Abuse isn’t just about bruises. Not all forms of abuse leave bruises where we can see them,Domestic Violence Shelters Near Me in South Africa . Although physical abuse is terrifying and needs to be addressed immediately there are other forms of abuse that can cause significant damage. One type of abuse that is very difficult for outsiders to detect is financial abuse. Marriage should be a partnership but when one spouse completely dominates the finances to the point that the other spouse has no control and no options financial abuse may be occurring.
What Are Signs of Potential Financial Abuse?
Every married couple handles their finances differently. In some cases one spouse handles the majority of the finances. They manage the accounts, pay the bills and deal with creditors. That does not by itself equal financial abuse.
Financial abuse occurs when one spouse is treated like an irresponsible child and Domestic Violence Effects On Society . They are cut off from funds and their knowledge about the couple’s finances is severely limited. Some signs of financial abuse include:
•Strict Allowances. This isn’t an amount that the spouses have agreed to limit themselves to but is instead a set amount that is grudgingly handed out from one spouse to the other and is all that will be given.
Documents, documents, documents. Written evidence is incredibly strong and can range from credit card bills showing that there is a credit card but that you aren’t named on it to emails from your spouse that show the financial abuse.
Other witnesses can be incredibly powerful on your behalf. Financial abuse is hard for people outside the relationship to detect. So when someone credible comes in and tells the judge that it is happening and they can see it the judge will listen and Domestic Violence Organisations .
Domestic Violence Shelters Near Me in South Africa ?
It can be difficult to describe what abuse is and this is because the word 'Abuse' can mean different things to different people. For one person it might relate to emotional pain, for another it might involve physical pain. With there being different degrees of pain and hurt within these two forms of violence.
As a general guideline: this could be behaviour that occurs here and there, without it happening often enough to cause too many problems. Or it could be experienced to such an extreme that one's life becomes unbearable.
In this analysis I am going to be looking at what I currently believe causes abusive behaviour and the type of individual that commits abusive behaviour on a regular basis.
The Dictionary.com Definition
Here, it is described as the following:
• To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one's authority.
• To treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse.
• To abuse one's eyesight; to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
• To commit sexual assault upon: Obsolete - to deceive or mislead.
What comes to mind when I think of abusive, is compromise. When one is abused they are not being respected or treated in a humane way, they are being treated as objects. The abused person's feelings do not register to the abuser and if they are recognised, it is not enough to end the behaviour.
Empathy And Compassion
If one can't feel their own feelings, it is then a lot easier to do destructive things to another. The question is: why wouldn't the abuser have the ability to empathise or to be compassionate with another person?
It is said that the ability to empathise and to be compassionate is developed through caregivers that display the same behaviours to their children. This is also known as healthy mirroring and validation. What also happens through this process is that the child feels noticed and acknowledged, which are of paramount importance for the development of a healthy sense of self.
It could be said that because of their past, the person that displays abusive behaviour is abusing themselves just as much, if not more than they are abusing others. This is because the original abuser has been internalised. And even if the original abuser is not longer alive or around; they still have the potential to exist in the mind of the abuser or abused.
Here the voice exists like a parasite in the mind, merging with the mind and this makes it hard to notice and eliminate.
This shows that it is typically a two way relationship. With people who have been abused being more likely to be attracted to an abuser. If one has been abused in their younger years and it has not been looked at processed, the mind will then continue to associate this as what familiar and safe.
It will also mean that the abused will put up with this behaviour later in life. If this is what they have experienced as a child, one will then think that it is normal and all they deserve.
If one was abused by their own caregivers, it is only normal for them to assume that this is how people are that that the world is therefore unsafe and dangerous. And also that people can't be trusted.
To experience abuse can be extremely traumatising; with the consequences of abuse having the potential to last a life time. Time is said to be one of the greatest healers. Being around supportive people that one can feel safe around and who can listen without judgement is equally important.
This could be in the form of friends, family or a therapist. Here they will listen and acknowledge what is being said without judgement or blame. This is a process that cannot be rushed, and will happen in its own time and when one is ready to face what has happened. There is not a right or wrong time, only the time when one feels ready to undertake such an important step.
Abuse and Its Effects on Self-Esteem and Positive Identity
Good self-esteem or positive identity is an asset to any person. It helps improve relationships, confidence, job performance and makes it easier to enjoy and embrace life to the fullest. When a person has been abused, their good self-esteem is threatened and often lost. Understanding how this happens and knowing practical ways to deal with it can be valuable tools in our self-help toolbox!
Each of us is born with the gift of individual person-hood. Our unique genetic make-up and DNA set us apart from all others. We have boundaries that help us to know where we stop and where others start. Inside of these boundaries and within the context of our individual person-hood, we are free to grow, to question, to risk, to explore and to experience life in our own unique way! If allowed to continue and encouraged from those closest to us, we become comfortable in our own skin (within our own boundaries) and a positive identity develops.
Abuse is an invasion of those boundaries; an attack on our individual person-hood. Abuse happens when someone stronger than ourselves overpowers us, either emotionally, physically, verbally or sexually. Even if the abuse is not "severe" in comparison to what others have experienced, the impact on our self-esteem can be severe. The boundaries between us and the perpetrator are blurred. We tend to own some or all of the blame for the abuse and thus take on what rightfully belongs to the invader. With our boundaries destroyed and our person-hood invaded, we are left vulnerable to the world around us and confused about who we really are.
A common reaction to the invasion of abuse is withdrawal. Sometimes the victim will withdraw so far that they actually dissociate from the event completely. This may be good in the long run except for the fact that the dissociation almost always involves other emotions, longings, fears and identity markers that can no longer be accessed. People who are extremely shy and introverted, people who are emotionally shut down and people who lack in social graces are often (not always) reacting to some kind of abuse. The invasion has left them afraid to feel, afraid to connect and afraid to make a mistake.
Another reaction to the invasion of abuse is an attempt to build a wall of defense. The feeling of vulnerability is countered by erecting some kind of wall that we believe will protect us. We can become very angry and keep others at arms length by our temper. We can become very controlling and thus minimize the possibility of future hurt. We can become very sarcastic or funny to deflect our real feelings. We can become an overachiever so that others will identify us by our accomplishments and not by our fears. These walls feel protective but are actually putting us in bondage. We cannot do life without our anger, control, sarcasm, humor or achievements so we are not free to be who we really are... we are forced to keep up the act... and that is exhausting.
This second reaction was my own way of dealing with childhood sexual abuse. I kept the walls firmly in place from age 11 until age 35. At that point, exhausted from trying to keep myself safe, I attempted suicide, not out of despair as much as out of exhaustion!
When we react in either of these ways to abuse, we end up losing ourselves, our true identity, our positive identity or self-esteem. There is another way. From my own experience I have learned the power of these positive and practical steps that can lead us out of brokenness and into confidence in who we really are. Consider the following:
1) Be honest about our abuse.
We cannot properly deal with all of the feelings and reactions associated with our abuse if we refuse to face what actually happened. As with any recovery program, admitting the problem is the beginning of healing.
2) Forgive those who hurt us.
Holding on to the anger, hatred, malice or even ambivalence toward our abuser only keeps us tied to them and to the abuse and its consequences. Forgiveness does not mean that you are saying it was no big deal. It is not saying that you would let them hurt you again. It is not saying that it did not happen. Forgiveness is simply a choice to release them after coming to the conclusion that there is nothing they could do that would take away what happened to us.
3) Surrender our coping mechanisms.
Just as we have to be honest about our abuse, we have to be honest about all of the ways that we have developed to try to help ourselves cope with the abuse. What walls have we erected? What masks have we put on to hide from others? What self-medicating habits have we picked up? Name these coping mechanisms and then willingly lay them down. We may need to invite a few people who are close to us into this process since we often have blind spots related to coping.
4) Embrace the truth about who we really are.
Learn to look beyond what happened to us to the person we really are on the inside. At this point, having a relationship with God is a key factor. If we have become connected with our Creator through the sacrifice of His Son Christ Jesus, we get our true identity from Him. We are His sons and daughter, regardless of our abuse, achievements, failures or coping mechanisms.
5) Join a safe community.
At this point, with walls torn down and feelings exposed, belonging to a community where we feel safe is vital. A support group, home group, counselor or accountability group can provide a place for us to grow in our new positive identity. People who know our need for healing and encouragement will be a great help in this process of rebuilding.
Commit with me not to allow past abuse in our lives to rob us of our positive identity. Choose life!