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Our Turn: Naming the Beast

“I came to TPN after I exhausted all other options and felt I had nowhere else to turn. I went as a last resort. I remember sitting in a chair across from the advocate and, as she was trying to offer me services, I stopped when she used the word ‘abuse.’ It felt wrong. I did not know if I would go that far…that I had been ‘abused’. Does my situation classify as abuse?”

Many people do not recognize abuse when it is their “normal.” This perception is due, in part, to abusers minimizing their mistreatment of their partner. While abusive behavior cannot always be predicted, abusers may exhibit similar behaviors.

Initially, abusers may appear charming and sensitive, saying they have never felt this way before about anyone. They may exhibit jealous behaviors, justifying that they are just scared to lose you. As the relationship develops, you may notice more possessive behaviors, such as your partner demanding you spend all your time with them instead of your friends and family. The explanations for this behavior may turn to blame. Your partner may say they do not want you going out with friends who are “bad influences,” because it results in you drinking, wearing “that” dress, and flirting with other people. In addition, they may claim to need the car so it is not available for you.

As they continue to distort their image of you, you become an easier target for their resentment and degradation. With their opinion of you as an object to control, they feel entitled to force you to have sex with them or withhold all affection. They may also feel it is their right to become physical in other ways, presenting as a flick to the nose to “get your attention” perhaps escalating to pushing and even strangulation.

Abuse. It comes in different forms including emotional, financial, physical, and sexual. Do you find yourself making excuses to your friends, not having access to your finances, covering up bruises, or patching a hole in the door, racking your brain to figure out what you did this time to upset your partner? It is not your fault. Turning Points can provide support.

OUR TURN is a public service series by Turning Points Network (TPN) serving all of Sullivan County with offices in Claremont and Newport. We provide wraparound supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking and we present violence-prevention education programs in our schools. For more than 40 years, TPN has helped people of all ages move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing, and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook and Instagram.

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