Do you feel fearful or threatened by your partner? Have you changed your life so you won't anger him? Do you feel like you're walking on eggshells? Do you apologize to others for his behavior? Do you feel sorry for him and want to rescue him, take care of him, or try to change him? Are you compliant because you are afraid to hurt his feelings? Are you afraid to break up with him because of what he might do to you, himself or someone else?
Below are a list of behaviors that are seen in people who are abusive. The last five signs losted are almost always seen only if the person is a batterer; if the person has several of the other behaviors (say three or more), there is a strong potential for physical violence. The more signs the person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. In some cases, a batterer may have only a couple of behaviors that the woman can recognize, but they are very exaggerated (e.g., extreme jealousy over ridiculous things.) Initially, the batterer will try to explain his/her behavior as signs of love and concern, and a woman may be flattered at first. As time goes on, the behaviors become more severe and serve to dominate the woman. These signs may also be present in women's lesbian relationships.
1. Boundaries. Violates your personal space. Intimidates you by getting too close. Touches, pinches grabs you against your will.
2. Quick Involvement. Sweeps you off you feet. Love at first sight. ?You're the only one for me.? Desperately pressures you for a commitment so you are engaged or living together in less than 6 months.
3. Controlling Behavior. Controls where you go, what you do, with whom and for how long. Controls money and money decisions; won't allow you to share expenses or refuses to work and won't share expenses. Protective to the point of controlling. Says he is angry when you are ?late? because he ?cares?. Takes your car keys; won't let you go to church, work, or school.
4. Jealousy. Angry about your relationship with other men, women, even children and family. This insecurity and possessiveness causes him to accuse you of flirting or having affairs, to call frequently or drop by to check up on you; even check your car mileage or have you followed.
5. Abusive Family of Origin . Was physically, sexually or emotionally abused as a child or witnessed spouse abuse. He sees violence as normal behavior, a natural part of family life.
6. Low Self-Esteem. Guards his fragile sense of self by aacting tough and macho. Imagines you threaten hi manhood. Damages your self-esteem, demeans your growth, demands your silence.
7. Alcohol/Drug Abuse. Abuses alcohol/drugs; tries to get you drunk; berates you if you won't get high. He may deny his drug problem and refuse to get help. Don't think you can change him or that alcohol/drug abuse causes violent behavior. They are two separate problems.
8. Difficulty Expressing Emotions . Unable to identify feelings and express them directly and appropriately. He may say he's ?hurt? and sulk when he is really angry. He displaces anger at his boss or himself onto you.
9. Blames Others for His Feelings or Problems . Believes others are out to get him and he's the victim. Blames you for everything that goes wrong. Will say ?You make me mad,? ?You make me happy,? ?I can't help getting angry? to manipulate you. Holds you responsible for his suicidal or self-abusive behavior.
10. Hypersensitivity . Quick temper; unable to handle frustration without getting angry; easily insulted. Will ?rant and rave? about minor things like traffic tickets or requests to do chores.
11. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . Seem like two different people with mood swings from nice to explisove. May change his behavior around the guys. May be very sociable around others and only abusive with you.
12. Unrealistic Expectations. Very dependent on you for all his physica and emotional needs (? You are all I need.?) Expects you to live up to his ideals of a perfect partner, mother, lover, friend.
13. Rigid Sex Roles . Expects a woman to stay at home, serve and obey him. Gets angry if you don't fulfill his wishes and anticipate his needs. Speaks for you. He thinks it's OK for men to keep women ?in line? by force or intimidation-?the Ralph Cramden Syndrome.?
14. Rigid Religious Beliefs. Justifies rigid sex roles and the physical/emotional/sexual domination of women and children with strict or distorted interpretations of scripture.
15. Disrespect for Women in General . Ridicules and insults women; sees women as stupid and inferior to men; tells sexist jokes (?dumb bronde,? ?PMS?jokes); refers to women in derogatory or non-human terms (?babe?, ?chick,? ?fox,? ?bitch?) or as specific parts of anatomy; de-values women's accomplishments and work, acts like women are second-class citizens.
16. Emotional Abuse. He may ignore your feelings, continually criticize you and call you names like ?far, ugly, stupid? curse and yell at you, belittle your accomplishments, manipulate you with lies, contradictions, and crazy-making tactics, humiliate you in private or public, regularly threaten to leave or tell you to leave, keep you awake you up to argue or verbally abuse you.
17. Isolation. An acquaintance rapist will try to separate you from others to a secluded spot. Batterer will try to keep you from working or attending school, move you to a rural area, restrict your use of the phone or car. He'll try to cut you off from the men, women, family and children by saying ?You're a whore,? ?You're a lesbian,? ?You're tied to your parent's apron strings? or ?You're spoiling the kids.?
18. Reliance or Pornography. Rapists, child molesters and men who sexually abuse or rape their wives often have an abundance of pornographic literature, photorgraphs, magazines or videos. They may want to involve you in their interests by photographing you or taking you to pornographic movies or shops.
19. Sexual Abuse. Refuses platonic relationships if dating; uses ?playful? force sex; use sulking or anger to manipulate you into having sex; coerces or forces you to have sex or hurts your during sex; demands sex when you are scared, ill, tired or starts having sex when you are asleep, drunk, or unable to give consent.
20. Cruelty to Animals, Children or Others. Teases, bullies, abuses or harshly punishes animals, children, elderly, weaker people or other women. Is insensitive to other's pain. Tortures or kills pets to feel powerful or hurt you. Threatens to kidnap the children if you leave. Punishes or deprives the children when angry at you. Punishes the children for behavior they're incapable of (whipping a 2 year-old for wet diapers). (Sixty percent of men who beat their partners also beat their children.)
21. Past Violence. ANY history of violence with anyone to ?solve? problems. Justifies hitting or abusing women in the past, but ?they made me do it.? Friends, relatives or ex- partners say he's abusive. (Batterers beat any women they're with. You didn't cause it and you can't control it or cure it.)
22. Fascination with Weapons. Plays with guns, knives, or other lethal weapons, threatening to ?get even? with you or others.
23. Threats of Violence. Any threats of physical force to control you or make you do something should be taken seriously. He may threaten to hurt you or your family. Non-batterers do not say things like ?I'll kill you? or ?I'll break your neck.?
24. Breaking or Striking Objects. Punishes you by breaking loved objects, terrorizes you into submission. (If he doesn't want you to be a student, he may destroy schoolbooks or break lamps.) Non-batterers do not beat on tables, punch holes in walls, destroy furniture, and throw objects at you to threaten you. The message is ?You're next! You're just an object I can control and I can break you like our china.?
25. Any Force During an Argument. Hurts you in anger or in ?play?, pushing, shoving, pulling, grabbing you by the collar, holding you down, restraining you from leaving the room, slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, or burning. This cycle of violence is followed by a ?honeymoon? period, then an escalation of tension and more violence. The episodes of violence will get more frequent, more intense, and will not stop on their own.