Cycle: Supporting young people between 12 and 24 to build healthy relationships and create an abuse-free culture.
- DomesticShelters.org: Educational information, hotline, and searchable database of services in your area.
- Love Is Respect (National Dating Abuse Hotline): Giving teens and young adults a chance to chat online, call, or text with advocates.