You are in an abusive relationship with your intimate partner if he gains and maintains control over you. His pattern of behaviors can include emotional, economical, psychological and physical abuse, and ebb and flow in what is known as the Cycle of Violence. In other words, if it happens once, it will happen again.
As with battered women, batterers can be from any social, economic, ethnic, professional, educational or religious group. They don't have criminal records, and are never violent or abusive to anyone other than their partner. He is a Jekyll and Hyde - he appears to be a perfect, loving partner and provider and an upstanding citizen. At home, he becomes manipulative, unpredictable, possessive, jealous, unrealistic, and controlling.
But that's not all. He may abuse in many ways, including:
Physical Abuse: Punching, shoving, slapping, biting, kicking, using a weapon against partner, throwing items, breaking items, pulling hair, restraining partner.
Emotional/Verbal Abuse: Putting partner down, calling names, criticizing, playing mind games, humiliating partner, making partner feel guilty.
Financial Dependency: Keeping partner from getting a job, getting partner fired from job, making partner ask for money or taking one's money, expecting partner to support them.
Social Isolation: Controlling who partner sees and talks to and where one goes, constantly checking up on partner (calling or following).
Sexual Abuse: Forcing partner to perform sexual acts which are uncomfortable to them, engaging in affairs, telling partner they asked for the abuse, telling partner what to wear, accusing partner of affairs, criticizing sexual performance, withholding affection.
Minimizing/Denying: Making light of abuse, saying abuse did not happen, saying the abuse was mutual, blaming partner for abuse.
Coercion/Threats/Intimidation: Making partner afraid by looks or gestures, destroying property, hurting pets, displaying weapons, threatening to leave, take children, or commit suicide.
Last year, 30 women died at the hands of their abusive partner in Arkansas. In my little county alone 120 to 140 used the battered women's shelter to escape their abusive relationships. What is it like in your state and in your immediate area? Help raise awareness of domestic violence and reach out to help.
If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline site, or call 800-799-SAFE (7233).
There is help, and hope. It's not your fault, and no, you don't deserve it.