Survivor Story

'In the beginning, I always thought it was my fault.  Arguments usually are both people’s faults, but I don’t think I ever deserved the amount of anger and aggression I took from my partner. I lived in absolute fear of the aggression kicking off, and I used to work really hard 24 hours a day to keep him happy.  This is a really stressful way to live and it affected the children, even though I didn't realise it at the time.  I don’t know how he managed to get me to think that his anger was my fault (or the kids’ fault) but that’s what he did.  He was very clever really.  And I kept it all a secret for a very long time because it was embarrassing, and because I was afraid that people would just tell me I was a bad wife.'

Most relationships have ups and downs whether that’s within our families or our other intimate relationships. All of us are unique with our own thoughts and feelings about things so it’s not really surprising that we can’t get on with everybody all of the time. There is though, a real difference between ups and downs in a healthy relationship and abuse.

Although relationships are complicated things, a healthy one will always have mutual respect and some kind of balance as a base. In an abusive relationship one person will attempt to gain complete control over another person or other people. An abusive relationship is unbalanced and often involves one person’s wants and needs taking priority over their victims.

Many relationships don’t become abusive overnight. An abuser will often take time targeting the emotions of their victim, belittling them, attacking their self esteem, isolating them from their friends and families, until they have control of them.  This behaviour can start subtly and at first, might even be nice. For example it’s common when starting a new relationship for two people to want to be in constant contact by phone, text, email and in person but when that becomes imposing, when one person’s desire for that consumes another’s right for their own space or time with other people, that’s not ok.

People who abuse others also often lie and try to hide their behaviour from other people. They do this because they know that what they’re doing is wrong. They will make excuses, blame their behaviour on other things such as alcohol and they will often blame their victim.

Domestic abuse doesn't always involve ‘couples’ or people in close intimate relationships it can also take place within families. It can include abuse between a mother and a daughter for example. Victims can be women, children and men. Abusers can be women and men. Abuse isn’t always physical but it can be. The level of physical violence within families and intimate relationships can range from minor to brutal and even homicide.

If you’re concerned that your relationship or the relationship of someone you know might not be healthy, why not take our quiz. It’s only a quiz but it’s designed to encourage people to take a little time to think about their relationship, and where to find advice and support if they need it. If you need to, contact the Torbay Domestic Abuse Service.