Abuse isn’t just about bruises. Not all forms of abuse leave bruises where we can see them,Why Domestic Violence Victims 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 Children . 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 .
Why Domestic Violence Victims in South Africa ?
Have you ever experienced sexual abuse? Do you know that the negative experience you had may still be affecting you in the present?
In my practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I discovered that many women, and even some men, experienced sexual abuse. As I counseled the clients, they became aware of the negative decisions they had made from their sexual exploitation. In fact, many years later those painful thoughts were still affecting their lives in negative ways.
Some of the symptoms that it still influenced their lives were low self-esteem, avoiding dating, struggling in their relationships, not enjoying their sexuality, hiding their physical beauty, shyness, and doing everything to please others.
I included 14 hurtful thoughts that caused the above symptoms that I heard from many of the clients of all ages. Can you relate to any of them?
14 Negative decisions based on sexual abuse include:
1) I feel shame.
2) I am bad and dirty.
3) I am not safe in the world.
4) I can't trust men not to hurt me.
5) My parent or parents betrayed me because they did not protect me.
6) I can't trust people I love to be there for me.
7) I should have stopped it.
8) Sex is painful, dirty and wrong.
9) Men want me only for my body.
10) I feel guilty because it felt good.
11) I feel different than others; I am an outsider.
12) I have to hide my secret so people do not judge me.
13) I have to do what others want me to or I am not safe or loved.
14) It is not safe for me to get attention from men.
For example, Susan was molested by her father. As a result, she hated men and that affected all her relationships with the opposite sex. She also was very cute, free- spirited and loving as a child and that is when her father started to molest her. Her decision was many of the above negative beliefs, as well as it is not safe to be free, happy and shine. She just did what people wanted to stay safe. Her self-esteem was very low and that affected her social interactions and professional success. To stuff her pain, she overate and was obese.
Her mother knew but did nothing to protect Susan. (Mothers often cannot deal with the rejection so they deny it, and may also be afraid of their partners.) To help Susan, I suggested that she imagine her mother in front of her and say, "You did the best you could with the information you had, I forgive you."
Then I helped Susan release the other negative thoughts based on her negative experiences, and she felt much better, began speaking up for herself, and her relationship improved.
By the way, sexual abuse is one major cause of weight issues. Nancy told me that whenever she was thin, men made sexual comments and she did not feel safe. The weight is her wall of protection. "Helene, she said, "I have to make myself unattractive with my unattractive hairstyle, baggy clothes, and fat, for the men to leave me alone!"
Can you relate to Susan or Nancy? If you do, it would be very beneficial to release those hurtful decisions, so that you can enjoy a healthy and happy life.
5 Warning Signs to Recognize Senior Abuse
1. Sticks and stones won't break my bones" - and words won't leave any measurable physical damage, but they will cause progressive, long-term harm. Never underestimate the power of words: words are used to brainwash.
Being told you are "stupid", "ugly", "lazy" or "worthless" is never acceptable. The first times you hear it, it will hurt, naturally. In time you "may get used to" hearing it from a partner. That's when you start to internalise and believe it. When that happens you are doing the other person's work of putting you down for them. This is why your feelings of self-worth suffer increasingly over time.
The good news is that just as words have been used to bring you down, you can learn to harness the power of words to build you up and restore your confidence and belief in yourself.
2. You are always told that it's your fault. Somehow, whatever happens, however it starts, the ultimate blame is always yours. Notice that we are talking ultimate blame here. The blaming partner will always tell you that their behaviour was caused by what you said or did. In fact, their argument runs along the lines that you can't possibly blame them for anything, because if you hadn't said what you said, or done what you did it would never have happened.
3. You're more inclined to believe your partner than you are to believe yourself. Have you ever reeled with a sense of hurt and injustice, or seethed with anger at the way you've been treated? Have you found yourself asking: "Is it reasonable to feel like this?" "Am I misinterpreting things?" "Have I got it wrong?"
If this is you, what it means is that you have become so brainwashed you've stopped trusting in your own judgement. Your mind keeps throwing up the observations and questions because, deep down, you know that what is happening is utterly wrong. But right now you can't feel the strength of your own convictions.
4. You need your partner to acknowledge your feelings. Have you ever felt desperate to make your partner hear what you are saying and apologise for the hurtful things they've said? Have you ever felt that only they can heal the pain they've caused?
Does your need for them to validate your feelings keep you hooked into the relationship?
When a partner constantly denies or refuses to listen to your feelings, that is, unquestionably, mental abuse.
5. Your partner blows hot and cold. He can be very loving but is often highly critical of you. He may tell you how much he loves you, yet he is short on care or consideration towards you. In fact, some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time, he treats you as if you were someone he truly dislikes.
You do everything you can to make him happy, but it's never good enough. You're more like the pet dog in the relationship than you are the equal partner. Your constant efforts to get his attention and please him meet with limited success. Sometimes he'll be charmed, often he's dismissive.
If you find yourself puzzling about how your partner can treat you that way, it is because you are trying to live in a love-based relationship, when in reality you are living in a control-based relationship. The mental abuser struggles with his own feelings of worthlessness and uses his relationship to create a feeling of personal power, at his partner's expense.
6. You feel as if you are constantly walking on eggshells. There is a real degree of fear in the relationship. You have come to dread his outbursts, the hurtful things that he will find to say to you. (Maybe the same anxiety and need to please spill over into your other relationships also.)
Fear is not part of a loving relationship, but it is a vital part of a mentally abusive relationship. It enables the abuser to maintain control over you.
7. You can heal. Mentally abusive relationships cause enormous emotional damage to the loving partner who tries, against all odds, to hold the relationship together and, ultimately, can't do it, because her partner is working against her.
Whether you are currently in a mentally abusive relationship, have left one recently, or years later are still struggling with the anxieties and low self-worth and lack of confidence caused by mental abuse, it is never too late to heal.
But you do need to work with a person or a programme specifically geared to mental abuse recovery.
Women who have suffered mental abuse expect radical change of themselves, and they expect it right away. This is why they often struggle and, not uncommonly, take up with another abusive partner.
Mental abuse recovery is a gradual process. Low self-worth and limiting beliefs about what kind of future the abuse sufferer can ever hope for are the blocks that can stop women from moving on. But they are blocks that you can clear very effectively. Just as language was once used to harm you, you can now learn how language can heal you. You can overcome past mental abuse and keep yourself safe from it in the future. You can also learn to feel strong, believe in yourself and create the life and the relationships you truly want.
"The Woman You Want To Be" is a unique workbook designed to accompany you on a year long journey into emotional health and happiness.
(C) 2005 Annie Kaszina