Physical abuse in relationships or otherwise is never something that can be overlooked. If you have been abused by someone you are having a relationship with, or if you know of someone who has been abused by their partner, parent or anyone else, you should reach out for help.
Abuse comes in many different forms and can happen to absolutely anyone, regardless of gender, age, size or anything else. Both physical and psychological abuse happen to many people all over the world and are both difficult to deal with and damaging. If the abuse is between a married couple or a couple in a relationship, it is referred to as domestic abuse. If the domestic abuse is physical, it is known as domestic violence.
When one spouse tries to dominate the other using physical violence, this abuse is often covered up by both the abuser and the abused spouse. Often, the abused party will make excuses for their spouse because there is probably still a semblance of love between them.
Alternatively the abused spouse might fear their abuser or they might have a low self-esteem and sense of self-worth due to their abuse. The abused spouse might attempt to cover up their abuse and might become defensive and angry if someone suspects their abuse and tries to help them. Whatever the reason, there is often an element of secrecy and silence in a relationship where there is abuse.
Denial of abuse
The reason many abused spouses keep their abuse a secret or make excuses to cover up the violence of their abusers is because they are often in denial. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that someone you love (or think you love) could be hurting you. Because abuse often leads to a low self-esteem and sense of self-worth in the abused individual, they could begin to believe that they are somehow responsible for their abuser’s anger and that they might deserve it. This is why many people who have been abused will deny the abuse that is going on in their relationship.
Even if the abuser does not injure their partner seriously, and only hurts them occasionally or very slightly, it is still not acceptable. It is possible that the abuser could lose control and very seriously damage their partner without meaning to. Even if the abuser only means to frighten their partner, or hit them just once, they could lose their temper and go too far.
There are instances of abuse where an abuser has shoved or pushed their partner too hard without meaning to, and ended up killing them or seriously damaging them. Often an abuser will feel a huge amount of guilt and remorse immediately after physically abusing their partner and this will cause the partner to believe that they it will not happen again.
While it may be difficult to reach out and admit that you are suffering at the hands of an abusive person when you love the person who is hurting you, but it is the only way to handle things. Someone who uses physical violence to deal with their own issues or anger and who cannot control their temper should not be tolerated or forgiven.
The first step should be to remove yourself from the situation, get away from your abuser and go somewhere safe. The very next step is to find help for yourself by getting counselling and perhaps even contacting the police if you believe your abuser might still be a danger to you. If your partner has decided that he or she wants to change and perhaps wants to stay with you, they should receive counselling to get their anger under control.
There are many organisations that can help you including the following:
- Stop Women Abuse Helpline
- FAMSA (Families South Africa)
- Help Guide
- Youth Village
- Strong Foundations