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Recognizing the different forms of spousal abuse

Like many marriages in North Carolina, yours is not as happy as it used to be. In fact, you are miserable and wonder if your spouse is abusive. Although your spouse has never struck or physically attacked you, you feel as if your spouse’s words and actions have crossed a line. Does this qualify as abuse?

Many people equate domestic violence with an angry spouse, often but not always the husband, who physically intimidates the other spouse, shouts, swears and terrorizes the children. These behaviors are tragically common in marriages across the United States, but they do not encompass all forms of abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence mentions other abusive behaviors that are not necessarily physical in nature, which may include the following:

  • Utilizing verbal assaults, such as screaming, threatening, insulting and belittling the other spouse into submission
  • Taking away basic rights to keep the other spouse under control, such as not allowing the abused spouse access to a phone, the internet, employment or money
  • Isolating the other spouse from family and friends
  • Breaking or taking away the other spouse’s personal possessions, especially if they are special or important
  • Coercing the other spouse into unwanted sex or intimate contact
  • Perpetuating a cycle of attacks, followed by apologies and improved behavior for several days or weeks, only to lapse back into abuse

Your spouse may never hit you, or one day you could find yourself under physically attack without warning. A common factor that most abuse victims report is the spouse being unpredictable and volatile – a feeling of “walking on eggshells,” without knowing when the next attack is going to come or how to prevent it.

You have resources and allies to help you escape an abusive marriage and start your life over. Law enforcement, the legal process and trusted family and friends are among these.

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