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Displaying abusive behaviours?

Do you recognise that you are displaying abusive behaviours or tactics to your partner, ex-partner or someone in your family? Are you concerned your actions are harming your relationships?

It’s important to face up to how your behaviour impacts your partner, and any children, even if it is not physical violence. You may also be feeling bad about what is going on – ashamed or guilty.

Domestic abuse is never acceptable, and it is never the fault of the person being hurt, abused, coerced or controlled. The person being abusive is the only person responsible for their actions. With support, you can change your attitudes and behaviour.

Perhaps you are controlling someone’s finances, or what they wear and who they see. Maybe you find yourself getting jealous when they are with friends. You might have started putting them down, belittling them or humiliating them.

It can be hard to acknowledge what you are doing and how it is affecting others. You might find yourself minimising things and pretending what’s happening isn’t that bad. You might find yourself blaming the abuse on external factors such as work stress, money worries or things that have happened in your past. However, many people experience these things and are not abusive to their partners.

One of the first steps to ending abuse is to take full responsibility for your behaviour. It is, of course, easier not to take responsibility because it makes you feel better in the short term, as if you aren’t responsible for your abuse then you don’t have to feel bad about it. If you aren’t responsible, you don’t have to do anything about it as there’s no point looking at your own behaviour or attitudes and trying to change them. If you aren’t responsible, it means you don’t have to stop the violence because there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening again.

It’s very tempting to try and deny responsibility for your behaviour by blaming your partner. There are many other ways in which you can wriggle out of responsibility for your behaviour by saying that the reason for it was some kind of outside influence such as work problems, money worries, things that have happened to you in your past. However, plenty of people experience these things and don’t become abusive to their partners. One of the first steps to ending abuse is to take full responsibility for your behaviour.

You need to recognise that it’s up to you what you do and how you behave, and to stop blaming your partner. It can be tough facing up to difficult problems but if you are committed to changing your abusive behaviour then there is help and support available. Changing abusive behaviours is a long and difficult process. The Respect website provides lots of useful information to help you recognise your abusive behaviour and suggests ways you can tackle it. This website is not designed as an alternative to a specialist behaviour-change programmes which you may find more helpful in the process of change.

Effects of your abusive behaviour

Your behaviour is likely to be having a serious effect on your partner or family member. If you’ve used physical violence, you’ve probably caused injuries. These might include soreness, aching, numbness, headaches, cuts and other wounds, black eyes, bruising, burst eardrums, or broken bones. In some cases, people have been killed or permanently disabled by their partners.

Even if you haven’t been physically violent, the person experiencing the abuse may have developed physical problems as a result of your actions, such as feeling physically tense, having difficulty sleeping, feeling exhausted, having panic attacks, palpitations and being physically sick. As well as the physical effects, abuse also has an impact on a person’s emotional wellbeing. They may feel stressed, vulnerable, depressed, ashamed, drained, terrified, confused, nervous, hurt, unloved, worthless, destroyed, scared, and humiliated. It is likely that your relationship will suffer as a result of your behaviour and may even result in the relationship breaking down completely.

Your abusive behaviour will also be having an emotional and a physical impact on your children.

Where to get help

Respect

The Respect website provides lots of useful information to help you recognise your abusive behaviour and suggests ways you can tackle it. This website is not designed as an alternative to a specialist behaviour-change programme but if you get in touch, Respect offers information, advice and guidance to people exhibiting abusive behaviours. They also run a free and confidential helpline offering information and advice to people who are abusive towards their partners and want help to stop.

Website: www.respectphoneline.org.uk
Helpline: 0808 8024040
Email Support: info@respectphoneline.org.uk

Help for concerned friends and family of domestic abuse perpetrators

More information about perpetrator support is available on the Tools for Professionals page.

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