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"I never believed she'd abuse me."
Female violence is: Any behaviour which is adopted by a woman to control you, which causes physical, sexual or psychological damage or causes you to live in fear. Physical and sexual violence are the most obvious forms of violence. Pushing, biting, hitting, punching and using a weapon are all forms of violence. Forcing you to participate in sex is violence. Threats are a form of violence.
Men often say these are the most insidious forms of violence and abuse because they are difficult to explain and are often regarded as "ordinary relationship problems." You deserve to live and love free from violence. If you have been in a violent relationship, you may have some of these feelings:
It may be helpful to look at some of the ways you've coped until now: you have been careful about what you say, when you say things and how you say them. You have tried to talk to her about her stress, drug use or moods. You have given up doing anything likely to upset her. You adapt your behaviour to what she says she wants. You tried to make agreements or set boundaries.
Never think her violence is your fault. You may believe you are equally responsible for your partner's violence BUT you are not to blame. All violence has damaging consequences. Your belief in your worth and your sense of having rights and choices becomes eroded by constant abuse. You have a right to be safe - Violence is unacceptable There are many common beliefs about why women choose to be violent:
"she had a sad or traumatic childhood"
"she drinks or uses drugs"
"she has trouble expressing her feelings"
"she is oppressed as a woman"
"she can't control her anger"
"something about you drives her to violence"
THESE ARE ALL EXCUSES! We all experience stress, trauma, anger, and fear but a violent woman chooses to use violence to control and get her own way. She CAN control her violence but she chooses to control and abuse you. She uses violence deliberately to weaken your choices to act.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A CRIME Believing and trusting your own feelings You may not have believed until recently that her behaviour could be labelled as violent. If you feel scared and unsafe in her presence something is wrong. You are the best judge of how safe you are. You may not have told anyone about the violence. You may have told friends who have not understood your danger and distress. Acknowledge the pain and grief of abuse. You could: Tell friends you trust. Make safety arrangements such as organising a safe place to go, changing your phone number and locks. Telephone Men's Centre North Shore and talk to a worker, find out about your legal rights or see a counsellor.
REMIND YOURSELF THAT YOU DESERVE TO LIVE IN SAFETY AND THAT HER VIOLENCE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. People can be supportive by:
You can ring the Men's Centre North Shore Inc on (09) 415 0049
Or ring Mensline (09) 522 2500
We are grateful to the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre which produced this information on female violence for Lesbians. We have altered genders throughout as appropriate.