Mansfield counsellor advises people to remember that not all domestic abuse is about physical violence

If I were to mention the words ‘domestic abuse’, the first thing that would likely come to mind for you would be violence, writes Jason Hanson.

Whilst arguably all violence within a relationship may constitute domestic abuse, not all domestically abusive relationships contain violence.

Jason Hanson, Mansfield counsellor

Jason Hanson, Mansfield counsellor

Actually, some people are not even immediately aware they are in an abusive relationship whilst others may never become aware.

One of the reasons abusive behaviour can sometimes go undetected is because it can be done very subtly.

Much of this behaviour is about control, and this can be done in many ways.

One of the most common aspects of domestic abuse is isolation, by which we effectively mean isolating an individual from family and friends.

There are several reasons why perpetrators try to isolate a partner.

The first involves creating a dependency, whereby the victim is made to feel completely reliant on their partner, which allows the partner to exercise control.

Sometimes a partner may be extremely jealous and possessive, and in these instances you may see them try to remove their partner from their social setting, as an attempt to mitigate against their own insecurities.

On other occasions it can be about punishment.

Punishment does not always manifest itself physically, and it is not uncommon to see somebody cut off from their friends and family as an act of retribution.

Abuse can also be psychological, and there is an argument this can have a more detrimental effect than a physically abusive relationship.

Psychological abuse again is a form of control, and is designed to chip away at a person’s character, their confidence, their self-esteem, to reduce them to a state where they can feel grateful to have somebody who is willing to be in a relationship with them.

This again creates that reliance and the belief that others may not find them desirable.

Domestic abuse is such a vast topic that it is impossible to do it justice in a column.

However, it would be remiss of me not to address the stereotype that domestic abuse is synonymous with male perpetrators and female victims.

Numbers of male victims of domestic abuse are rising, and currently the gap between male and female in terms of the prevalence of domestic abuse is at its lowest rate since 2005.

If you feel like you are in an abusive relationship, there is advice and support available.

Sometimes the emotional scars take longer to heal.

For more support, visit www.mankind.org.uk/ (male abuse victims) and www.womensaid.org.uk/ (female abuse victims).