While not everyone is a potential abuser if they come from an abusive or highly dysfunctional family, there is a reason to consider their long-term behaviour versus their current ‘win-you-over’ behaviour.
Signals of an abusive person can be extremely subtle, such as:
- mini-bursts of anger
- frequent swearing
- disregard for other’s rights
- frequent negativity
- mind games
- hostility toward authority
- casting murder and/or abuse as “she deserved it.”
There are common indicators of potential physical abusers. Instead of negating what others tell you and your thoughts, you need to stop and look at your partner’s actions.
Here are a number of questions you should answer about your partner and your relationship:
- Are you discouraged or coerced about talking with family, friends or co-workers?
- Is he jealous of your time, your career, other people in your life?
- Does your partner insist on going everywhere with you?
- Do you have to discuss activity plans, people you will be with, and why you are going to do something with him/her before you can do them?
- Does he play mind games?
- Is he jealous of your success?
- Does he act negatively to authority figures?
- Does he believe that the man makes the decisions?
- Does he call you names?
- Does he belittle or talk down to you?
- Does he blame you if something goes wrong?
- Does he negate your opinion, feelings, ideas, etc.?
- Does he get violent when he drinks alcohol?
- Does he come from an abusive or highly dysfunctional home?
- Does he use shame and/or guilt to control a situation or get his way?
- Does he lose his temper and throw things, hit objects or abuse animals?
- Does he downplay any act of aggression as a minor incident?
- Does he characterize domestic violence as an exaggeration or a myth?
These indicators are more than indicators – they are varying degrees of emotional abuse and a precursor to possible physical abuse.
Those who are in an abusive relationship seldom consider they are a part of the equation. In other words, it takes two people to create domestic violence.
How do you fit the equation? Answer the following questions:
- Do you have low self-esteem? People who abuse others seek out people who they deem are easy to control, manipulate and create power-over. Low self-esteem sets the stage.
- Did you come from an abusive or highly dysfunctional home? Growing up in an abusive and/or dysfunctional home fosters the imprint that the highs and lows of abuse are equated to love – after all the people [your parents], who claimed to love you the most, emotionally and physically hurt you. And although you didn’t like it; you then seek out someone who will give you the same ‘kind of love’ – the kind that hurts – because it feels so good between the hurting.
- Do you believe in traditional, stereotypical relationship roles?
- Do you accept responsibility for disagreements or arguments – other than your own behaviour?
- Do you accept responsibility for his/her behaviour to keep the peace?
- Do you walk around on eggshells to keep the peace?
- Do you accept the myths about domestic violence?
- Do you tell yourself “I can handle it, it’s not that bad.”
- Do you feel guilty if he becomes enraged or jealous?
- Do you allow yourself to be controlled because you believe the person would not do it if they didn’t love you?
- Do you believe jealousy is proof of love?
- Do you believe some abuse is par for the course in an intimate relationship?
These indicators are emotional, but keep in mind that emotional abuse precedes physical abuse without fail.
The emotional abuse is simply a warning sign and if you heed the warning sign(s) you can protect yourself by avoiding being in the relationship.
If you are already in the relationship, because you missed the warning signs (there are warning signs without fail), you will be able to heed them and get out before they escalate to physical abuse.
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions, you are in a relationship that could progress to physical abuse unless there is immediate and effective professional intervention. You both need to seek separate professional guidance.
Accepting that you play a part in the abuse equation and take responsibility for your part is the first step to reconciliation – either resolving the issues or parting company.
Likewise, the other person needs to recognize that their behaviour is not acceptable and you need to accept you will enable him to continue to abuse you if you continue to stay in the relationship as is.
© Copyright Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD. All rights reserved.
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