Domestic Abuse and Violence
From Seduction to Survival, Part Two
Written by Randi G. Fine
There isn’t any accurate way to predict who will abuse and who won’t. What we do know is that children who have grown up with abusive role models and learned that violence in a relationship is normal have a higher likelihood of becoming perpetrators themselves. And studies show that boys who witness abuse at home are seven times more likely to inflict abuse on others.
Wouldn’t it be great if potential domestic abusers wore a warning sign around their neck? In a sense they do.
As you get to know someone watch out for the following red flags:
- Low self-esteem – tends to belittle others to boost self confidence and feel more powerful
- Selfish about getting own physical and emotional needs met
- Too possessive – tends to isolate victims or invade their personal space too early in relationships
- Involved in conflicts with others, often angry with someone, and/or starting fights
- Addicted to drama – derive pleasure from constant chaos
- Inappropriately quick to anger
- History of using violence in the past and blaming others for causing it to happen
- History of criminal offenses or scuffles with the law
- Abusive or cruel to animals
- Substance abuse
- Poor or strained relationships with family members
- History of problematic romantic relationships
- Unmotivated, not working, or not going to school
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If red flags start flying do your homework. Investigate the person’s background and acknowledge its truth.
If you miss or ignore the warning signs and get deeper in the relationship, the following behaviors will clearly identify someone as an abuser:
- Never takes responsibility for his or her actions
- Lashes out at you and then justifies actions by blaming you for creating the problem
- Denies his or her mistakes
- Insists that what you’ve seen, heard, or experienced never happened
- Is extremely possessive and uncontrollably jealous
- Falsely accuses you of flirting with others or cheating
- Tells you how to dress and how to act
- Monitors your weight and your food intake
- Calls your cell phone constantly and/or insists on knowing who you are talking to when you’re on the phone
- Has a short fuse, violent temper, and is destructive
- Hurts you by destroying things that are personal or sentimental to you
- Is selfish and disrespectful
- Cheats on you, manipulates you, and lies to you
- Insists that you have sex when you don’t want to or in ways that disgust you
- Degrades you, calls you names, ignores you or your feelings, tells you you’re stupid, and/or tells you to shut up
- Accentuates your flaws
- Compares you to other partners
- Humiliates you in front of other people
- Threatens to hurt you, your family, or your pet
- Tells you you’re wonderful one minute and then berates you shortly after
- Say he or she can’t live without you and/or threatens to commit suicide if you leave
If you are being forced to exchange your rights, desires, and freedom of expression for your abuser’s mercy you are not in a relationship and this is not love.
Abuse is abuse; it is not acceptable no matter what the level. And you are not out of danger if you’ve yet to be physically assaulted. Emotional abuse often leads to physical violence.
Emotional abuse, abuse without battering, is no less damaging than physical abuse. One leaves physical scars, the other leaves emotional scars. One destroys from the outside in, the other destroys from the inside out.
Your situation cannot be compared to the situation of others as being better or worse, especially when it comes to physical violence. The risks of injury and death are the same whether you’ve been physically abused once or ten times. Studies show that abusers who assault once are likely to do it again.
If you recognize yourself as a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence, your survival is at stake. Don’t wait until you are maimed, killed or pushed to the point of retaliation. You must enlist the help of those you can trust; family, friends, abuse hotlines, or special programs. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources and references for everyone so that should be a first step whether you are a man or a woman. The number to call is 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-799-7233.