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Confronting Domestic Abuse

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“I m not sure what’s more terrifying, leaving my husband or fearing his next attack? I used to be a confident person; I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel worthless and paralyzed. Please help!”

Unfortunately this touching letter is not a singular cry from a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence (when physical abuse is involved). This problem is widespread and happens among many partnerships, married or not; heterosexual or same sex couples, all ethnic or financial groups. While women are more often the victims, men too are abused. Abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical has only one aim; to give the abuser complete and continued control of his victim. Abusers hardly ever change. They are very clever making the abused feel that their attacks are solely their fault of their victims. Abusers will intimidate, threaten, isolate the abused because they need to be in charge and will use any means to achieve their goal including outright brutality.

The victim can only escape this doomful existence by recognizing and dealing with the tell tale signs of abuse. Like alcoholics, the victim has to face the fact that she or he is in an abusive relationship and make the conscious decision to get help, to get out.

How to recognize if you’re in an abusive relationship:
• Are you often afraid of your partner?
• Worried about provoking his anger by what you say or do?
• Do you feel lost and worthless, shut down and see no way out?
• Believe you’re at fault for your partner’s outbursts?
• Do you feel humiliated, put down, criticized? Are you yelled at or threatened?
• Does your partner control where you go, what you do and check up on you?
• Do you feel isolated and fearful of asking for help?
• Does the abuser hurt you or threaten to do so, or worse, kill you?
• Do you think you have to ask for permission for anything you do?

Nobody has to live in fear. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are probably in an abusive relationship. Know that you can terminate it and build a new life of dignity and happiness, even if the hurdles seem insurmountable. Many help groups are listed on the web.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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