January 27, 2020

Relationship Abuse


Relationship abuse is rooted in control and power over another. Abusive relationships can show themselves in a few different ways.

It’s important that if you suspect your spouse/partner exhibits harmful behaviors such as substance abuse or gaslighting (or any type), please don’t stay silent!

If you’re a victim, please reach out for support. If your spouse/partner is the one exhibiting these behaviors and denying their partner respect and safety, it’s time to get help!

How does relationship abuse occur?

An abusive partner can look perfect at the early stages of the relationship. Then, a fistful of alarming behaviors emerges slowly or overnight. Slowly or quickly they can escalate into patterns of abuse.

Abuse doesn’t discriminate, it happens to people of any social background, race, and religion. Every relationship has its conflict, fights, and differences. Many times one accepts abusive behavior as normal relationship problems or the abuser themselves may not even be aware of the extent or impact of their behaviour.

Relationship abuse has a large spectrum. It can be physical, emotional, financial or sexual. The perpetrator’s goal in most forms of abuse is to make the victim feel afraid, submissive or trapped.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any intentional physical contact executed out of anger or that inflicts unwarranted levels of pain. Simplified, this form of abuse is having something unwanted done to your body. It doesn’t have to leave a bruise to get classified as physical abuse.

Typical examples are:

  • Pushing or pulling you, biting, pinching;
  • Slapping, hitting or smacking;
  • Pulling of hair or clothes;
  • Forcing you to get in/out of a place;
  • Holding your face while yelling at you;
  • Using a weapon on you, a knife, gun, etc.;
  • Throwing objects at you.

You must escape physical abuse at the very first sign. Often it can escalate over time. 

Emotional Abuse

Abuse doesn’t have to be physical to leave trauma. Nowadays emotional abuse is very common and the most underlooked form of abuse. It leaves deep emotional pain and scarring. 

Emotional assault has a number of forms such as:

  • Manipulation and controlling;
  • Threatening you with leaving, self-harm or suicide;
  • Putting you down, calling you names;
  • Playing mind games;
  • Destroying your self-esteem;
  • Controlling who you talk to, what you read;
  • Blaming you for their actions;
  • Justifying every action with jealousy;
  • Accusing you of cheating;
  • Stalking, humiliating

Emotional abuse can be hard to recognize. This leads to years of tolerating unhealthy behavior in the name of love. 

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse goes hand in hand with physical or emotional abuse. It includes full or partial financial control over the victim. No matter if the victim is a stay-at-home or working person. The only person who should have control over your finances is you.

When adults lose their ability to make their own choices and pursue their own interests, they lose their sense of autonomy and well-being. Forced deprivation destroys a person’s sense of self and builds anger and resentment toward the person controlling the purse strings.

Creating conditions where your partner cannot leave for financial reasons is the worst possible way to keep a relationship. We all want to be needed, but that kills intimacy, likely the thing we want, very quickly. There is no good ending to that strategy: either they stay and hate you, or they eventually leave because you drove them away.

How should we think about money in a relationship? In a healthy partnership, both individuals should have access to the resources they need. And, you and your partner should have equal say with regard to finances.

Financial abuse includes:

  • Preventing you from working or keeping a job;
  • Taking your money;
  • Giving you an allowance;
  • Denying you money for food, bills, medicine;
  • Monitoring every purchase or spending;
  • Denying you access to mutual bank accounts;
  • Spending all your money;
  • Using their financial situation to belittle them because you earn less;
  • Stealing or hiding any financial support you receive

Getting back on your feet from financial abuse can be hard. But gaining back control over your finances and job will feel liberating and empowering.

Sexual Abuse

This type of abuse is much more severe than emotional – it has the potential to be physically dangerous for one party, as well as emotionally scarring. Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual contact without consent; not letting a partner say “no” when they do not want to engage.

This type of abuse includes persuasion and threats to do something sexually that you don’t want to do. The fact that you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re obligated to act a certain way. You get to decide the circumstances under which you feel comfortable leaning into sexual actions. 

It can be difficult to recognize sexual abuse in a relationship. It might not always look the same: it may include looking at someone sexually when they don’t want to, touching them without their permission or forcing them into sexual acts.

Sexual abuse is tightly connected with physical abuse, and it manifests as:

  • Pressuring you into sending him compromising photos;
  • Sending you unwanted explicit photos of him;
  • Keeping you from using birth control or STD protection;
  • Raping;
  • Forcing you into sexual activity;
  • Violent of rough sexual activity;
  • Kissing or touching without consent;
  • Attempting sexual activity while you’re drugged, drunk or unconscious.

If you are experiencing any of the above types of relationship abuse in your relationship, we recommend seeking help from a professional. It’s crucial to identify that you are in an unhealthy relationship and seeking help to put an end of the abusive relationship is always the right answer. Clearheart Counselling is here to offer support and guidance for anyone who needs it, just reach out to our highly trained team.

Contact us today if you would like more information about our services or need someone to talk with right away. We are open 9-9 Monday to Friday and 9 to 7 Saturday and Sunday.