By Celestine Aboagye and Joshua Phillips
The HHS Comet recently held a series of informational press conferences with several knowledgeable HHS sources about the subject of abusive relationships. In this, our special “Relationship Abuse” edition, we will be explaining what relationship abuse is, the types of toxic relationships, who they affect, and what can be done to help.
Abusive behavior happens for specific reasons, said Community Educator, Bergen County Alternatives to Domestic Violence Ms. S. Millard. She explained, “Abusive relationships are about control and power, [they are] defined as patterns of abusive behavior in which one partner exerts and maintains power and control over the other.”
Abusiveness also tends to escalate over time when one person psychologically and/or physically mistreats the other partner. Ms. S. Millard also pointed out control is the most pressing part of partner abuse and is the area that will provide the most red flags.
While a common thread is that toxic relationships only occur between intimate partners, this line of thinking is completely fallacious. When asked by the HHS Comet, Ms. J. Millard, HHS Licensed Clinical Social Worker, said, “Toxic relationships are more than just boyfriends and girlfriends, including friendships as well as family ties.”
In toxic partnerships, the victim can encounter verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Being a victim takes a dramatic toll on a person, affecting his or her decision making. “The question often asked is “why would you stay” you shouldn’t ask this because it’s a very victim blaming question,” Ms. S. Millard said.
Anyone can be a victim, so it is also important to understand when someone is an abuser.
An individual tends to become abusive when he or she believes that he or she have the right to the control the person he/she are dating. The abusive partner in most cases believes he or she know best, he or she should be in charge of the relationship, and even think that unequal relationships are ideal.
The abuser first begins acting in a negative way by being psychologically abusive. He or she starts with minor abuse by maybe expecting his or her partner to do something, and then get upset when it is not done; or not done the way he or she likes.
One may ask if an individual is being abused, then why are they still in the relationship?
Secrecy is what allows partner abuse to flourish. It is important to not really hold in secrets but to find someone you trust and can talk to about what is happening. This can prove difficult because at times people are scared of talking about what is going on in their relationship because they think they might get in trouble with their abuser.
HHS Licensed Social Worker Ms. Ruff from Drop In explained to our reporters how some abusers have narcissistic personalities and are always thinking about themselves. They believe things are always someone else’s fault. They also have a sense of entitlement over anything, and they may tend to be more abusive. They have beliefs that their partner should do what they want them to and they make their partner the culprit.
Ms. Ruff also said, “Abuse is present when there is threats such as I am going to leave you, neediness is more making the person feel guilty”.
With that being said, victims must also remember that it is never the victim’s fault when she/he is being abused by a partner.
Partner abuse does not have on sole cause. is not caused by alcohol, drugs, or stress it is always the abuser’s choice to be abusive.
If you suspect you are in an abusive relationship seek support. Being comfortable and familiar is not what is always best for us, for it is better to get help then for things to be too late.
As the other articles in our special issue will address partner abuse is a serious matter that deserves respect and attention.