Sometimes, a partner in the relationship chooses to control and hurt, or abuse, their partner. This is not “just a relationship issue”, it is abuse by one person on another.
Often we don’t recognise that we are being abused, because no physical abuse has taken place. Abuse can take many forms such as emotional, psychological, monetary, verbal, sexual as well as physical.
When someone is being abusive, you will experience some of these:
- Threats to be ‘outed’ to friends, whānau or employer.
- Being called names, told that you are a bad person, or refusal to use your preferred pronoun.
- Making it difficult for you to see friends and whānau, such as hiding car keys.
- Telling you not to talk about your relationship with others.
- Threats to hurt pets, whānau, or to throw you out of your home.
- Taking money without your permission, or limiting your access to money.
- Hiding your hormones, anti-retroviral drugs or other medication you rely on.
- Sex that you did not want, including unprotected sex.
These behaviours are not OK.
The Cycle of Abuse
Stage 1: Hearts & Flowers
Typically, the abusive partner is not always abusive. There are times when the abuser is charming, charismatic, sincere and sexy
Stage 2: Tension Building
The abuser starts to control you. You might feel like you are “walking on eggshells”, and try to avoid “getting into trouble”.
Stage 3: Abusive Incident
The abuser hurts or controls you (see the list on the previous page for examples). At this point, you might start to be scared, question the relationship, or think how you could leave.
The cycle of abuse: Hearts & Flowers (again)
The abuser tries to stop you from leaving, or telling anyone about the abuse that has occurred. For a while, they may act like the person you fell in love with again.
At this step of the cycle, abusers can say things like “This will never happen again”, “I’m going to get help”, or blame their abuse on drug or alcohol use.
You might feel relief that the abusive behaviour has stopped, and hope that it will not happen again.
Unfortunately, the cycle often repeats, and gets worse over time.