How do you know that you are being abused?
It sounds like a crazy question. Of course you know you are being abused if your dad is beating you black and blue, or creeping into bed to have sex with you every night!
But, it really isn’t always that easy. Younger children or teenagers often have a huge trust in the adults in their family and believe them when they say it’s alright to behave in this way.
Or, if the adult who is abusing you tells you that you are to blame for the abuse, because you haven’t done well at school, perhaps, or haven’t helped enough around the house you might not recognize that you are being abused.
Often, kids who grow up surrounded by violence and abuse can think that this type of life is normal and are unable to recognize it as wrong and abusive. You need to know that no sort of abuse is OK! Even if you are living in a family where one of your parents abuses the other in front of you, you too are a victim of abuse. You deserve help and help is available.
Why abuse happens
If you are caught up in an abusive situation, you probably ask yourself ‘Why?’
It’s a very good question. The first thing to understand, absolutely and completely, is that it is not your fault. It doesn’t matter if someone tells you that you are to blame, you’re NOT.
Many abusers try to shift the blame for their behaviour onto the victim, but this is their problem and part of their abuse. No one, least of all a child or young person, deserves to be abused no matter what they have done, not done or are accused of doing.
There are as many reasons why a person becomes abusive as there are different types of abuse…and different types of people. Not all abusers are really bad people…but all are doing a bad thing.
Sometimes, a person abuses others because they themselves have grown up in an abusive family and been a victim of abuse. They grow up thinking that abuse is normal, and transfer this behaviour to their adult lives and family relationships if the problem hasn’t been properly dealt with at the time.
Others may not be able to draw the line between discipline and abuse. Some can’t deal with the stress that they find themselves under, perhaps due to financial problems or family illness.
Mental illness, such as depression can also induce abusive behaviour, as can alcoholism and drug use.
Abusers like these can be helped if they ask for counselling and therapy…but they need to fully commit to solving the problem and might need help for a long time.
If you are being abused by a family member, you might think that reporting the abuse and asking for help is a betrayal, but actually it is the only way to help not just yourself, but also your abuser.
If you have been living in an abusive relationship, you may feel confused and afraid and not know where to turn or what to do.
You may have mixed feelings of love and anger; wanting the abuse to end, but not wanting the relationship to be over.
If you are in immediate danger call 911.
For help contact: Interior Health Crisis Line 1-888-353-2273.
The Anti Violence Advocates Society of Barriere is collecting cell phones and their chargers to be used by families planning to leave an abusive situation. Drop off your old phones at Armour Mountain Office Services. Thank you to Media Esteem. Kevin has agreed to clear the phones to factory settings.
This column is courtesy of the Anti Violence Advocates Society of Barriere.