In some relationships one person may be more dominant or forceful than the other and when the needs of one partner become excluded, there the relationship may become abusive.

Abusive relationships often develop gradually and can usually be identified by controlling patterns of behaviour or a disrespect for the other person within the relationship. These behaviours may occur gradually and be mistaken for jealousy or insecurity.

An abusive relationship is one where one or more of the following may be present:

  • There may be threats of physical violence including threats of  self-harm or suicide
  • Someone controls your behaviour and stops you doing what you want to do
  • Criticism and insults
  • One person’s needs are ignored

Abuse in relationships usually develops slowly, as the needs of one partner increases and those of the other decreases.

Abusers are usually needy and controlling and often act out deep-seated feelings of shame and inadequacy. Abusers often see themselves as the powerless victims of other peoples’ behaviour and struggle to accept responsibility for their actions.

Abuse may be a family dysfunction and is often a familiar pattern that both partners are trapped within. Abusive patterns are often based on an intense need for love and affection, a fear of being abandoned, low self-esteem, feeling isolated and may also involve drug or alcohol dependency.

Anger, jealousy, the need to feel powerful and in control linked with an inability to respect other people’s boundaries are all common characteristics of abusive people.

Low self-esteem and confidence, a background of being abused, difficulty expressing anger and inappropriate loyalty are all common traits of abusers partners.

How can counselling help?

  • Couples counselling may help assess if a relationship is      abusive or just unbalanced.
  • Long term abuse is not a suitable subject for working on as a      couple but individual counselling may be useful for the abused person and      assist them with detaching from their abusive partner and their      behaviour
  • Counselling may help restore self-esteem and reinforce healthy ways      of relating.
  • Specialist agencies can offer support to perpetrators to help      them explore their behaviour – counselling is not always appropriate      for abusers.

There are often difficulties with taking responsibility for abusive behaviour; often the victim of abuse assuming its their fault and the abuser adopting a “poor me” stance.

Domestic Violence:

According to the Home Office, domestic violence covers any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are, or have been, in a relationship. It also covers family members whatever their gender or sexuality.

Abuse may be psychological, sexual, emotional or financial. It maintains power and control of one person over another. Most victims are women, but men suffer, too. People in same-sex relationships also suffer. Over 100 women each year and 30 men die as a result of domestic violence in UK. It is not restricted to the poor or unemployed but exists right across society.

It has remained a ‘hidden crime’ for many years until the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act of 2004 when Police and agencies were given new, more effective policies to tackle it. Many families have condoned Domestic Violence for generations.

Relationship or Individual Counselling may help you assess what to do about a violent relationship, but it is advisable to attend alone for safety reasons. Specialist agencies and Professionals are also available for help and support. Domestic violence can include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Constant degrading and insults
  • Continuously finding faults in a partner
  • Threats
  • Bullying
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Punching, kicking
  • Suffocating
  • Homicide

Child Abuse:

Statistics show that every year thousands of children are abused physically by a parent or someone they know. Child abuse is characterised by any actions of a carer that could potentially harm a child’s mental or physical health. Research shows that many aggressors were abused themselves as children. The main areas of child abuse are shown below:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Child labour/exploitation
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often face problems in their relationships. Individual or Couple Counselling can help to address issues of trust and anger that may resurface in later life which may threaten an otherwise good relationship.

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