Abuse is when one person (the abuser) tries to control another person (the victim). This control is generated to bolster the abuser's self-esteem, or simply so the abuser can get his/her way. Abusers love control and will use very sophisticated methods to gain and maintain this control. It proves to themselves that they are not as weak as they secretly believe themselves to be. Often the victim doesn't realize or want to acknowledge what is happening.
What kind of people are Abusers?
Abusers can be men or women. They can be spouses, parents, siblings, significant others, bosses, in-laws or "friends." They can abuse men, women, children, animals or all. Abusive individuals are good performers. They usually "win," because they are very skilled at lying and manipulating other people. In public, they are very urbane and often the picture of social and professional achievement. They think other people are weak, and lower than they are. They were badly hurt early in their lives, and they actually believe themselves to be weak.
Abusive people are self-centered, self-absorbed and are incapable of loving other people. They don't want to recognize their problems so they cannot see themselves clearly -- they ignore other people, and the "cruel, abandoning world" - and then they try to attack or destroy other people in "revenge"! Abusive people can't meet their own emotional needs, so they force and control other people to try to meet their needs. Statistics show that abusive people do not love their victim, they love controlling their victim. (Although they may truly believe they are a loving partner and will often profess to love their partner in a convincing manner.)
Studies indicate abusive people use very sophisticated "brainwashing" techniques. These techniques have been compared with those taught to special war-time interrogators. Ironically, abusers don't need to be taught. They use these techniques to cause the victim to doubt their own intelligence, their own reactions to unacceptable behavior, and to convince them they have no outlet, no resources, no friends, no where to turn, and that no one would believe them, anyway.
Abuse is generational. Abusers have unerring radar for partners who are needy and subconsciously need to "fix" things for someone. Partners who feel they are the one who can bring happiness to the abuser's life if only they are prettier/smarter/quieter/sexier/thinner/had blonde hair/bigger breasts/were a better cook/could read the abuser's mind/etc. Ironically, although the victim devotes her life to being what the abuser wants (usually so the abuse doesn't resume), what the victim actually is will never, ever be good enough for an abuser. An abuser MUST find fault to make himself feel more powerful. Victims are caring people who put superhuman efforts into making relationships work, which actually translates into being xxxxxx so as not to "make him mad." Sadly, it remains a futile, often dangerous belief. The cycle continues.
How do you know if
you are or someone you know is
in a relationship with an Abuser?
If your friend, housemate, parent, date, partner, sibling, boss, or any other person is doing these things to you, then you are a victim, and the other person is an abuser:
In the beginning he might:
• Push for quick, intense involvement: Come on very strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone."
• Pressure you for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
• Admit hitting women in the past, but says they made him do it or the situation brought it on.
• Claim no one understands him like you do; that you have something special no one else could ever understand.
• "Honeymoon" you, being the the man you've always dreamed of.
• Claim he's jealous because you're too good for him and he's afraid he'll lose you.
He is disrespectful of you when he:
• Ignores your feelings
• Is disrespect of you
• Teases or insults you, then tells you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humor
• Teases or insults your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class?
• Does not give you approval, appreciation or affection
• Gives you the silent treatment (walks away without answering you)
• Criticizes you, calls you names, yells at you
• Tells you that you am not worth having as a mate, yet will not consider breaking it off.
He initiates control and begins to attack your self-esteem by:
• Becoming upset if dinner, housework, or laundry is not done exactly the way he thinks it should be -- that day.
• Overreacting to little things like the toilet paper is going the wrong way, retaliating by doing or saying something hurtful.
• Treating you like a personal servant
• Humiliating you privately or in public (often telling you later not to be so sensitive or learn to take a joke)
• Saying bad things about you to friends, family or coworkers.
• Rolling his or her eyes upward when you talk, like you are not worth his attention
• Criticizing your body parts, for example, telling you are ugly, or fat, or unattractive.
• Insisting you dress in a more sexual way than you want to, or that you wear clothes that make you look ugly so no one will look at me.
He uses isolation to bind you closer to him by:
• Giving you a hard time about socializing with your friends or family members
• Insisting you not socialize without him
• Forcing you socialize with his friends (and keep up appearances) even when you don't feel well
• Insisting your friends are disloyal, boring, "against" him, or stupid
• Being rude, obnoxious, condescending or silent around your friends and family, embarrassing you into declining social invitations because of his behavior
• Making you feel you've lost all your friends and family, that they will not speak to you.
• Your family and friends are concerned about your safety, yet you find yourself defending actions you know are wrong.
He invalidates your feelings, causing you to doubt yourself by:
• Seeming to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won't get
• Telling you that you are too sensitive or need to "grow up"
• Hurting you, especially when you are depressed
• Becoming more energized by fighting and arguing, while fighting and arguing makes you more and more exhausted
• Demonstrating unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason
• Presenting a wonderful "face" to the world and is well liked by outsiders
• "Twisting" your words, somehow turning what you said against you
Blame & responsiblity. Does he:
• Say things to make you feel good when you're angry, yet blame you for WHY you're angry?
• Blame you when he mistreats you, saying, "You provoked it!"
• *Blame you for everything that goes wrong, including his mistakes most of which are preposterous things?
• Explain his abusive actions by blaming his violence or his temper on stress at work, or external factors?
• Abuse authority by always claiming to be right?
• Become infuriated at the suggestion that he might be wrong?
• Complain about how badly you treat him?
• Make you believe you are responsible for making this relationship work?
• Will make statements such as "You took vows and you need to uphold them" if you suggest separation or divorce?
Manipulation & control escalates. You find he:
• Says things that make you feel good, but does things that make you feel bad;
• Leaves you stranded, or helpless, or has abandoned you in dangerous places;
• Takes your car keys or prevents you from using the car, perhaps even selling the 2nd car so you don't have transportation;
• Goes through your purse, email, checkbook and personal things;
• Monitors your phone calls, or mail, or the odometer mileage;
• Insists you carry a cell phone or pager so he can always reach you, then checks your calls;
• Manipulates you with contradictions and lies about trivial things;
• Acts immature and selfish, but accuses you of being immature and selfish;
• Breaks promises, does not follow through on agreements;
• Questions everything you do, why you do things, and doubts your abilities to do things;
• Interrupts you, changes the topic, and does not listen to you.
Employment & financial dependency. Does he give you mixed signals when he:
• Prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone"?
• Insists you are at your desk to receive his phone calls?
• Insists you take your lunch with him, or at your desk so he can call you to check on your whereabouts?
• Refuses to give you money or takes your paycheck?
• Doles out household expenses, checks every penny spent and complains that you're ruining him?
• Does not let you know your income, properties you own, or money problems?
• Interferes with your work or will not let you work?
• Has gotten you leave or fired from a job because of absenteeism or his behavior at your workplace?
• His acts of irresponsibility threaten your credit?
• Buys things in your name and not his?
• Insists you are incapable of logical thinking and decision making?
• Uses pressure tactics to rush you into making decisions through guilt-tripping and other forms of intimidation?
• When you ask him questions about things that are legitimately your business ... you get no answers or the run-around?
• Says you really cannot manage without him or take care of yourself?
• Says all your problems are because you are worthless, and can't do anything right?
• Convinces you or agrees to have children, "lets" you quit your job to stay home with them, then blames you for financial difficulties?
Attacks the family:
• Threatens to take your children away from you.
• Distorts a past situation, threatening to use it against you with the Welfare System or Family Services.
• Threatens to hurt you, your children, your pets or your family.
• Punishes, brutalizes, or deprives the children or pets when he is angry with you.
• Displays jealousy when you pay attention to an infant or child.
• May expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children and kill animals.
• He demands that you "obey" him because he is the male.
• "Blame" you for the "burden" of children, even though he might have talked you into having the child/children.
• Seems to make more trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other.
• Compliments you enough to keep you happy, yet criticizes you enough to keep you insecure.
Attacking your state of mind:
• Tells you you're imagining things.
• Tells you abuse, arguments or behavior are figments of your imagination.
• Threatens to put you in a mental hospital, or insists that you are unstable or crazy.
• Deprives you of sleep by keeping you up with tirades and other verbal abuse.
• Harasses you about imagined affairs with other people.
• He publicly shows interest in other women, often discussing his sexual interest, sometimes even approaching them.
• Tells you about his affairs in order to destroy your emotional well-being. (Yes, cyber sex is an affair.)
• Makes you angrier and angrier, until you feel rage, and then blames you for your anger, and says is "proof" that you are wrong.
• Tries to convince you he is "right," while you are always "wrong".
• Often says things, and then denies he or she said it, or accuses you of misunderstanding what was said.
• He sounds so logical, you find yourself doubting yourself.
Does he succeed in instilling futility by:
• Making you feel like you can't win so why bother?
• Making you feel like you can't do anything about the abuse, no matter what you try to do?
• Telling you that you are crazy and has you wondering if he's right?
• Telling you no one would ever believe you if you reported the abuse?
• Laughing when you cry out of frustration and hurt?
Sex & physical intimidation or abuse (assault). Does he:
• Destroy furniture, punches holes in walls, breaks appliances or things you care about?
• Have hurtful sex and tell you that "you know you like it that way"?
• Find the idea of rape exciting.
• Pressure you for sex or rape you? Forced sex is rape, and yes, rape can occur within a marriage.
• Refuse to let you use contraception and will not himself?
• Expose you to venereal disease, STDs, or AIDS?
• Force you into prostitution, sex with "friends" in front of him, or strip dancing?
• Force you to look at pornography or be apart of it when you did not want to?
• Treat you like a sex object, or as though you must provide sex "on demand,"no matter how you feel?
• Withhold sex as "punishment" or to make you feel asexual, or tells you what a lousy lover you are?
• Compare your sexual relationship with that of his affairs?
Extreme danger signs:
• Uses drugs and/or alcohol, and those things make the abuse even worse.
• Pressures you or your children to take drugs or alcohol.
• Threatens to leave or throw you out.
• Has threatened to commit suicide.
• Uses your immigration status against you, causing you to fear deportation.
• Drives with anger at other drivers, with road-rage, often with you and/or children in the car.
• Makes you afraid by looks, actions or gestures.
• Hits or pushes you, even "accidentally".
• Restrained you so you could not move.
• Thrown objects or food at you.
• Displays weapon, shows weapons or martial arts skills to make you feel afraid.
• Has shoved, pushed, hit, slapped, punched (you or doors and walls), bitten, choked or suffocated, kicked, tripped, punched, pinched, squeezed, shaken, cut or stabbed, broken or loosened teeth, hit you with an object, or ripped your clothing off.
• Claims you belong to him, that he can't live without you, and no one else can ever have you.
• Threatened your family if you leave him.
• Threatens to kill you or have others kill you.
After an argument, your partner will feel the need to reassert control. He will do anything and everything to manipulate the situation to get you back to his comfort zone. This involves telling you absolutely everything and anything he knows you want to hear. He won't mean it and it doesn't matter what it is. If it will lull you back into believing in the "potential man," he'll do it .... for awhile. After an argument, does he:
• Promises to never do something hurtful again, ever?
• Promise to attend counseling (but make you locate the counselor?)
• Agree or try to talk you into having the child he knows you've always wanted?
• Tell you everything will be OK if you'd just forget about what happened?
• Tell you he just loves you so much he can't help himself?
• Bring you flowers, chocolate, buy you things he knows you'd like, and reveal the romantic man he was while you were dating?
• He will make statements such as "You can't leave me and break up our family like this! The children deserve a father."
• Suddenly become the man you know he could be, saying and doing all the right things? Anything he knows YOU want to see or hear?
How do I know if my relationship with an abusive person is critical?
Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:
• You are constantly "walking on eggshells"
• You express your opinions less and less freely.
• You live in fear of you or one of your children "making him mad."
• You find yourself always being careful of when and how to say something.
• You keep waiting for that softer, more vulnerable and sensitive part of the other person to come out, but it only does after an abusive episode.
• You find yourself making excuses for the abuser's behavior.
• You lie to cover up bruises, fights, and trouble he's told you is your fault.
• You feel emotionally unsafe.
• You feel its not safe to talk to other people about what the abuser is doing to you.
• You hope things will change...especially through your love and understanding.
• You find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality.
• You doubt your own judgment.
• You doubt your abilities.
• You feel vulnerable and insecure.
• You are becoming increasingly depressed and or physically sick.
• You feel increasingly trapped, isolated, and powerless.
• You have been, and/or you are now afraid of the abuser.
• The abuser has physically hurt you, even one time.
• You fear he will track you down and kill you or someone you love if you leave.