Abusive relationships take many forms
A look at the various components of abusive relationships.
Header photo via.
Today you may have seen a pretty confronting piece regarding CHVRCHES' frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, who has published an essay about an abusive ex-partner to run in Lena Denham's newsletter Lenny's Letter. While the full essay isn't published until tomorrow, an excerpt from it has been doing the rounds, and it's a strong message that it can be easy to fall into an abusive relationship, and a hell of a lot harder to get out of it.
Abusive relationships can take many forms, as Madison McLerie outlines below:
An abusive relationship is a relationship in which harmful dominance is asserted by one partner over the other, most often in the form of either emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Raising the subject of an abusive relationship with a victim is no easy undertaking. Explaining to a victim they’re a victim can seem a long and arduous uphill battle of reasoning and irrationality. Whilst the abuser's manner of manipulation and tactics of abuse are often painstakingly obvious to an outsider aware of the situation (so obvious that we often struggle to comprehend a person’s compliance to stay), the victim's awareness of the situation is often different.
One must keep in mind the perspective of the victim, and not be condescending, because victims of abuse are commonly manipulated by their partner into staying in the relationship. It is ignorant to propose victims enjoy or gain anything from the degradation and exploitation often unknowingly inflicted upon them.
The nature of an abusive relationship is that of dominance and submission. Abusive partners frequently damage the victim’s sense of security, and provide them with a false sense of optimism, which results in the victim depending upon the abuser for nurture and reassurance. Hence, although we may undoubtedly see evidence of an unhealthy relationship, this should not warrant our dismissal or judgment of the victim’s unwillingness to change their situation.
Regarding sexual assault in relationships, society has taught victims they are not victims. There is the notion that being in a relationship implies constant consent, a false sense of entitlement. The definition of sexual assault remains unchanged regardless of your relationship with the person. Sexual abuse in relationships varies from demanding/forcing sex to dictating decisions about pregnancy and/or abortion. It can also include unwanted touching, visually recording sex acts without permission and refusing to comply with safe sex practices among other instances. Regardless of the relationship status, consent still needs to be given when preforming/receiving sex acts and/or intercourse. Rape and sexual assault are not themselves acts of sex, but acts of violence along with other acts of physical abuse such as hitting, biting, choking, pushing and kicking. What stops some from leaving these relationships are an unawareness of what characterises abuse.
Emotional abuse includes intimidation, verbal assault, threats, humiliation, isolation and threatening to harm themselves or others to manipulate a person into staying. Denial on both behalves and victim-blaming only feeds into the cycle of behaviour. Emotional abuse is a huge contributing factor to the victim’s warped perception of the situation, although emotional abuse leaves no marks it can be just as damaging as other means of abuse. Societal victim blaming, as well as the abuser using blame as a tactic of control, often leave victims feeling shamed into staying. The gendered stigma regarding domestic abuse against men in relationships frequently sees them suffer in silence.
Those who willingly and knowingly inflict pain upon you have no genuine interest in your wellbeing. Alcohol, drugs or a heated situation are no excuse. Abusive relationships transcend that of the stereotype, they do not discriminate against socio-economic backgrounds, sex, age or race. An unsettling reality is that any relationship, no matter who it is between, can have hidden elements of abuse.
You can also call Government Domestic Violence Helplines:
1800 007 339 (women)
1800 000 599 (men)
1800 RESPECT Counselling
1800 737 732