Defining Abuse: Recognizing the signs

Before anyone can have that “aha!” moment, that realization of what happened and what it means, the justification of understanding it’s not your fault, it is necessary to first go through the doubting phase.  Before even believing myself, I asked some of the following questions:

Did it really happen?  Or am I just making it all up?

Is that really abuse?  I thought it was just normal.

Will people still love me if I tell the truth?  Will anyone believe me?

And many, many more.

You are not alone.  I was not alone.  That is why I am writing this blog.  To remind myself and others that there is hope.

The first and most important step to healing from abuse is to recognize the signs.  According to, an organization that helps men and women seek shelter/healing from abuse and violence, the definition of Sexual Abuse/Assault is:

“any unwanted sexual act a person is forced to perform or receive that includes touching of the genitals or breasts. This includes rape, sodomy, touching or oral sex where the victim is unwilling or unable to give verbal consent — including being under 16 years old, intoxicated, drugged or unconscious.”

Whether it is childhood sexual abuse, rape, etc., it is abuse.  Men can experience it too, it is not a phenomena that happens only to women.

Domestic Violence is defined as:

“a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, education, religion, disability status, or sexual orientation. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or in a dating relationship.”

Some signs for domestic violence include: your partner forcing you to engage in sex, blaming you for his/her behavior, humiliating/criticizing you, constantly checking up on you and more.  For a complete list of Domestic Violence Red Flags, or to seek professional help from Safeplace, see their website:

If any of these signs sound familiar, you are in the right place.  Sometimes, and I know my case was one of them, it took looking at those checklists and definitions, for me to fully understand and accept what happened to me.  There it was, cold hard words, staring me right in the face, refusing to let me hide from myself any longer.

Still not enough for you?  Try talking to a counselor and hear a professional opinion.  Safeplace has 24-hour phone counseling available for anyone who needs it: 512.267.SAFE


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