What is Abuse? For the Trans community

Publication Date: 
2010
Resource Origin: 
Springtide Resources

Abuse has to do with Power and Control. In an unhealthy relationship, one partner begins doing things to try to exert power over their partner.

When people hear the word abuse (or violence, or domestic violence, or intimate partner abuse) we tend to immediately think about physical violence: hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, strangling. But abuse is more than that. Abuse can also be emotional/psychological, financial, and sexual.

Emotional/psychological abuse includes things like being called names, having your pronoun or gender or prefered name not respected, constantly needing to tell your partner where you are and who you are with, your partner telling you that you'll never be a "real" women, a "real" man, or a "real" anything else. Emotional abuse can and often does eventually lead to physical abuse.

Financial abuse happens when one partner is partially or fully dependant on the other for money, food, rent, or other things. It can go both ways. On the one hand, some partners may make you dependant on them for money so that they can control you. And on the other hand, some partners may force or talk you into taking care of them financially in ways that make you uncomfortable or are beyond your means.

Sexual abuse includes unwanted touching and forced sex (rape). It also includes things like your partner refusing to use a condom, dental dam, or glove when you ask them to. They may try to avoid using these safer sex supplies by sulking, pouting, arguing, yelling, or forcing you to have sex without it. They might try to talk you into not using safer sex supplies by saying that because you are a sex worker, not using condoms with your partner is the only way to make it "special." This is an abusive lie that can lead to higher risk of HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, and other STIs.

Abuse doesn't happen once, it's a cycle.

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As you can see, abuse is a pattern. Things start out great, then one partner begins to control the other. Things get more intense, and then eventually turn violent. After the violence, the abusive partner will apologize a lot and try to make it up to you. They'll make promises about never doing it again. Then the controlling behaviours begin again, and the cycle continues. It often starts with small incidents, and over time gets worse and worse if nothing is done to stop it. Ignoring the cycle of abuse only allows it to get worse. This cycle can only end in one of two ways: one partner leaves, or one partner dies.

It doesn't have to be this way. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.

If you are being abused, know that it isn't your fault. You do not control anyone else's behaviour. You didn't cause any of this to happen, abuse happens because the abuser decided to do it. You are not alone, and there are ways out.

Resource developed by Morgan Page for T-GUAVA.

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