Relationship abuse is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear, intimidation, and power. For an example of domestic violence, watch the following dramatization of a real-life abuse story.
Either partner can be the abuser, but the overwhelming majority of relationship violence is perpetrated by men against women. Physical abuse often begins with what is excused as trivial contact that escalates into more frequent and serious attacks.
Where she is prevented from resistance by the infliction, attempted infliction, or threatened infliction of bodily harm, accompanied by apparent power of execution; or is unable to resist due to any intoxicating, narcotic, or anesthetic substance.
This definition of marital rape does not apply to penetration or attempted penetration with a foreign object.
The Violence Wheel helps to link the different behaviors that together form a pattern of violence and shows how the violence is maintained through psychological abuse.
Tension begins to build in the relationship when the abuser starts criticizing, yelling, swearing, and using angry gestures, coercion, and threats--often threats to kill her and her children or her family. She realistically fears that the abuser will become more violent and may even kill her if she attempts to leave.
She may feel that she does not have the support of her friends and family, particularly if the abuser has isolated her from them. Usually the abuser has all of the economic and social status and the woman knows the difficulties of single parenting in reduced financial circumstances. There is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation and fear (see the Cycle of Violence). Reasons why women stay generally fall into three major categories: lack of resources, institutional responses, and traditional ideology. After being in a shelter, many women return to their batterers primarily because they cannot locate longer-term housing.
Violent fathers use school records or the presence of children at school to track down the mothers. Abusers may keep or destroy documentation like birth certificates and immunization records, thus preventing or seriously delaying the children's entry into school and the family's receiving welfare benefits or housing assistance. Religious leaders may believe in "saving" the marriage at all costs and may counsel the women to be "better wives." Religious women often feel compelled to stay in abusive relationships because of scriptural injunctions to "submit to their husbands," "turn the other cheek," or forgive.
Prosecutors are often reluctant to prosecute cases, and judges rarely levy the maximum sentence upon convicted abusers.
Despite the issuing of a restraining order, there is little to prevent a released abuser from returning and repeating the assault.
Despite greater public awareness and the increased availability of housing for women fleeing violent partners, there are not enough shelters to keep women safe.
Many women believe that a single parent family is unacceptable, and that even a violent father is better than no father at all. Many women are socialized to believe that they are responsible for making their marriage work.


Many women become isolated from friends and families, either by the jealous and possessive abuser, or to hide signs of the abuse from the outside world. Many women rationalize their abuser's behavior by blaming stress, alcohol, problems at work, employment, or other factors. Many women are taught that their identity and worth are contingent upon getting and keeping a man. The manner in which we react to our spouses is often related to the attachment we had with our own parents while we were growing up.
But expressing these needs and fears to our spouse may feel extremely vulnerable, particularly if it was never safe to express our needs or fears in childhood. This explanation is not intended to condone the abuse, and it probably does not apply to every abusive situation. The following questions can help you to determine whether your own relationship has characteristics of abuse.
Called or texted you several times a night or shown up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
Tried to keep you from leaving after a fight or left you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson"?
The Healthy Relationship Wheel offers a view of a relationship that is based not on power and control, but on equality and non-violence.
April 22, 2013 By Carisa Carlton Leave a Comment SharesWhether the relationships are with children, co-workers, lovers, strangers, or friends, boundaries are self-empowering and confidence boosting. Boundaries are a line you draw that marks the limits of your behavior and the behavior you will tolerate.
The boundaries you set with your children will leave a life-long impact on their characters.
In the past, I let some ill-willed individuals define me, and the same damaged my self-esteem to the detriment of everyone around me. For that reason, this description will refer to the abuser as a male and the victim as a female. It is an act of violence, anger, power, and control that stems from one person's determination to exercise power over another.
It shows the relationship as a whole and demonstrates how each seemingly unrelated behavior is an important part in an overall effort to control. During this "honeymoon period," the abuser might apologize, blame the woman or other circumstances, promise to change, or give gifts.
In reality, women who leave their abusers are at a 75 percent greater risk of being killed by the abuser than are those who stay. Leaving could mean living in fear, losing child custody, losing financial support, and experiencing harassment at work.
In the first year after a divorce, a woman's standard of living drops by 73 percent, while a man's improves by an average of 42 percent.
They treat violence as a domestic "dispute," instead of a crime where one person is physically attacking another person.


Perhaps the attachment was not safe, or maybe our parents were not responsive to our needs or minimized or ignored our needs.
Wrestling with a boyfriend is, at the least, a legal license for free touching and, at the most, a sign of a desire to dominate you.
Compare the characteristics of a healthy relationship to those of an abusive relationship and those listed in the scriptures. Boundaries affect children’s values, work ethic, the friends they choose, and even who they marry. Engaging in the process of an ongoing relationship that functions smoothly involves healthy boundaries that support and enhance the other person.
Your contribution and thoughts are an important part of building a strong community with healthy boundaries.
Finally, it may become life-threatening, with serious behaviors such as choking, breaking bones, or the use of weapons.
She believes that he is basically a "good man." If she believes that she should hold onto a "good man," this reinforces her decision to stay. Some people will tell you that it's because they have a domineering personality, or low self-esteem, or a bad temper, or because they see women as possessions, or because they abuse substances.
In those cases, when we get into a marriage, we may respond to our spouse based on these childhood attachment issues. For some people, whenever something happens that touches on that vulnerable place, they may flip up into anger, as a way to defend themselves against these painful emotions.
View the chart below for a self assessment of your boundaries — are they healthy or could you use a bit of self empowerment? It is an effective method for gaining and keeping control, and there are usually no adverse consequences for the perpetrator of the abuse. Without boundaries, you will never gain critical self-worth and empowerment necessary for a long-lasting, healthy, respectful relationship. The author, Stephen Martin MFT, is a licensed California Marriage Information about the Building Healthy Relationships program of the Center for Creative Here are links to pdf's of those worksheets which you can print for .To Resources of activity worksheet materials that are useful for preschool, primary, nursery and home schooling. When we have a strong sense of our self value, we can appreciate and respect qualities in our partner. When two people who come together with a clear definition of their boundaries, the potential for intimacy and commitment is great.
Differences can then be used as an instrument for growth, excitement, and alluring mystery.




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