Are you being abused?

Do you ever think:

  • They are too angry too often
  • They don’t see or hear me
  • They act like I’m their possession
  • I can’t be myself. I have to think, feel, and behave the way they want
  • Nothing I do is good enough
  • They are constantly telling me what to do
  • They’re so unpleasant to be around
  • I want them to leave me alone.
  • I feel like I’m walking on eggshells
  • I’m scared of them when they are angry or intoxicated
  • They make it hard for me to see my friends/family
  • I am not as confident and happy as I was before I met them
  • I sometimes cover up and lie to my friends and family about the things my partner does/says to me

Abuse is not always obvious. Most people know that being hit or choked by a partner is abuse, but abuse is more than just these physically violent acts. Not all abusive relationships get physically violent, but all physically violent relationships begin with psychological and emotional abuse, manipulation and control.

Some abuse can be underhanded or subtle and can sometimes sneak up on you. All abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem and overall health and happiness. If you are being abused you may be feeling helpless and hopeless and maybe even convinced that the abuse is your fault.

Abuse can take many forms:

Jealousy Is your partner unreasonably jealous of your friends or ex’s or other lover’s and/or accuses you of cheating?
Using your gender & sexuality against you Does your partner threaten to ‘out’ your sexuality, gender history or HIV status or tell you that you are not ‘gay’ or that you are ‘too gay’ or force you to conform to a stereotype?
Isolation Does your partner make it difficult for you to see friends and family or your queer community, criticise them and constantly make things awkward and uncomfortable when you do see them?
Surveillance Does your partner monitor your phone, emails, social media and/or mileage to a degree that makes you feel constantly watched?
Criticism Does your partner criticise you, your sexuality, your gender, your appearance, your intelligence, your decisions, your weight, clothes or the things you say or believe in?
Financial Control Does your partner take money from you, put you into debt, control the money you have access to or constantly question your spending habits or make it difficult for you to work?
Personal Boundaries Does your partner intrude on places where you prefer to be without them e.g. work, the gym, the hairdresser, the doctor?
Drugs and Alcohol Does your partner pressure you to take drugs or drink excessive amounts of alcohol? Do they blame the way they treat you on their drug or alcohol use?
Physical Contact Does your partner push, shove, choke or hit you or threaten to harm you, your friends, family, pets or your belongings?
Sexual Does your partner pressure you to do sexual things you are not comfortable with or don’t want to do? Do they threaten to show other people sexual films or photos of you? Do they make you feel bad about your  desires or ability to please them?
Temper Do you constantly feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” and change your behaviour for fear of upsetting your partner?
Gaslighting Does your partner blame you for their behaviour or question your recollection of events? Gaslighting is a common victim-blaming form of psychological abuse where information is twisted to favour the abuser or false information is given with the intention of making the victim (and witnesses), question their own memory, perception and sanity. An abuser can twist information to friends and family and service providers and police to make the victim seem “crazy”.

What are red flags?

In regards to domestic violence, a warning sign, also known as a ‘red flag’, indicates potential danger. In many abusive relationships, the red flags are evident relatively early on in the relationship but may only become clearer in hindsight, or may be easier for others to see. A red flag is often swept under the carpet, ignored or wrongly explained. But most abuse in relationships is preceded by some warning signs. They may be very subtle at first and slowly increase to abuse as the relationship goes on.

Often an abuser will initially try to explain their behaviour as signs of their love and concern but as time goes on the behaviours become more severe and as a result you slowly change to accommodate your partner and avoid conflict.

To help you see red flags in your relationship, go through this check-list. The more ‘yes’ answers the more potential warning signs there are in your relationship.

  • Idolising you in the early stages and pressuring you to commit very quickly
  • Expecting you to spend all of your time with them and saying things like “I am all you need and you are all I need”
  • Expecting you to check in with them so they know where you are or grilling you about where you were when not with them
  • Constant messaging and calls
  • Blames others for their problems without taking any responsibility
  • Advises you how to dress without your asking for advice
  • Becomes extremely worried or angry when you are late
  • Acts jealously and/or possessively over you
  • Isolating you by controlling where you go, who you see and talk to
  • Regularly putting you down
  • Puts down everyone you know, or accuses you of cheating with them. They may say things like ‘your family is too controlling or they don’t really love you’, ‘your friends are using you’.
  • Refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Blame you, drugs or alcohol, their past or stress for their actions.
  • Blows things out of proportion or blames others for their feelings
  • Disrespectful of others or insensitive to their pain
  • Very hot and cold. One minute nice the next exploding
  • Any physical force or intimidating behaviour during an argument
  • Unrealistic expectations of you

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.