Mainly women, sometimes men can suffer hugely from the abuse of their partners which includes physical violence, criticism, insults, and restrictions of freedom. It can be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional abuse. Financial abuse and social isolation are also common features. All forms of abuse – psychological, economic, emotional and physical come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.
Partner abuse/ domestic violence can happen to anyone, and in all kinds of relationships: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. People suffer domestic violence regardless of their social group, class, age, race, disability, sexuality or lifestyle. The abuse can begin at any time, in new relationships or after many years spent together. The violence and abuse can be actual or threatened and can happen once every so often or on a regular basis. Victims of domestic violence tend to blame themselves, believing their partner when he or she says: “It’s all your fault”. Abusers tend to say sorry afterwards, but then repeat the abuse other time. Violence against women and men has serious consequences for their physical and mental health. Abused women and men are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, eating problems and sexual dysfunction and lowered sense of self-worth. Both women and men tend to feel isolated from family and friends, suffer physical injuries or ongoing impairment that leads to loss of income and work. In the worse case it can lead to death.
Although there are many similarities in how men and women experience domestic violence there are also important differences. For instance, men might feel like they are not ‘real men’ if they admit to being physically abused and often feel as if they are the only man who has ever experienced domestic violence, but they are not alone. Although research shows that it is mainly women, this doesn’t mean that men don’t suffer too. It may be hard to admit to yourself and to others that this is happening. Indeed these are desperate situations but help is available. Counseling can offer you the opportunity to share your fears and worries and provide the practical support you need to break free form the domestic violence. This whole process can take weeks, months even years, but more importantly you will be supported until YOU feel ready to make your life change.
You may be experiencing domestic abuse to the extent that you feel unable to leave your own home and therefore unable to seek help and support. Telephone counseling can give a link to the outside world; with out leaving your home (see telephone counseling).
For anyone affected by Domestic Violence, male or female, young or old, please remember:
- In an emergency dial 999.
- If you need confidential support, information or an emergency referral to temporary accommodation, call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, on 0808 2000 (free 24 hour service).
- If you are concerned for the welfare of any child you can contact social services free phone helpline 0800 1111 or the NSPCC free phone helpline on 0808 800 5000.
- Samaritans can be contacted through samaritans.org.uk and other useful sites are listed