Are you concerned about your relationship with a partner, boyfriend or husband? It can be very hard to realize or even believe that such a person could be abusing you. But domestic abuse happens to women (and some men) from every culture, race, age group, religion or occupation, and it may be happening to you. If you are being abused, you are not alone, as it is estimated that 40 percent of all women will be hurt by domestic violence during their lifetimes. Most cases of domestic abuse are committed by men against women, but abuse also occurs within gay and lesbian couples, and occasionally by women against men.
Physical violence is one form of abuse. But abuse can also occur by verbal attacks, emotional cruelty or sexual acts. Sometimes abuse starts with verbal attacks and turns to physical or sexual violence. Since disagreements and arguments are part of almost every intimate relationship, you may have difficulty telling when normal arguing leads to abuse. But remember that you are the ultimate judge. Take seriously any suspicions you have that a relationship has become abusive.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. This is not your fault. You are not causing your partner's behavior and you do not deserve to be treated this way. Help is available. There are laws and programs to protect you and your children.
It is essential to your health and the health of your children that you get the help you need. Domestic violence and child abuse are closely related. Children of abused mothers are more likely to be abused themselves. Even witnessing violence can be as traumatic for a child as being a direct victim of violence. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to have behavior and health problems, and may become victims or perpetrators of violence as adults.
If you have been abused and you are in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police for emergency assistance.
It can be difficult to leave an abusive relationship — there are many complicated reasons why people feel so attached — but abuse is never justified. Remember that you are not alone; there are people who will support and help you (and your children) through this, physically and emotionally.