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Welcome to "Am I Being Abused?", a website dedicated to helping women to get out of abusive relationships by empowering them with all the knowledge and information they will need to make the decision to leave. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Something is not quite right...

So here you are reading through this website.  Looking for a way to understand what is going on around you.  Are you tired of being run down? Are you frustrated having your things confiscated? Do you fear your partner? Is your partner belittling and controlling? Are there calls every few minutes when you need to run down to the supermarket for some groceries?  Your partner may be picking fights with you over irrational things and you are just trying to keep them happy by trying harder.  If you could just try harder, you could fix things.  Perhaps you are being blamed for everything that goes wrong in their life.  Isolated from your friends and family, you have no one left to talk to and even the ones you did talk to, would not believe you because your partner has been so charming and charismatic.  Do you fear their reaction about anything?  Is their response to “minor” things totally irrational, leaving you wondering about your own sanity? They may have harmed you physically and then broken down in tears, begging for your forgiveness, promising it would never happen again.

 

All the points mentioned are forms of abuse and we encourage you to read on and start to clarify what is really going on in your relationship.

 

Am I being abused?

 

How you think and feel?

 

Do you:

 

  • Feel like your boundaries have been violated?
  • Fear your partner?
  • Fear your partner’s reaction?
  • Censor what you tell them?
  • Feel disconnected from your feelings?
  • Wonder which one of you is crazy?
  • Feel helpless or emotionally numb?

 

How your partner behaves:

 

Does your partner...

  • Treat you like a sex object or their property, rather than a person?
  • Disregard or diminish your accomplishments or opinions?
  • Humiliate or yell at you?
  • Blame you for their own abusive behaviour?
  • Treat you so badly that you are embarrassed for your friends and family to see?
  • Put you down and criticize you?

 

Your partner’s threats or violent behaviour:

 

Does your partner...

 

  • Force you to have sex?
  • Threaten to harm or kill you, or harm you?
  • Hurt your children, or threaten to take them away?
  • Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • Confiscate, or destroy your belongings?
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

 

Your partner’s controlling behaviour

 

Does your partner...

 

  • Control where you go and what you do?
  • When they do let you go, do they constantly check up on you?
  • Restrict your access to money, the car or the phone?
  • Act in an excessively possessive or jealous manner?
  • Keep you from seeing family or friends?

 

Physical abuse

 

Perhaps the most easily identifiable form of abuse is physical, because SOMETIMES you can actually see and feel it taking place.  It is important to note that this abusive behaviour does not always cause pain or leave a bruise.  Too many people remain in physically abusive relationships by justifying the abuse, telling themselves, “It’s not that bad”, comparing the abuse to something that they have seen on the television, or in movies.

 

Physical abuse is any unwanted contact with you, or something close to your body!

 

Some examples of physical abuse include:

 

  • Restraining, pushing or pulling you
  • Grabbing your clothing
  • Pulling your hair
  • Holding your face to force you to look at them
  • Throwing objects at you
  • Punching, slapping, scratching, strangling, biting or kicking
  • Restraining you from going, or forcing you to go somewhere
  • Forcing you to perform a sexual act, or to have sex
  • Using a bat, knife, gun or any other weapon
  • Smacking your bottom without your consent
  • Reckless driving

 

Emotional, mental and verbal abuse

 

Emotional, mental and verbal abuse usually start off very subtly, but they can lead to or be the precursor of physical abuse.  Emotional abuse really is abuse, it may not cause physical damage, but the scars run deep and are sometimes harder to heal because it’s more difficult to acknowledge. It’s similar to a frog in a pot of hot water.  If you start with cold water in the pot, the frog doesn’t feel the temperature increasing slowly and adjusts to compensate, until it’s too late.  If boiling water was added to the pot from the get go, the frog would feel it and jump out.   There are many behaviours that qualify as emotional, or verbal abuse.  They include non-physical behaviours such as insults, threats, humiliation, constant monitoring or checking in, intimidation, name calling, stalking or isolation.

 

Some more examples of this kind of abuse include:

 

  • Damaging things around you, or your property when they are angry; kicking doors, punching walls, throwing objects
  • Screaming or yelling at you
  • Intentionally, publicly humiliating you
  • Using cell phones, or online communities or applications to control, intimidate or embarrass you
  • Threatening to take, or have your children taken away from you
  • Threatening to harm you, your children, pet or loved ones
  • Threatening to commit suicide if you try to leave them
  • Threatening to expose your secrets that you have shared with them
  • Blaming you for their unhealthy actions, or abusive behaviour
  • Stalking you
  • Jealousy of your other relationships (that can even be your relationship with your own mother)
  • Frequently accusing you of cheating
  • Controlling what you do or wear
  • Manipulating or confusing you
  • Preventing, or restricting you seeing other friends and family
  • Calling you names and putting you down
  • Spreading rumours about you
  • Claiming the truth, being the authority.  Claiming the right to define what is logical, rational and reasonable within the relationship

 

Sexual Abuse

 

Sexual abuse is any form of unwanted of sexual activity.  Whether its rape, restriction of birth control, behaviour that hinders a person controlling the environment, or way in which sexual activity occurs or even removing the right of an individual to protect themselves from HIV and STI’s. Most sexual abuse is perpetrated by a person that you know and not a stranger.  Victims of sexual abuse may not be able to resist.  Sometimes they may have been intoxicated, intimidated, obligated, threatened, or at risk of further sexual or physical abuse.  Their inability to say “no”, did not mean “yes”.

 

Some more examples of this kind of abused include:

 

  • Disallowing you to protect yourself from STI’s or HIV
  • Limiting your access to birth control or refusing to wear a condom
  • Threatening or obligating you into unwanted sexual activity
  • Forcing you to have sex or to perform sexual acts
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity
  • Rape, martial rape or attempted rape
  • Unwanted kissing or touching
  • Being sexually insulting
  • Sexual contact with you while you are intoxicated, unconscious, or unable to give an informed and clear “yes”

 

What equality look like vs power and control

 

Child Abuse

 

Child abuse is defined as the physical maltreatment, neglect, emotional abuse or sexual molestation of a child, either through action, or failing to act.  

 

Some examples of this type of abuse include:

 

Physical

 

  • Punching a child in the face
  • Shaking a child by the shoulders
  • Kicking a child in the back
  • Hitting a child violently
  • Biting the child’s legs
  • Throwing a child into a wall
  • Burning the child’s hands with a cigarette butt, or iron

 

Sexual

 

  • Showing pornographic material to a child
  • Having a child act or pose in a sexual way
  • Child prostitution
  • Rape
  • Oral sex
  • Having sexual relations with a child younger than 16 years old
  • Penetrating a child’s anus or vagina with any object or body part
  • Making a child watch a sexual act
  • Kissing a child in a sexual way
  • Touching or holding a child in a sexual way

 

Emotional

 

  • Bullying and hostility
  • Isolation
  • Rejection
  • Humiliation
  • Shaming
  • Yelling
  • Exposing a child to domestic and family violence
  • Neglect of
  • Personal hygiene and hygienic living conditions
  • Health care and provision of timeous medical treatment
  • Suitable and sufficient clothing and food
  • Appropriate supervision


I am being abused, but now what?

 

Firstly, well done for realising what is happening to you and having the courage to start looking for the answers.  Its normal to be anxious, feel scared, or helpless.  The power to change your circumstances really is in your hands.  Many men and women faced with the same choices have chosen to put an end to their abuse.  You can too!

 

Deciding to leave

 

It might take you a while to come to this decision, or perhaps you might need to leave immediately. You can also leave before it becomes an emergency. However it happens, it helps to have some sort of exit plan in place that will help you to continue with your life after you depart.  If you can, enlist the support of close friends, family and a counsellor or psychologist.

 

Your exit admin:

 

Gather all of your official documents like ID’s, passports, marriage certificate, birth certificates, antenuptial agreement, last will and testament, proof of address, life insurance details, medical aid , policies, investment documentations, documents relating to custody of children and car/home finance and banking information.

 

  • Pack your phone or address book.
  • Take vehicle registration paperwork, car insurance details and driver’s license.
  • Put some money aside and take your necessary bank cards.
  • Get copies of or take your house keys and car keys.
  • Take all sentimental items that you can’t replace like photos.
  • Make arrangements for pets.
  • Pack a bag of clothes for yourself and your children with their favourite toys.
  • Medication you may need.
  • Plan the exit route, where you are going and how you are going to get there.  For ladies who do not have a family member, or friend to go and stay at, here is a list of safe houses situated around South Africa *insert link* dep soc gov

 

How on earth did this happen to me?

 

Abuse normally starts very subtly. Trivial statements like; “You’re just imagining things”.  “I never said that, you tend to have a bad memory”.  “You’re crazy, that never happened”. Before you know it, you are second guessing yourself, questioning what is really true, even questioning your own sanity.  This is referred to by professionals as “gaslighting”.  The term stems from a 1938 play called “Gas Light”.  In the play, the husband dims the gas lights in their home, and when his wife questions it, he denies it.  This is a very effective way to cause a victim to start questioning their own sanity, day in and day out,  eroding their ability to trust their own perceptions, giving their abuser more power over them and making it harder for the victim to leave the relationship.  Over time this increases in frequency and escalates in severity, and the victim becomes anxious, confused, isolated and depressed.  They may even start relying more heavily on the abuser to confirm their reality, creating, as you can imagine an increasingly more difficult environment for the victim to escape.


Some of the following techniques may be used by an abuser:

 

Denial/Forgetting
The abuser will deny that something took place, or deny a promise made to the victim.  The abuser might also forget that something happened.

Diverting/Blocking
The abuser questions the victim’s thoughts or changes the subject.  “Is that another crazy idea you got from your mother”?

Trivialising
The abuser dismisses and underplays the victim’s thoughts or emotions, making them seem insignificant.  “You’re too sensitive”.  

Withholding
The abuser refuses to listen or makes as if they do not understand. “You’re just trying to confuse me”.  “I don’t want to hear that again”.

Countering
The abuser questions the victim’s recollection of events, even if the victim’s recollection is perfectly clear.  “You are wrong, you never remember things correctly”.