It is hard to advise you on what to do. On one hand, you are saying that you feel your partner would be better without you and on the other hand it does not seem as if you want this relationship to end. I would like to send some general information over on abuse within relationships. If you believe any of this applies to you, I strongly encourage you to seek out the support of a therapist.
Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern of control.
It Is Not Your Fault
If your partner is abusing you, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Relationship abuse is always a decision that a perpetrator makes to harm their partner. Relationship abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is the perpetrator’s choice to be abusive.
Please see Get Help for assistance.
Holding Abusers Accountable
Holding abusers accountable sends a message to others that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in our community. Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to justice in the criminal justice system, and when professionals do not understand the dynamics of domestic violence, it can make it difficult to adequately identify and prosecute abusers. In addition, many womxn cannot rely on the criminal justice system due to institutional barriers, including discrimination or homophobia. However, it is also important to recognize that many survivors do choose to involve law enforcement and depend on the criminal justice system; we cannot abandon these womxn. Due to all of these factors, it is important for us to hold abusers accountable on an individual level as well. Do not blame the survivor. Teach your children that violence is never the answer to a problem, and that controlling another person is wrong.
The following are common economically abusive behaviors:
Preventing you from having or keeping a job
Interfering with your efforts to maintain a job by sabotaging childcare, transportation, or other arrangements
Harassing you at work
Refusing to work
Not including you in family financial decisions
Not allowing you access to the family finances
Making you ask for money
Taking your money
Demanding an account of everything you buy
Controlling your access to financial information
Not allowing you to talk to others about money
Not allowing your name to be on accounts, which would allow you to build credit
Forcing you to put your name on accounts and then destroying your credit
Making fun of your financial contribution and saying it is not worth anything
Expecting you to behave in a certain way because you make less money or are not the “breadwinner”
Destroying or interfering with homework
Preventing you from learning English
Forcing you to work “illegally” when you do not have a work permit
Threatening to report you to INS or IRS if you work “under the table”
Taking the money your family back home was depending on you to send to them
Forcing you to sign papers in English that you do not understand i.e. court papers, IRS forms, immigration papers
Harassing you at the only job you can work at legally in the U.S., so that you lose that job and are forced to work “illegally”
The following are examples of sexual abuse:
Name-calling with sexual epithets
Demanding sex after a violent incident
Forcing you to engage in prostitution or pornography
Forcing you to have sex with others besides your partner
Insisting on anything sexual that frightens or hurts you
Refusing to use safe sex practices
Preventing you from using birth control
Controlling your decisions about pregnancy and/or abortion
Withholding sex as a form of control
Videotaping or photographing sexual acts and posting it without your permission
Alleging that you have a history of prostitution on legal papers
Telling you that “as a matter of law” in the United States that you must continue to have sex with him whenever he wants until you are divorced.
The following are common examples of physical abuse:
Pinching or biting
Slapping, beating, or kicking
Backing you into a corner
Pinning you down
Pulling your hair
Holding you captive
Breaking down a door to get to you
Preventing you from eating or sleeping
Locking you out of the house
Forcing your car off the road
Abandoning you in dangerous places
Keeping you from getting medical care
Spitting on you
Using or threatening to use a weapon against you
Driving at unsafe speeds to intimidate you
Refusing to help you when you are sick, injured, or pregnant
Withholding medications or medical treatment
Animal cruelty towards pets
*When we refer to physical abuse, we are not talking about self-defense. Self-defense, or reactive violence, is a response to violence being committed against a person. The result of reactive violence does not create a system of dominance or control in the relationship.
*Sometimes people ask if a one time incident (i.e. throwing an object once) is always domestic violence. Contextualizing the incident in the relationship and looking at other forms of controlling behavior will help to determine if this is something that could escalate. However, a one-time incident can be a warning sign that future abuse could occur. In addition, a one-time incident may have the same effect of causing fear, limiting behavior, and long-term negative impact as continuing physical abuse. Contact a hotline if you have questions or concerns.
The following are common examples of verbal abuse:
Degrading you in front of friends and family
Telling hurtful “jokes” despite your requests to stop
Questioning your sanity
Many survivors find that emotional abuse is difficult to name or even talk about. They often wonder if it is serious because you cannot see it, like bruises or broken bones. Emotionally abused survivors state that one of the biggest problems they face is that others seldom take it seriously. These questions will help you identify if you are being emotionally abused, and provide some ideas on available support and resources.
What is Your Relationship Like?
Do you feel that something is wrong with your relationship, but you don’t know how to describe it?
Do you feel that your partner controls your life?
Do you feel that your partner does not value your thoughts or feelings?
Will your partner do anything to win an argument, such as put you down, threaten or intimidate you?
Does your partner get angry and jealous if you talk to someone else? Are you accused of having affairs?
Do you feel that you cannot do anything right in your partner’s eyes?
Are you told that no one else would want you, or that you are lucky your partner takes care of you?
Do you have to account for every moment of your time?
When you try to talk to your partner about problems, are you called names such as bitch or nag?
Does your partner prevent you from going to work or school, or from learning English?
If you wish to spend money, does your partner make you account for every penny, or say you don’t deserve anything?
Does your partner threaten to withdraw your sponsorship or send you back to your country of origin?
After an argument, does your partner insist that you have sex as a way to make up?
Does your partner use the children against you in arguments? Does your partner threaten that you will never see the children again if you leave?
Does your partner blame you for everything that goes wrong?
Things to Consider:
Know that you are not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior.
Recognize that you have the right to make your own decisions, in your own time, and that dealing with any form of abuse may take time.
Recognize that emotional abuse should be taken seriously.
Know that emotional abuse can escalate to physical violence.
Find people to talk to that can support you. Consider getting individual counseling from professionals who are trained about abusive relationships and will hold your partner responsible for the abuse you are experiencing.
Do not give up if community professionals are not helpful. Keep looking for someone that will listen to you and take emotional abuse seriously.
Trust yourself and your own experiences. Believe in your own strengths. Remember that you are your own best source of knowledge and strength.
What Resources Are Available?
Call a help line: Toll FreePhone: 800-799-7233 / 800-799-SAFE
Shelters do accept women who are emotionally abused and have not been physically abused. Go here for a list of resources, or ask the help line for shelters near you. If you are a person with a disability, ask where there is an accessible shelter in your area.
If you have been threatened with harm or death, or are being stalked (followed and harassed) by your partner or ex-partner, you can call the police. Dial 911, or if you are in a rural area, find out the emergency number.
Plan for your safety if you are considering leaving your relationship, because sometimes leaving can increase your risk of harm. You can find resources to help you create a safety plan here.
If you have children, consider some of these Legal Resources.
The following are examples of academic abuse:
Preventing you from working on papers or studying for tests,
Saying you don’t love your partner if you spend time on work instead of spending time together,
Calling you at all hours, especially before tests and other important academic assignments,
Blaming you for poor grades,
Monitoring your behavior during class or taking all of the same classes as you,
Belittling your academic focus/choice,
Making fun of you for studying too much.
The following are common examples tactics that, when used as part of a pattern of behavior, may constitute psychological abuse.
Breaking promises, not following through on agreements, or not taking fair share of responsibility.
Isolating you from family and friends.
Controlling what you do, who you talk to, and where you go.
Making threats against you.
Attacking your vulnerabilities, such as your language abilities, educational level, skills as a parent, religious and cultural beliefs, or physical appearance.
Playing mind games, such undercutting your sense of reality.
Forcing you to do degrading things.
Ignoring your feelings.
Driving too fast.
Withholding approval or affection as punishment.
Regularly threatening to leave or telling you to leave.
Harassing you about affairs your partner imagines you to be having.
Always claiming to be right.
Being unfaithful after committing to monogamy.
The following are ways in which an abuser can use technology to abuse or harass a partner:
Monitoring your e-mail communication
Sending you repeated e-mail or instant messages
Using your online identity to post false information or to send your demographic information and/or picture to sexually oriented or pornographic sites
Using social networking sites, like Facebook and MySpace, to get information about you and to monitor who sends you messages and who your friends are
Sending you repeated text messages
Using GPS devices to monitor your location
Gender Based Violence Against Immigrant and Undocumented Women
Immigrant women face many of the same barriers and hardships that non-immigrant survivors do, and men perpetrate violence against them at a similarly high rate. Immigrant women includes women who have visas, are legal residents, and/or are undocumented immigrants. Men who abuse immigrant women may use certain factors that are unique to a survivor’s citizenship status to create additional obstacles that prevent survivors from leaving. Immigrant women may feel isolated due to language barriers, or trapped in abusive relationships due to immigration laws, social isolation, and a possible dependency on their abuser because of these factors. Men who abuse immigrant women will often use control tactics that exacerbate these feelings, such as threatening to have a survivor deported if they report their abuse. Specifically, men will also threaten immigrant and undocumented women who have children with the possibility of separating them from their children. Additionally, you can learn more and find resources here:
Futures Without Violence: Immigrant Women and Relationship Abuse
National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project Website
Casa de Esperanza | En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline En Español
Power and Control Tactics Used Against Immigrant and Undocumented Women
The following describes some of the ways in which men abuse immigrant women, although the experiences of individual survivors will vary from case to case. These tactics are in addition to the types of abuse listed here, which apply to both immigrant and non-immigrant women. Immigrant women include female-identifying individuals and genderqueer and nonbinary people who have visas, are legal residents, and/or are undocumented immigrants.
Perpetrators often do the following:
Using Coercion and Threats
Using Citizenship or Residency Privilege
Minimizing, Denying, Blaming
Gender Based Violence Against Women With Disabilities
Women and gender-nonconforming individuals with disabilities encompass a wide spectrum that includes numerous unique types, degrees, and expressions of impairments; these can include physical, developmental, and psychological disabilities, and may not always be visible. According to a US Department of Justice report, in 2013, men perpetrated violence against women with disabilities at double the rate than against individuals without disabilities. Men who commit violence or abuse against individuals with disabilities are oftentimes spouses or partners; the perpetrators may feel empowered to harm the survivor due to the survivor’s reliance on the abuser, who may double as a caretaker. Abusers may utilize control tactics to coerce the survivor or to isolate the survivor, including withholding essential medical equipment or refusing to bathe them. This is abuse, and all gender-based violence resources and services must be fully accessible to people in the disability community.
Learn more about abuse in disability communities and find resources here:
Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Victims with Disabilities
Advocate Guide to Safety Planning for Persons with Disabilities
National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Abuse in Disability Community Webpage
Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS)
Power and Control Tactics Used Against Women with Disabilities
pushing a person out of their wheelchair
hurting their service animal
hitting, shaking, and burning
the administration of poisonous substances or inappropriate drugs
inappropriate handling of personal or medical care
over-use of restraint or inappropriate behavior modification
false information given to the medical/psychiatric community resulting in a wrongful diagnosis
isolating a person from family and friends
intensely criticizing a person that needs assistance with their daily activities
withholding love and affection
taunting, threats (of withdrawal of services or of institutionalization), insults and harassment
a caregiver or partner stealing money
misusing financial resources
lying about the state of a person’s finances
the denial of access to, and control over, individuals’ own funds
forcing a person to lie to or exploit governmental benefit systems
telling an individual with a disability that they will be sent to a nursing home and lose their freedom if they reports the violence
implying that physical violence will be committed (e.g., “I’m going to kick your butt.”)
actively misgendering an individual or invalidating their gender identity
forcing a person to perform sexual favors in exchange for assistance with essential services (bathing, eating)
unwanted or forced sexual contact, touching, or displays of sexual parts
threats of harm or coercion in connection with sexual activity
denial of sexuality and of sexual education
forced abortion, birth control or sterilization
refusing to allow a person that needs assistance to practice their chosen customs
telling a person their disability is the result of sin
spiritual isolation and spiritual embarrassment
mocking, ridiculing, or even denying practice of someone’s spiritual beliefs
unfairly using sacred practices to control a person: to justify abuse, or to prevent safety or healing