If you're in an abusive relationship or live with domestic violence, then you need to get help
Maybe you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence. It can be threats or verbal abuse, being forced to have sex, being attacked and beaten or being hit or kicked every now and then. If someone is hurting or frightening you at home or in a relationship, then this is domestic violence.
Many young people grow up seeing violence between their parents, or seeing a parent being attacked or threatened regularly. Living with domestic violence means you are more at risk of abuse and you probably live with a lot of fear, stress, anger or sorrow.
Living with violence
The following are typical examples of abusive behaviour: frightening you, punching, kicking, slapping, choking, shaking, pushing or hitting you, pulling your hair, threatening you, your family, your friends or pets, making you have sex or do something sexual that you don’t want to do, constant criticism, controlling your life, taking your money, not letting you see friends, saying you’re "useless", "a slut", "stupid", blaming you, spitting at you, terrifying you with their temper and treating you like dirt. These are ALL abuse.
It’s all domestic violence
If you grow up with violence at home, you might not realise that it’s abuse or you might think that this is normal family life. It doesn’t matter if you are a victim of abuse or you see or hear other family members being abused; nobody should have to live with or witness domestic violence.
It can also damage your self-esteem to watch a parent being threatened, attacked, accused or cursed at constantly. Many people feel guilty about not being able to help or about feeling too frightened to do anything about the abuse.
It’s likely that if you live with domestic violence you’ll also become a victim, physically or through put downs, threats, being called 'useless' or 'stupid' or being forced to stay silent about the violence.
Problems that can be caused by domestic violence
- Stress, panic attacks, anxiety, anger, fear and depression. This can lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
- You might feel guilty or think that you deserve the abuse, that you’re not worth anything else or that it’s your own fault. Abuse is NEVER deserved, no matter how bad you feel about yourself. It’s the person hurting you who is in the wrong.
- You might become withdrawn and isolate yourself from friends or family. Or, you might start causing problems in school and get into trouble regularly.
- Nervousness and worry can cause physical illness such as headaches, eating disorders, feeling sick, not being able to sleep or bed-wetting.
- If you live with domestic violence or suffer from any sort of abuse, help is available and it IS possible to escape the situation. Don’t wait any longer.
- Contact Childline or the Gardai if it’s an emergency and ask for help. SAFE Ireland (for women and children) or AMEN (for men) can offer you emergency accommodation.
Escaping domestic violence
If you're in an abusive relationship or live with domestic violence, then you need to get help and escape from the situation.
- Tell someone you trust about the abuse and ask them to support you or go with you to the Gardai.
- If you can’t tell anyone that you know, you can speak confidentially with Samaritans.
- If the abuser is someone you know and love, it can be very difficult to speak out against what’s happening. Remember that even if they are nice most of the time, abuse is illegal and you shouldn’t have to ever put up with it.
- Sometimes an abuser will threaten to harm you or someone you love if you tell anyone what’s happening. They might say things like “I’ll kill you if you say anything”, “Nobody will believe you”, “This is our secret” or “I’ll hurt your brother if you say anything”. These threats are a way of frightening you into silence. If you tell the Gardai, they can make sure that you and other family members are safe from harm.
- If you don’t tell someone about the abuse, it will probably continue.
- If the abuser is living in your home then you might need a temporary place to live in safety. There are refuges for victims of abuse and the Gardai or police will be able to help you. If you’re under 18, you can get help from social services.
- Telling someone you’re being abused doesn’t mean that you’ll be taken away from your family. Social services will try to work out a situation that means you are safe from abuse, but still with your family.
- SAFE Ireland (for women and children) or AMEN (for men) can offer you emergency accommodation.
- If you have been sexually abused, you can visit your nearest Rape Crisis Centre.
- Even after the abuse has stopped, you might have emotional or self-confidence problems. Visit a counsellor to help you cope with your feelings.