How can you recognise if you are in an abusive relationship? Sometimes the signs are very clear. However, abuse can also be more subtle, or can start off subtle and escalate into a very serious problem.
Sometimes there can be a feeling that something is not quite right, but it is difficult to pinpoint what is wrong. If you find yourself having a feeling of dread, or feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner, this can be a sign that something is wrong. Abuse can start subtly, and may take the form of extreme jealousy, interrogation about where you’ve been or who you’ve been with, controlling behaviour, or possessiveness. It can also begin by your partner slowly trying to isolate you from your friends and family. Some people I’ve worked with have found that, over years, they have slowly lost contact with friends and family, which makes getting out of the relationship that much harder.
Abuse can, however, also be more explicit. If your partner frequently puts you down or ignores you, this can be a clear sign that you are living in an abusive relationship. Of course, sometimes abuse can become physical. If you have ever been physically assaulted, injured, or feared for your life as a result of the actions of your partner, this is an extremely serious situation and it is important to take action. If you are planning to leave your relationship, it is important to have a plan of how you will do this, and seek support from friends or family, as well as professionals.
There are several options for assistance. The Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association (1800 184 527) provides free telephone counselling to GLBTIQ callers. The National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line (1800 737 732) provides 24 hour counselling to anyone who has experienced, or is at risk of experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault. We also work with people in abusive relationships at the Centre for Human Potential (3211 1117). If you are at immediate risk of harm you should call 000.