Domestic Violence – Why does my partner abuse me?

Domestic violence is a conscious choice with absolutely no excuses. Sounds easy to understand but what happens if a person is justifying their violent actions?

DA Family Lawyers in Brisbane have uncovered some confronting statistics. Half of women have experienced violence at the hands of their partner in a relationship as well as a quarter of men.

Stereo typically, the presumable person committing the acts of domestic violence is the male partner in a relationship. However, this may not be the case. Research shows that 1 in 3  victims in a domestically violent relationship is the male partner.

What is classed as Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence comes in many shapes and forms. Under the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2012, domestic violence means behaviour by a person (the first person) towards another person (the second person) with whom the first person is in a relevant relationship that:

  • Is physically or sexually abusive; or
  • Is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
  • Is economically abusive; or
  • Is threatening; or
  • Is coercive; or
  • In any other way controls or dominates the second person and causes the second person to fear for the second person’s safety or well being or that of someone else.

Typically, domestic violence occurs as verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse. However, verbal abuse and emotional abuse are forms of domestic violence that can sometimes be overlooked when dealing with or identifying domestic violence.

It is common for domestic violence to occur as mutual violence, where both partners commit domestic violence towards each other.

Signs of an abusive relationship

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most common sign is being fearful of your partner. Other signs include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, or feelings of self-loathing, helplessness or desperation.

Abuse can often start out small, with a shove or a nudge, or with negative verbal communication or name calling, but research shows that these behaviours commonly increase in severity as the relationship continues. These behaviours are often related to the following:

Desire to take Control/Dominance

Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question.

            Feelings of Vulnerability, Humiliation, and Isolation 

A more confusing feeling to deal with; vulnerability, feeling exposed or powerless in a relationship can come out in the form of violence. A person may feel vulnerable if they i.e. are unhappy with the progress of their life or suspect their partner might leave them.

An abuser will make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. This humiliation can come in the form of insults, name-calling, shaming and public put-downs.

In order to increase your dependence on your partner, the abusive partner will try to isolate you from the outside world. E.g. Keep you from seeing family or friends or even prevent you from going to school or work.

It’s important to realise that there is never a valid reason for violence in a way that makes it acceptable; it is never OK to verbally or physically abuse your partner.

The cycle of domestic violence

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:


  1. Abuse – your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling or violent behaviour.
  2. Guilt – after committing domestic violence against you, your partner feels guilt. Research shows that this guilt is associated with the risk of being caught or facing consequences for the abusive behaviour.
  3. Excuses – the abuser rationalizes what they have done and may create excuses for the abusive behaviour.
  4. “Normal” behaviour – they do everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.
  5. Fantasy and planning – fantasies of committing domestic violence against their partner starts to develop and plans are made to try and find a reason to commit domestic violence again.
  6. Set up – this is putting the fantasy and plan into action where the abuser will create a situation where he can justify committing domestic violence again.

Where can I get help?

Many avenues are available for victims of domestic violence. If you believe you may be in a violent and abusive relationship, Call 1800 811 811 to speak to someone or visit the Queensland domestic violence hotline website.

If you have a problem controlling your anger around your partner, call 1800 RESPECT for help with dealing with your emotions.

DA Family Lawyers have a zero tolerance toward domestic violence. If you want to take action or simply weigh up your options and entitlements, contact us now.

If you are in any danger – call 000 immediately.