If you are a woman and wondering whether or not you are involved in an abusive relationship, there are several signs to look out for. These signs are sure, but they are often clouded by the denial that many women go through in an attempt to make the relationship work…as well as the fear that can come at the thought of leaving.
The numbers are quite frightening in regard to the number of women who are battered by partners. According to the National Organization for Women, approximately 4 million are battered by their partners each year. Another factor to consider are the number of women who are beaten down with words, intimidation, threats, and isolation.
If you believe that you might be in an abusive relationship, pay attention to these signs. You owe it to yourself to be honest in asking yourself these tough questions:
-Does he try and keep you from family and friends? If your partner tries to keep you all to himself, isolating you from family and friends, be careful. Many women misinterpret this as a sign of love and feel flattered that he wants undivided attention. The reality is that a man who is abusive wants you to have little contact with those who care about you because it lessens the chance that they will recognize any signs of abuse.
-Are you afraid of your partner? Pay attention to your reactions when he is angry. Do you find yourself retreating? Do you find yourself trying to pacify him even though you know he is wrong?
-Has he ever hit, pushed, bit, slapped, or caused you any other form of bodily harm? This is never okay. It doesn’t matter whether or not you provoked him. It doesn’t even matter if you hit him first. The fact remains that he is a guy. He is stronger than you. He can always walk away. His choice should never be to lay hands on you.
-Has he ever threatened you? Does he threaten to divorce you, abandon you, hurt you, kill you, or cause any kind of pain (emotional or otherwise) to you or to others you care about? If he does, this is abuse.
-Does he call you names or put you down? This is a way of attacking your self esteem. If you start to believe his lies that you are unworthy, then you will start to believe you deserve nothing better than the abuse he is inflicting.
-Is he controlling? Does he control the money you spend, where you go, and who you spend time with? Does he need to know where you are every minute of every day? This, again, is often mistaken by women as loving gestures. In truth, they are signs of potential violence.
-Do you find yourself making excuses for his behavior? Many times, family and friends are the first to recognize signs of abuse while the person being abused continues to live in denial.
Rita had been married for 15 years. She found herself always making excuses for her husband’s rude behavior. Some of her most common excuses were “He is just stressed….he is tired….he is just kidding…he is having a bad day…he isn’t usually like this.” The list could go on and on. After 15 years of making excuses, Rita came to the realization that she was just living in denial about her husband’s abusive behavior.
-Does he have angry outbursts where he kicks furniture, walls, and breaks things? Many women do not take this behavior seriously. Some even joke about it saying, “At least he isn’t hitting me”. Even if he has not hit you yet…he is a time bomb. All it will take is for you to be in his way when he is having an angry outburst.
-Does he refuse to take responsibility for his behavior? An abuser rarely takes responsibility for his behavior. He justifies his actions by saying you deserved the treatment. In other words, if you had not behaved in such a way, he would not have had to punch you in your face. See how ridiculous that sounds? To an abused woman, however, those words only feed her lack of self esteem and she has a tendency to believe what the abuser says to her.
–Does he ridicule you in front of family and friends? An abuser has no hesitation about putting you down in front of your family and friends. First of all, remember that he is trying to keep you from them anyway. What better way than to ostracize them so that they never want to be around him? He knows that if you are forced to choose between him or your family, you will probably choose him. After all, who else would want you? (at least, this is what he wants you to believe). It is nothing but a lie.
After asking yourself these tough questions, make the decision to be honest with yourself. You are worthy of being loved and treated with dignity and respect. You should never be put down or ridiculed in any form or fashion. You should never be harmed physically by anyone…especially by someone who is supposed to love you.
There is help for you. From this moment on, you will only be a victim if you choose to be. Take control of your life and get help. Tell someone what you are going through. Tell your family, your friends. Tell your pastor, your co-workers. Call the National Domestic Violence hotline (available 24/7 in every state) at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or at (800) 787-3244 for the hearing impaired.