Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Recognize the Pattern & Seek Help!

By Mayo Clinic staff

He says he's sorry and that it won't happen again. But you fear it will. Angry outbursts, hurtful words, sometimes a slap or a punch. You may start to doubt your own judgment, or wonder whether you're going crazy. Maybe you think you've imagined the whole thing.

But you haven't. Domestic violence can and does happen to people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Domestic violence happens to men and to same-sex partners, but most often domestic violence involves men abusing their female partners. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that as many as 4 million women suffer abuse from their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or intimate partners in the United States each year.

Domestic violence — also called domestic abuse, intimate partner violence or battering — occurs between people in intimate relationships. It takes many forms, including coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, and emotional, sexual and physical abuse.

Without help, abuse will continue and could worsen. Many resources are available to help you understand your options and to support you. No one deserves to be abused.

An abusive relationship: It's about power and control

Though there are no typical victims of domestic violence, abusive relationships do share similar characteristics. In all cases, the abuser aims to exert power and control over his partner.

"A lot of people think domestic violence is about anger, and it really isn't," says Diana Patterson, a licensed social worker and violence prevention coordinator at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "Batterers do tend to take their anger out on their intimate partner. But it's not really about anger. It's about trying to instill fear and wanting to have power and control in the relationship."

But anger is just one way that an abuser tries to gain authority. The batterer may also turn to physical violence — kicking, punching, grabbing, slapping or strangulation, for example. The abuser may also use sexual violence — forcing you to have sexual intercourse or to engage in other sexual activities against your will. Verbal abuse and mental manipulation also count.

In an abusive relationship, the abuser may use varying tactics to gain power and control, including:

Children as pawns. Accuses you of bad parenting, threatens to take the children away, uses the children to relay messages, or threatens to report you to children's protective services.

Coercion and threats. Threatens to hurt other family members, pets, children or self.

Denial and blame. Denies that the abuse occurs and shifts responsibility for the abusive behavior onto you. This may leave you confused and unsure of yourself or make you feel like you're going crazy.

Economic abuse. Controls finances, refuses to share money, makes you account for money spent and doesn't want you to work outside the home. The abuser may also try to sabotage your work performance by forcing you to miss work or by calling you frequently at work.

Emotional (and Verbal) abuse. Uses put-downs, insults, criticism or name-calling to make you feel bad about yourself.

Intimidation. Uses certain looks, actions or gestures to instill fear. The abuser may break things, destroy property, abuse pets or display weapons.

Isolation. Limits your contact with family and friends, requires you to get permission to leave the house, doesn't allow you to work or attend school, and controls your activities and social events. The abuser may ask where you've been, track your time and whereabouts, or check the odometer on your car or hack into your computer.

Power. Makes all major decisions, defines the roles in your relationship, is in charge of the home and social life, and treats you like a servant or possession.

Recognizing abuse: Know the signs

It may not be easy to identify abuse. An abusive relationship can start subtly. The abuser may criticize your appearance or may be unreasonably jealous. Gradually, the abuse becomes more frequent, severe and potentially life-threatening.

"It's important to know that these relationships don't happen overnight," says Patterson. "It's a gradual process — a slow disintegration of a person's sense of self."

However, many characteristics signify an abusive relationship. For example, you may be abused if you:

- Have ever been hit, kicked, shoved or threatened with violence

- Feel that you have no choice about how you spend your time, where you go or what you wear

- Have been accused by your partner of things you've never done

- Must ask your partner for permission to make everyday decisions

- Feel bad about yourself because your partner calls you names, insults you or puts you down

- Limit time with your family and friends because of your partner's demands

- Submit to sexual intercourse or engage in sexual acts against your will or better judgement

- Accept your partner's decisions because you're afraid of ensuing anger

- Are accused of being unfaithful

- Change your behavior in an effort to not anger your partner

Pregnancy is a particularly perilous time for an abused woman. Not only is your health at risk, but also the health of your unborn child. Abuse can begin or may increase during pregnancy.

Breaking the cycle: Difficult, but doable with help

Domestic violence is part of a continuing cycle that's difficult to break. If you're in an abusive situation, you may recognize this pattern:

Your abuser strikes using words or actions.

Your abuser may beg for forgiveness, offer gifts or promise to change.

Your abuser becomes tense, angry or depressed.

Your abuser promises to stop but repeats the abusive behavior.

Typically each time the abuse occurs, it worsens, and the cycle shortens. Breaking this pattern of violence alone and without help is difficult.

"When you live in an environment of chaos, stress and fear, you start doubting yourself and your ability to take care of yourself," says Patterson. "It can really unravel your sense of reality and self-esteem."

So it's important to recognize that you may not be in a position to resolve the situation on your own. You may need outside help, and that's OK. Without help, the abuse will likely continue. Leaving the abusive relationship may be the only way to break the cycle.

Getting ready to leave: Use a safety plan

Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. You're the only person who knows the safest time to leave. Make sure you prepare a safety plan so that you can act quickly when the time is right.

Consider taking these precautions:

* Arrange a safety signal with a neighbor as an alert to call the police if necessary.

* Prepare an emergency bag that includes items you'll need when you leave, such as extra clothes, important papers, money, extra keys and prescription medications.

*Know exactly where you'll go and how you'll get there, even if you have to leave in the middle of the night.

* Call a local women's shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 to find out about legal options and resources available to you, before you need them.

* If you have school-age children, notify the school authorities about custody arrangements, warn them about possible threats and advise the school on what information to keep confidential.

* As part of a safety plan, avoid making long-distance phone calls from home because the abuser could trace the calls to find out where you're going. And the abuser may be able to intercept your cell phone conversations using a scanner. Switch to a corded phone if you're relaying sensitive information.

* Also, be aware that the abuser may be able to monitor your Internet activities and access your e-mail account. Change your passwords, get a new e-mail account or access a computer at a friend's house or a local library.

Where to find help: Options abound

In an emergency situation, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency. If you aren't in immediate danger, consider contacting one of the following resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE or (800) 799-7233. Provides crisis referrals to in-state or out-of-state resources, such as women's shelters or crisis centers.

Your doctor or hospital emergency room. Treats any injuries and refers you to safe housing and other local resources.

Local women's crisis center. Typically provides 24-hour, emergency shelter for you and your children, advice on legal matters, advocacy and support services, and evaluation and monitoring of abusers. Some shelters have staff members who speak multiple languages.

Counseling or mental health center. Most communities have agencies that provide individual counseling and support groups to women in abusive relationships. Be wary of anyone who advises couples or marriage counseling. This isn't appropriate for abusive relationships.

Local court. Your district court can help you obtain a court order, which legally mandates the abuser stay away from you or face arrest. These are typically called orders for protection or restraining orders. Advocates are available in many communities to help you complete the paperwork and guide you through the court process.

"There are many resources available to help you if you are being abused." says Patterson. "You can have and you deserve a peaceful life."

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shared by Barbara at 12:25 AM



Great point you make. We never can know for sure that the abuse will stop. One thing though that people may want to leverage is that once an abuser admits to the wrong-doing, that may be a starting point to get them to serious counseling and to end the abuse

3:16 AM  

Dear Barbara,

Having just seen your blog, I thought this might interest you. In fact, my sisters and I know quite a few people who have been abused as children. We have a 70’s style rock band called Truth On Earth based on the life work of Gandhi who said that peace could best be achieved through truth and non-violent protest. We write, produce and sing about major problems and potential solutions in the world such as Child Abuse, Global Starvation, Cyber Bullying, Factory Farming & many other serious subjects.

Our mission is to unite people around the world to take action to create a better world so future generations will have a planet worth inheriting. We just released our first cd, and are working on our child abuse video. You can listen to our song and read the lyrics to our song called “Enough” on child abuse at :

I am hoping you and I can network as likeminded people for the common good and goals we share. Could you help me get the word out about our song and message to your network of folks who care about ending the horrible crime of child abuse? FYI, we give 70% of our profits to causes and organizations that support the subjects we sing about. We want everyone to become part of the solutions instead of just living the experience of the problems.

We are interested in discussing any ways we could possibly work together through linking, interviews, articles, postings, blogs, banners, using our song as your “theme” song, doing benefit concerts or even sending an email to your data base, media and any type of exposure you can think of that would further the cause. Since our music is available at iTunes and, we can literally reach to all corners of the world. We use the universal language of music with video to transcend our social issues message to leapfrog these hard topics over the apathy of the masses that are unaware of the depth of evil caused by some of their life choices...

My number is 847-565-9732. Please let me know if there is any way you can help at this time and when we could discuss this most important matter. You can hear more of our songs at and read more about our mission there as well. We also have a “Take Action” page on our website, for each of the problems we address. Here is a link to the child abuse “Take Action” page

My direct email is


6:35 PM  

I new to this so I know I got on the wrong page but please send comments i need them-help
I have been married since I was 19. We fell in love, we had alot of fun, maybe to much!! He loves me so much i know this. We have a son 24 and a daughter 11. He became interested in bringing another man into bed with us, i was young and i went along with it. I really have not been with anyone else not like this. I t was great for a while, I t started of slow and okay then became more frequent. on top of that he watches porn and talk to me about how that could be me. I am completely over this. it has gone on to long, my fault, but he still continues to watch porn and talk about this other man to get with us. we have been under alot of pressure but still this started before and now it's getting worse. i have no respect for him i feel like i will never to have the same relationship with him. but he loves me and has never ever hit me or been abusive in that manner. he works 6 says a week has be there26 years. I do not know what to do-HELP

11:22 PM  

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