Ways to Tell if You Are Being (or Have Been) Abused
One of the best ways to tell if you are being abused is to trust your gut. This is a difficult task, if your abuser has managed to make you doubt your own sanity, but it is vital to your survival and healing. Ask yourself if you are frightened of the person in question; if the answer is "yes", they may well be abusing you.
Certainly, if they are physically abusing you, there will be bruises, bloodied noses, cuts, and other injuries to indicate what's going on. Remember that assaulting and battering someone is a criminal offense, and you don't deserve it no matter how old or young you are, how mad the person became, or whether you were having a heated argument with them beforehand. As the saying goes: your right to hit me ends where the end of my nose begins. Nobody has the right to batter anyone else, ever.
Following is a list of ways to tell if someone is verbally or emotionally battering you, paraphrased from Patricia Evans' books, The Verbally Abusive Relationship (Adams, 1992), and Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out. (Adams, 1993.) If you answer "yes" to a significant number of the following questions, you are likely being verbally abused.
Withholding: does the abuser stop speaking to you when they're displeased? do they ignore you? do they withdraw affection in order to punish you? do they blame you for this?
Countering: does the abuser tell you you're wrong if you don't agree with them? do they argue against your every thought? do they tell you your feelings are wrong? do they tell you that you don't know what you're talking about? do they forbid you from having your own opinions?
Discounting: does the abuser ignore or disparage your feelings? do they put down your feelings? do they dismiss you with statements such as, "you're too sensitive" or "you don't have a sense of humor" or "you're just taking it wrong"?
Ridicule (Verbal Abuse Disguised as Jokes): does the abuser make fun of you? do they ridicule you regarding subjects about which you are particularly sensitive? do they seem to enjoy it? do they accuse you of not being able to take a joke? do they use sarcasm to put you down?
Blocking and Diverting: does the abuser change the subject when you try to bring something up? do they divert serious discussions by accusing you of various things?
Accusing and Blaming: does the abuser blame you for everything that goes wrong? do they accuse you of hurting them when you tell them your feelings? do they accuse you of having affairs? are they jealous?
Judging and Criticizing: does the abuser find fault with everything you do? are they extremely hard to please? do they tell you you "ought" or "should" do things a certain way?
Trivializing: does the abuser belittle what you say? do they dismiss your feelings or accomplishments? do they insult you when you express pride in your own abilities? do they act as if your work is no big deal?
Undermining: does the abuser squelch your enthusiasm with insensitive comments such as, "You wouldn't understand", or, "You'll never make it"? do they sabotage your ideas by pointing out all the ways in which they might fail? do they interrupt you when you need time alone?
Threatening: does the abuser threaten you, overtly or covertly? do they threaten you with violence? do they threaten you with emotional pain?
Name-calling: does the abuser use vulgarities to insult you? do they call you cruel names? do they use terms of endearment with intense sarcasm?
Forgetting: does the abuser make a promise and then "forget" to keep it? do they pretend not to remember certain incidents or discussions? do they pretend not to remember prior agreements?
Ordering: does the abuser order you to do something instead of asking? do they demand things?
Denial: does the abuser deny that certain things happened? do they tell you that they didn't say something, or that you never saw something occur?
Abusive Anger: does the abuser erupt into a rage when they are angry? do they scream, yell, or shout? do they hurl obscenities? does their body language become more aggressive? do they stomp, strut, hit things, or hit you? do they become red in the face? do they throw things? do they physically get in your way, or follow you from room to room? do they snap at you? are they usually irritable? does all of this usually take place in private, when you are alone? (It's a sure sign things are escalating if the abuser attacks you in public.) does the abuser blame you for their anger?
Myths and Lies
The victim deserves whatever abuse she or he receives. (Don't even get me started on this one.)
Verbal abuse isn't really abuse. Yes it is, and it's incredibly effective -- rapists often use it to paralyze their intended victims, for example.
Women really mean "Yes" when they say "No."
Boys will be boys. A sorry excuse for aggressive masculine behavior, if ever I heard one.
Battered women are masochistic. No, they're just scared and believe they deserve it.
Victims provoke their abusers.
Abuse only happens to [insert your least favorite socio-cultural group here]. Abuse happens to all kinds of people: young, old, black, white, male, female, Jewish, Christian, rich, poor, you name it. Abuse knows no prejudice.
Abuse doesn't happen to nice people.
Rape victims were asking for it. Hey, nuns have been raped. What's your problem??
It could never happen to me.
You have been sexually abused when a person touches you or makes you do things sexually that you are not comfortable with him or her doing. When you are being forced to do something sexual, you are being abused.
If you are a female click on this link: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-dml/dml-y021.html and then return back to here.
So, now what?
You have just realized that you are being abused, or you are reliving that experience in your mind. This must be an awful thing to experience. Although millions of people experience abuse every year, this does not make it any easier to deal with personally. You never thought it would happen to you. Chances are, you did not think this person would treat you this way.
Well, here are some things you need to know:
First of all, you are not a bad person because you have experienced abuse. This is not your fault. Your abuse has possibly tried to make you think this. But the truth is that you are still an awesome and wonderful person, no matter what has happen to you.
If people who had been abused were bad people, then consider the example of Jesus Christ. They abused Him, and even killed Him. Yet, He was the best person to ever live.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED, YOU HAVE TO SEEK HELP. You are not equipped to handle this on your own. Even though it hurts, you have to talk about it with someone you can trust. TALKING ABOUT IT TO SOMEONE YOU CAN TRUST IS THE FIRST STEP TO HEALING. The longer you bottle this up inside you, the worse it will get. Decide right now that you are going to get help.
I assume since you are continuing to read that you have indeed decided to get help. So, now, who can help? Here are some suggestions.
1) Your pastor (if you go to church and know your minister well)
2) A Christian counselor
3) Call one of the 1-800 numbers we support. These are 1-800-394 HOPE or 1-800 HIT HOME.
RECOVERY IS NOT EASY BUT IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
You cannot make it on your own. Seek help. Talk openly with a trustworthy Christian counselor who can give you real help and get the broken pieces of your life put back together. Through God's help, you can be better and feel better about who you are. You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you (Philippians 4:13).
If you have received Christ as your Savior, you can put this heavy burden on the Lord Jesus' shoulders (1 Peter 5:7). If you have never taken this all-important step, we urge you to make your commitment to God by confessing your sins, repenting, and inviting Jesus to come into your life and be your Savior. When you do this, you become a member of God's own family (see John 1:12). See Steps to Peace With God. http://www.theway.billygraham.org/steps1.asp
God will give you comfort and peace as you are faithful and obedient to Him (Psalm 37:3-5). Commit the past, the present, and the future to the Lord. Trust Him to fill your life with peace, joy, and faith as you read His Word and pray daily. Also, actively participate in a gospel-teaching church. There you may be helped by the counsel and ministry of the pastor and the fellowship of other Christians.