“But He Never Hit Me”

“…but he never hit me”

Those are the words that many *women say when confronted with the idea that they are in an abusive relationship. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical. In fact, a lot of physical abuse is dismissed because it doesn’t result in blood or broken bones. Touching in anger of any sort is domestic violence. This includes kicking, biting, pinching, shoving, choking, moving, jerking, and pulling your hair. “Hitting” doesn’t have to be with a closed fist or have to involve a weapon for it to be violence.

So let’s get clear on what abusive behaviors look like.

Using Fear, Coercion, and Threats

  • Making or carrying out threats to hurt you
  • Threatening to leave, report you to TANF, to commit suicide, to report you to ICE
  • Making you drop charges
  • Making you do illegal things
  • Abandoning you in strange places
  • Engaging in stalking

Using Intimidation

  • Making you afraid by giving you looks, actions, or through gestures
  • Smashing things
  • Destroying your property
  • Hurting your pets
  • Displaying weapons
  • Yelling
  • Driving recklessly with you in the car
  • Forbidding you from eating, sleeping
  • Keeping you from leaving the room, house or relationship

Using Emotional Abuse

  • Calling you names
  • Putting you down
  • Making you feel bad about yourself
  • “Gas lighting” you or making you feel like you’re crazy
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating you
  • Making you feel guilty
  • Withholding affection as punishment
  • Accusing you of cheating
  • Cheating and them blaming it on you
  • Distorting your words to make you seem crazy or wrong

Using Economic Abuse

  • Preventing you from getting or keeping a job or going to school
  • Making you ask for money
  • Giving you an allowance
  • Taking your money
  • Not letting you know about or have access to family money
  • Living in the home without contributing to the upkeep or finances
  • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities and shared expenses like food, transportation, utilities, clothing, etc.

Using Isolation

  • Controlling what you do, who you see, who you talk to, where you go, what you read, etc.
  • Limiting outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify his actions
  • Moving away from family and friends

Using Male Privilege

  • Treating you like a servant
  • Making all the big decisions
  • Acting like the master of the house
  • Being the one to define male and female roles

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming

  • Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously
  • Denying that the abuse happened
  • Blaming the abuse on the victim
  • Distorting what happened and why it happened
  • Preventing you from calling the police or getting medical attention

Sexual Abuse

  • Involving other parties in sex with you without your permission
  • Forcing you to watch porn
  • Forcing you to engage in sex or sexual practices that you do not want to
  • Holding you down to have sex
  • Hurting you with objects during sex
  • Purposely trying to give you a sexually transmitted disease

Using Children

  • Making you feel guilty about the children
  • Using children to relay messages
  • Using visitation to harass you
  • Threatening to take the children away
  • Teaching children to disrespect you
  • Undermining your authority
  • Threatening to harm the children

So essentially, domestic violence is an issue of power and control. The abuser wants power and control over most or all aspects of the victims life and is willing to use whatever tools he can to obtain it.

All abusers are not the same. Most do not look like monsters. In fact, most can appear very charming in public. Many can even have long periods of time when they aren’t abusive. One person may have one or two abusive tactics, while another may use many. It doesn’t matter if he only uses one, if you find yourself saying “…but he never hit me,” it’s time to take a look at your relationship. A relationship that robs you of your power robs you of your life force. A healthy relationship is one that affirms both parties and helps each partner to grow.

*For ease of reading, the feminine pronoun is used throughout to indicate the gender of the victim. However, survivors and perpetrators can be either gender.

Posted in relationships and tagged , , .