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How do I know I am experiencing abuse?

If you think you are experiencing abuse, call Aanchal Women’s Aid now on 0845 451 2547. Do not dwell on doubt. Talk to us. Our service is confidential and non-judgemental.

“I could heal the cuts and hide the bruises, but it was his words that really hurt me. His words stayed in my head, tormenting me, long after he has gone. He taught me that I was worthless and I believed him. I still hear his voice in my head all the time, telling me I am nothing.”
– AWA survivor

The ultimate goal of an abuser is control. They want you to behave only in the ways that they prescribe and they achieve this control with abuse. For many women and children who have been subjected to abuse, it is difficult to know what a healthy relationship is. Abuse is normalised and accepted.

Domestic abuse can make you feel isolated, unable to talk to others, embarrassed, ashamed, worthless, low self-esteem, insignificant, vulnerable and powerless to change your circumstances. As a result, many women remain with an abuser, lacking the self-esteem to act or living in the hope that the abuser will change. Abusers do change – they frequently get worse. Violence is progressive. It almost always escalates over time. Emotional abuse almost always leads to physical violence.

Each case of domestic abuse is unique but there are some common trends that we see across each case. The list below can help you recognise if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse.

Remember, an abuser can be a family member not just an intimate partner:

  • Are you scared of the person?
  • Has the person ever physically hurt you?
  • Are you worried to say certain things or challenge certain behaviours through fear of violence or verbal abuse/arguments?
  • Do you ever feel that you can’t do anything right for the person?
  • Do they make you feel worthless?
  • Do they ever degrade you in public?
  • Do they say or do things of a sexual nature that makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • Have they ever forced you to have sex when you didn’t want to?
  • Do they blame you for their behaviour?
  • Are you able to see friends and family?
  • Do they want to know where you are all the time?
  • Do they stop you from going out to meet friends, attend groups, education or stop you from doing what you want to do?
  • Do they constantly call or text you?
  • Have they threatened to ‘out’ you to your family and community?
  • Are you afraid that they may try to kill you?
  • Have they threatened to take their lives if you try to leave?
  • Are you being forced to marry someone you don’t want to?
  • Are they threating your immigration status if you try to seek help?
  • Do they threaten to hurt or blackmail your close family?
  • Are they threatening to take your children away from you if you seek help?
  • Do they tell you, you are mentally unwell and that no one will believe you?
  • Do they threaten to tell police and authorities that you are the abuser?
  • Have they ever been violent towards your pet?
  • Did you grow up with domestic violence in the household? Does domestic violence seem normal to you?
  • Do they shout or threaten your children?
  • Are your children frightened often?
  • Do your children suffer hardship, problems with school achievements?
  • Do you notice any different behaviours in your children?
  • Are your children slapped or hit by the perpetrator?
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