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We often consider the state of our physical and mental health – what we eat, how often we exercise, how much TV we watch, our stress levels. However, how often do we stop to think about the health of our relationships?
Relationships can form a huge part of our lives; taking up much of our time and energy. If a relationship is adding value to our lives and making us happy (most of the time) we assume that it’s healthy. Of course all relationships have their ups and downs and no relationship is perfect. But how do we know if a relationship is potentially harmful to us? Here are a few things to consider……..
Do I change my behaviour to try and avoid confrontation with my partner?
As we have already mentioned, all relationships have their difficulties, and at times we actively choose to compromise in order to make our partner happy. This is quite normal; most of us would want to please our partner within the context of a healthy relationship. However, modifying your behaviour, or hiding your feelings due to fear of confrontation with your partner can be a sign that your relationship is unhealthy. Sometimes those in abusive relationships use this as a coping mechanism and/or a form of self protection.
Do I feel isolated from friends/family?
Does your partner try to stop you from seeing other people? This can happen very subtly. For example, you have a night out with friends planned and at the last minute your partner says he/she would like to spend a night in alone with you. On the face of it, this could appear to be a romantic gesture, or even make you feel special. However, if this happens on a regular basis and your relationships with friends and family are being affected, this may be a way of your partner exerting control over you and your movements. Over time, you may become more dependent on your partner as a result.
Does my partner behave differently towards others than he/she does towards me?
This is common in unhealthy relationships. If this is the case then it suggests that your partner’s behaviour is controlled. He/she is choosing to behave in a particular way towards you and is able to make this choice. If your partner is treating you well in the company of friends or family, but not behind closed doors, you may start to question yourself (am I imagining it?) or find it difficult to talk to someone about it. Let’s be clear – there is no excuse for abusive behaviour – ever.
Do I ever feel frightened of my partner?
Feeling frightened of someone is a powerful response and shouldn’t be underestimated. It is unlikely that someone would feel frightened for no reason. If your answer to this question is yes, ask yourself ‘what am I frightened of?’. Is it physical violence towards you or your children? If your partner has threatened you, did you believe him/her? Sometimes a threat is enough to make you feel frightened.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone, regardless of gender, race, class, or age. An abuser can be a partner, ex-partner or a family member. There are many types of abuse that can occur in isolation or together – physical, verbal, emotional, financial and their impact can be far reaching. In extreme cases, victims can lose their lives – 2 women die every week in the UK at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.
Please remember that the abuse is never your fault and that there is help available.
If you are concerned about your relationship and the impact it is having on you, you can call the Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (24 hours) on 0808 2000 247 for advice.
Local Sources Of Support
The Athena Service: 0800 112 4052 www.lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/publicsafety/domestic-violence/Pages/Athena-service—run-by-Refuge.aspx
Solace Women’s Aid: 020 7593 1290 http://solacewomensaid.org/get-help/southwark/
National helpline: 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/