They’re just words …

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The words violence and abuse come up a lot when we’re talking about domestic and family violence. Some people think of violence as a physical thing, and abuse as verbal and other non-physical acts of harm, but they both talk about the same kinds of behaviour.

People often overlook verbal abuse as not being ‘real’ domestic violence. But it can be very damaging, and it’s often the tip of the iceberg. For a lot of men who use abusive behaviour, a lot of the abuse is ‘under your radar’. You can be so used to acting and talking in a certain way, and don’t notice how it harms your relationships. Or maybe you justify it to yourself … “it’s normal”; “she can’t take a joke”; “she knows I don’t mean it”; “I’m just telling it like it is”.

… but words matter.

Words matter because we know they mean something. Words can harm and words can heal. And it’s how we use our words – the feeling and intentions behind the words that really affect people. Nasty put-downs and digging up hurtful things to say destroys the good feelings that relationships are built on.  Threats and intimidating words create fear. This sort of abuse destroys trust and safety – and that doesn’t come back just because the words stop.

Both violence and abuse refer to behaviour that violates the other person’s need for safety and wellbeing, and causes harm. In this website, we use either word. The law talks about domestic and family violence and that also covers anything you might call abuse in these relationships.


Dealing with other people’s behaviour … 

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