Dangerous Men, Abusive Relationships; Abusive Men, Dangerous Relationships
An abusive relationship is when one person in a relationship (more frequently the man) uses violence - be it physical, mental, emotional, sexual, or otherwise - to control and dominate the other person in the relationship (more frequently the woman). In most cases of abuse, the violence encompasses several of these types. Recovering from the physical pain of being slapped, for example, may come faster and far easier than recovering from the emotional pain of the same act. And yet many women would sooner endure the pain of the abusive relationship than face the reality of their situation.
The problem with that--if it isn't obvious--is that staying in an abusive relationship crushes the victim's self-esteem and it compromises her ability to ever fully trust herself or anyone else again. Being the victim of abuse feels degrading, humiliating, and alienating. It breeds a sense of powerlessness, helplessness, and ultimately can cause depression. And it makes the victim, rather than the abuser, walk around feeling guilty and ashamed.
How to spot an abusive man before you get yourself in an abusive relationship
It can be difficult to recognize an abusive man off the cuff. By all appearances he could be your Knight in Shining Armor. He could be dashing, charismatic, romantic, and successful. He could sweep you off your feet--and probably will, if you let him. The problems, for the most part, will only begin to show after he's "got you"--or believes he does.
To keep it from getting that far, you have to be keen for cues that all may not be as rosy as it appears. If it is all rosy, it's not going anywhere. No harm can come from taking your time to read all the signs. Here are some of those signs that can clue you in to the fact that you may not be heading down such a happy road after all:
How to tell if you are in an abusive relationship
- his family background - If his family is dysfunctional there's a good chance that he bears scars from his childhood. While this is not a sure-fire sign of an abusive man, in combination with other cues it could tell you a lot. The past of an abusive man is often rife with abandonment, controlling and/or neglectful parents, and divorce. His mortal terror of his relationship with you heading down the same track as his parents will make him do almost anything to keep that from happening--including using force.
- his behavior - Has he already displayed any behaviors that threw you off guard? Has he accused you of infidelity (even before any committed relationship between you exists)? Is he moody? Does he pout or throw tantrums? Does he play head games with you? Do you feel like you're always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Do other people? Do the people in his life always seem to be walking on eggshells whenever he's around? Does he badmouth his friends behind their backs? How about to their faces? Or worse, does he badmouth your friends? All of these should trigger your radar that further investigation is required before you go making any romantic commitment to the man.
- his ulterior motives - Do you feel like he's using you--for a place to stay, for money, for sex, for his ego?
- his pets - Is he abusive towards his pets? That's a huge red flag right there.
If your partner or household member does any of the following to you, you may be in an abusive relationship:
A person can only make excuses for another's abusive behavior for so long. One's mind and body can only take so much. You can rationalize his behavior all you want, but you can't rationalize away the hurt his behavior makes you feel inside. You can deny that it's abuse all you want, but you can't deny the bruises and the emotional scars.
- intimidate, isolate, reject, emotionally manipulate, threaten, invoke "male privilege";
- push, shove, grab, hit, slap, trip, punch, beat, kick, choke, bite, pull your hair, throw you down, hold you down, twist your arms, brandish a weapon;
- abuse sexually, abuse alcohol/drugs in your presence, deprive you financially, use the children against you;
What to do if you think you are in an abusive relationship
Help is available but it requires you to seek it out. If you think you may be a victim of abuse, seek out the local resources for victims of domestic violence in your area and talk to someone who can help you find out. If you know that you are in an abusive relationship, then get out of it as soon as you can, in any way that you can. The longer you accept an unacceptable fate, the harder it will be to break free and to heal from the damage done.
About our WomanSavers.com feature writer: Growing up, Josh always felt anxious about dealing with women. At 23 he was still a virgin and never had a girlfriend. That is when he decided something had to change. After devoting himself for 5 years to learning everything he could about relationships - Josh is now the man his buddies come to for dating advice. 300 books or so later, and countless conversations with women, he now publishes Free Dating Advice on the web to help others who are looking for love.
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