Salamat Dok: Are you in an abusive relationship?

By Stefano Gelano, Salamat Dok Contributor

Posted at Jan 24 2014 10:45 AM | Updated as of Jan 30 2014 01:53 AM

Many people quietly suffer the indignity of being in an abusive relationship, but are not aware of it or will not readily admit to the abuse.

Here are some of the warning signs of abuse and how to deal with an abusive relationship.

What is abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. Men are sometimes the victims, but more often than not, domestic abuse is directed toward women. However, domestic abuse can likewise happen in either straight or same sex relationships.

Abuse is generally characterized as any behavior that’s used to punish, humiliate, manipulate, or embarrass another person.

According to Dr. Maria Imelda Batar, chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry of The Medical City (TMC), abusive partners often demonstrate an insensitivity to the physical and psychological needs of their partners. There is also a tendency to separate their partners from friends, family and other social contacts.

Finally, the abuser cares little or even ignores completely the rights of their partner such as their right to privacy, right to be happy, or to have their own possessions.

Overt and subtle signs

Abuse can be overt, and can take the form of actual threats, stalking, vandalism, and discreet monitoring of communications such as cellphones, text messages and email accounts.

At the same time, abuse can be more subtle. For example, the abuser exhibits fits of overreacting that keeps the abused partner frightened or on his or her toes, gives subtle spiteful remarks disguised as "compliments," provides advice that's said to be "for your own good," or even offers to "help" by managing the abused partner's money, career, or relationships with others.

Pattern of abuse

According to the Mayo Clinic, you might recognize this pattern if one is in an abusive relationship:

• Your abuser threatens violence.
• Your abuser carries out the threat.
• Your abuser apologizes, assures you he or she will change and offers gifts.
• Then the cycle repeats itself.

Typically the violence recurs and escalates, or worsens over time.

Typical profile of an abused victim

Dr. Batar adds that the typical abused partner is either perceived to be weak or passive, or poor. In other words, victims are usually people who are dependent on the abusive partner.

Abused victims are usually women, children, the elderly or the disabled. They are oftentimes poor and are therefore financially dependent on the abuser. More often than not, the victim is undereducated or lacks a formal education completely. Sometimes, victims have had an abusive relationship in the past.

Characteristics of a potential abuser

Dr. Batar also provided the typical traits of a potential abuser. These are:

1. A history of being abused during childhood.
2. Undiagnosed personality disorder
3. A history of substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol
4. Extremely jealous

Help for victims escaping an abusive relationship

Getting out of an abusive relationship is difficult. In fact in many cases, it becomes a vicious cycle where the victim escapes or leaves but later on has no choice but to go back to the abuser.

Experts agree that the victim must begin by acknowledging the problem exists. Victims should be aware of the danger signs at the earliest possible time. Dr. Batar, in particular, cautioned victims to stop thinking an abuser will change or mend his or her ways – in many instances they will not, especially in the absence of psychological help or counseling.

Victims should seek the help of family members or friends in case the abuser comes to take the victim back. Additionally there are support groups that can provide shelter and help to victims who want to escape. – with reports from Alexandra Geronimo and Gina Tobias, Multimedia Producer Yam dela Cruz

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