Is this abuse?

I thought it would be a good idea to post a link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s  list of questions, “Is this abuse?”

I remember very clearly when I realized I was being abused by my ex-husband.

It was after I had already moved out.

That’s right: I didn’t name it as “abuse” or “domestic violence” before then. I just knew I was afraid of him and I thought my life was in danger — and I wanted to protect our young daughter from him, too.

I was sitting in an ugly brown office in the LA Courthouse, waiting for a mandatory appointment with a counselor. I don’t know if the law has changed since then — this was 1990 — but when you sought divorce and had children, it was mandatory that you speak with a court-appointed counselor.

Before the counselor came into the room, I noticed a poster on the wall, titled something about “domestic violence.” It asked if you had experienced any of the following things in your relationship — similar to the ones on this list, which is provided on helpguide.org (that page also has several good resources with contact information).

I checked every one. Every single one.

Examples: Does your partner hurt you or threaten to kill you? (Yes.) Does your partner force you to have sex? (Yes.) Does your partner criticize you and put you down? (Yes.)

I literally felt sick to my stomach, and I had the sensation in my head that I might faint.

How could this happen to me?

Because it happens all the time. To people like me. To people who are different from me. There are no lines of demarcation when it comes to domestic violence: it can happen to anyone.

Is it happening to you? I hope not, but if it is, please call the hotline and seek help: 1-800-799-7233.

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