Recognising domestic violence

Often in the early stages, a woman may not realise she is in an abusive relationship. By the time she realises it, there are often many barriers to her leaving. What may start as verbal put-downs and controlling actions may well become physical assaults over time.
While we may feel we would be able to recognise an abusive relationship when it involves physical violence, relationships involving psychological or emotional abuse are more subtle, but no less destructive. If allowed to continue, these behaviours can escalate to include more physically dangerous abuse over time. It is important to recognise key characteristics of domestic violence so that abuse can be stopped before it becomes life threatening.

It is important to learn the signs.

You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:

• Continually criticises you, calls you names, and shouts at you
• Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive
• Prevents you from spending time with your family or friends
• Makes all the decisions in the relationship
• Monitors where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with
• Ignores and/or dismisses your opinions or accomplishments
• Does not want you to go to work
• Controls finances or refuses to share money
• Withholds approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment
• Threatens to hurt you, your children, your family, or your pets
• Makes you afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions
• Says that you were ‘asking for it’ after physically hitting or abusing you


You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:

• Damaged property when angry including throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors
• Grabbed, pushed, slapped, bitten or kicked
• Choked, punched or burned you
• Forced alcohol or drug use on you
• Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you
• Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving
• Prevented you from calling the Gardaí or seeking medical attention
• Hurt your children
• Prevented you from sleeping
• Used physical force in sexual situations


You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:

• Coerces sex by manipulation or threat of physical force
• Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles
• Demands sex at a time you are not willing
• Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships
• Wants you to dress in a sexual way that makes you uncomfortable
• Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
• Wants violent sex
• Demands sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you
• Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex.



You could be living with one of these behaviours or all of them. Remember – domestic abuse is not just physical violence; it is any behaviour that aims to exert control over you.


We can help…You are not alone.


Emotional abuse is underneath all other types of abuse – the most damaging aspect of physical, sexual, mental, etc. abuse is the trauma to our hearts and souls from being betrayed by the people that we love and trust.


Robert Burney

Teach Tearmainn will provide a safe place, support for abused women with or without children,

community outreach services and access to practice-based research in our shared goal to end domestic violence.