Are you abusing your partner?

Everyone has done something in a relationship they aren’t proud of – to varying degrees. Sometimes we get jealous when really there is no reason to. Sometimes we get angry and yell, sometimes we say things that hurt our partner. No one is perfect. By learning to communicate better, handle our own emotions, and truly empathise with our partner we can all be better people in relationships and take better care of the people we love.

However, if you are using coercion, manipulation and fear tactics to control your partner and hold power over them, then it is your responsibility to stop. The first step is by honestly and objectively reflecting on your words and actions and how they affect the ones you love, you can do this by really listening to your partner and paying attention to any sign that they are scared of you or tip-toe around you.

If your partner has ever told you that they are scared of you or feel pressured by you then it is time to get help to change.

Remember that physical abuse isn’t the only type of abuse. You may be harming your partner in psychological or emotional ways, through intimidation, threats, isolation and by breaking down their confidence. If you are not sure if you are using abuse in your relationship then take this quick quiz.

Do I, or do I get told that I…

  • Get upset when my partner hangs out with their friends or family or goes to community events?
  • Call or text them a lot to ask them where they are and who they are with?
  • Drive by their house or work without letting them know, to see if they are there or who they are with?
  • Criticise my partner for things they cannot change about themself or their past?
  • Tell my partner that they should look or act more masculine or feminine?
  • Tell my partner they should change their appearance?
  • Accuse my partner of flirting or cheating even if I’m not sure that’s what happened?
  • Throw things if I’m mad at my partner or do things like hit walls?
  • Sometimes say things to my partner knowing they are hurtful?
  • Tease my partner in front of other people?
  • Convince my partner to have sex with me even when they don’t really want to?
  • Pressure my partner into certain sexual acts that make them feel uncomfortable to please me?
  • Control my partner’s money?
  • Take my stress out on my partner?
  • Yell or scream at them or call them names?
  • Threaten to hurt myself or do something bad if they try to leave the relationship?
  • Threaten to hurt pets or your partner’s loved ones

Violence is always a choice.

There are no excuses and no one else to blame for you being abusive.

  • If you’re being abusive, the first and hardest part of changing is admitting your behavior is wrong. It’s time to take responsibility for your actions and the ways that you make your partner feel scared, controlled or lacking confidence.
  • Focus on how your abuse affects your partner/s, family and friends.
  • It’s extremely important that you get professional help. They can help you understand the root causes of your behaviour and give you techniques to manage your emotions and change your actions.
  • Because change is hard, there may be times when you may justify your actions or feel like giving up. Remember your original commitment to change.
Get regular, on-going professional help to change your actions. Abusive behaviour usually has deep-rooted causes and you cannot guarantee the safety of your partner without addressing and fixing the root of your problems – it won’t be a quick fix.

Consider developing a risk plan for yourself. You should create this risk plan with a professional because you will need objective help. A risk plan involves using this knowledge about early signals to keep your partner/children/pets safe in the future.

If you cannot control your actions then you need to take space from your partner until you can guarantee their safety and well-being around you, as well as the safety and well-being of any children and pets as well.

Respect your partner’s right to feel safe and happy, ask your partner if they still want to be in the relationship or not.If they do not want to stay with you, then understand your part in the breakdown, their right to leave and then respect their decision and let them go kindly.

If your partner wants to stay in a relationship with you then you need to prove to them that you have changed. It will take time for your partner to trust that you really have changed and that they can feel safe around you again, you must be patient. Respect that they have been hurt and that wounds take time to heal.

Learn to be vulnerable and open and honest about your thoughts, feelings and struggles to your partner, your professional help and the friends and family you trust.

For more information on domestic abuse in LGBTIQ people’s relationships go to Understanding the Differences

If after reading this page you are beginning to think that you may be in an abusive relationship or you were in the past and would like to get help please go here.