Experiencing domestic and sexual violence is isolating and traumatising, but there is help available. See the resources and information below to get support.
It can sometimes be difficult to realize that you are in an abusive relationship, especially if your partner is normalizing their behaviour, or making you feel bad for questioning them. Remember, once you realize that your relationship is unhealthy or abusive, there is help available.
Commonwealth Says NO MORE has compiled a list of national helplines and resources for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. See it here.
There are some important signs that can help you recognize that what you are experiencing is abuse.
Here are some examples:
Controlling and monitoring what you do
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Controlling what you wear
- Controlling your money and what you spend it on, or making you account for every penny spent
- Forcing you to ask for permission to leave the room/house
- Making you hand over your passwords (phone, social media, email etc.) so that they can keep track of who you talk to and what you do
- Forcing you to give up work or study
- Making you answer calls or texts from them immediately and becoming angry or jealous if you don’t
- Monitoring the car mileage to see how many miles you’ve driven
- Making you “earn” their trust
- Constantly accusing you of cheating or flirting with others
- Ignoring you for long periods until you do something that pleases them
- Lying often to manipulate you
- Making statements like “If you love me more than your family/friends, you will …..”
Putting you down
- Criticizing you and putting you down in private and in public
- Embarrassing you, often in front of family and friends
- Destroying your property or things you care about
- Making fun of your religion, politics, or other deeply held beliefs
- Calling you names and saying you are worthless
- Making hurtful comments and playing them off as a “joke”
Making you think you are the one in the wrong
- Blaming you for their abusive behaviour
- Denying that they are being abusive
- Playing mind games with you to make you unsure of your own judgment, memory, or perception (this is known as “gaslighting”)
- Gaslighting you by moving household objects or controlling tech features in the house
- Forcing you to alter your behaviour or “walk on eggshells” to stop them from becoming angry or violent
Making you do things you don’t want to do
- Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to
- Making you dress in a sexual way
- Making threats and intimidation to force you to do things – such as ‘the children will be taken away’ or threatening to ‘out you’ to your family or employer if you are in a same-sex relationship.
- Stopping you from taking, or forcing you to take birth control (depending on your wishes)
Physically hurting, or threatening to hurt you and/or your loved ones
- Hurting you physically – by punching, kicking, biting, strangling, slapping, kicking etc.
- Using a weapon to threaten you
- Making household objects into weapons (e.g. throwing a remote control at you, using an iron to burn you)
- Threatening to kill you, loved ones, or him/herself if you don’t comply with their wishes
- Stopping you from eating or sleeping properly
- Stopping you from obtaining medical help when you need it
If you recognize one or more of these signs, you may be experiencing domestic violence.
Admitting to yourself that you are being abused is not easy–but remember, none of this is your fault. Abusers are experts at manipulation and control.
Help is available for you whenever you are ready.
If any of the characteristics above apply to your relationship and you are seeking support, visit our resources library for a list of national and specialist resources. Remember that if you or someone else you know is in immediate danger, call the police.
If you are thinking of leaving an abusive relationship, it is critical to remember that this is a very dangerous time. Leaving may not be possible and the risks can be great. It is important to keep yourself as safe as you can while you are making your decision. Here are a few suggestions:
Information is power
- Does your community support women who are escaping abuse?
- If so, is it safe for you to reach out to these networks?
- Think about the risks and benefits of leaving.
- Assess and prepare for the risks to you and your children—identify the level of force that your partner is capable of and the laws of your country in relation to child custody.
- Consider how you can more safely use technology and social media.
- Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including in a crisis.
- Think about what you would do if you needed to leave urgently—prepare a plan in your head, or ask one of the support agencies to help you with an emergency plan.
- Think about what you would do if your children tell your partner of your plan or if your partner otherwise finds out about your plan.
- Always consider how you would stay safe—where can you hide or exit a room or building?
- Always have a small amount of money on you—for emergency bus fares or public phone calls.
- Keep in regular contact with people who can support you, like friends, family etc.
- Create a code word, phrase, or visual signal that can be given to trusted friends to make them aware that you are in danger and need help.
- Teach your children that violence is wrong, and that they should not get involved. If you think it is appropriate, tell them how to get help and plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
- If an argument occurs, try to stay away from areas where there are likely to be knives and other weapons. Identify safe areas of the house where there are ways to escape. Also avoid rooms where you might be trapped (e.g. bathroom) and move to somewhere with a way out or access to a telephone.
- Keep household items that can be used as weapons (e.g. knives) locked away and as inaccessible as possible.
- Though a planned escape is always the safest way to leave, you might need to flee in an emergency. Work out which is the fastest escape route, and try to make sure it is always kept clear.
- If you have neighbours that you trust, tell them what is going on, and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
- Prepare an emergency bag that you could leave with a trusted friend/family member nearby. (If this is unsafe, remember the following items to take with you if you need to leave in a hurry):
- Your forms of identification
- Important paperwork (from bank, schools etc.)
- A week (or more)’s worth of any medication for you/the children
- Change of clothes
- If you have a car, keep it fuelled with the driver’s door unlocked for a quick escape.
- For more information, visit the UN’s Safety Planning Guide.
- If you have a mobile phone, keep it charged up and on you at all times, and know your key contact support number. If your life is in danger, call the police.
- If you use the internet to look for support, cover your tracks online (see the ‘Online Safety’ section).
Personal Strength and Self-Belief
Emotional safety can be different for everyone, but remembering the following can help you to accept your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse.
- Stay strong and remember—the abuse is not your fault.
- Don’t feel ashamed, you have done nothing wrong.
- Remind yourself that you have great value and are important and special. The abuse has no reflection on the great value you have as a person.
- You deserve to be kind to yourself. Take time to practise self-care every day, even if just for a few minutes. Giving yourself breaks and stepping back from your situation will help you make the decisions that are best for you.
Use your judgement and intuition. You know the abuser best.
Online services and social media should be open and safe for everyone to use. We know that perpetrators of domestic and sexual violence often use online tools to abuse their victims.
The internet can quickly become a scary place to interact. Concerns about privacy invasion, stalking, harassment, impersonation, non-consensual intimate sharing, and other threats can leave people feeling isolated. Online abuse can include behaviours such as monitoring of social media profiles or emails, abuse over social media such as Facebook or Twitter, sharing intimate photos or videos without consent, using GPs locators or spyware.
Below is a link to information about the online safety
CHAYN is a global volunteer network addressing gender-based violence by creating intersectional survivor-led resources online