Odilia Rivera Santos
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, LEAVE RIGHT NOW. READ THIS ARTICLE AT THE LIBRARY.
This article is about domestic violence inflicted on women by men; however, I understand women abuse men and there is also domestic violence in the gay/bisexual/transgender community as well.
There are wonderful people who inadvertently verbally abuse their lovers because they do not realize the impact of their words, so I hope this article helps people understand emotional abuse as well.
I am not an expert in domestic violence but I don't believe there is such a thing as an expert.
BEFORE HE HITS YOU, THERE ARE SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE DEALING WITH A BATTERER
You meet a man, you give him your phone number and you talk a couple of times. The first thing he wants to know is where you work and where you like to hang out. After talking to him, you discover he's not really your type, so you politely decline his invitation to go out. He begins to call you everyday and shows up at places you like. He says he won't give up on you because you are special and he continues to flatter and offers to go out as friends.
LOVE IS TOO SUDDEN
You begin dating a man and he says he loves you within a week and that he really thinks you have a future together. He becomes attached very quickly and you may find this flattering but this is a sign of obsessive behavior, not love.
COMPLIMENTS FOLLOWED BY CRITICISM
He compliments you and quickly follows up the compliment with some criticism. He wants to make sure he says enough sweet things to keep you listening so his criticism can have more of an impact. It is also his way of tearing down your self-esteem.
CRITICIZING YOUR MOST INDEPENDENT FEMALE FRIEND
He zeros in on your most independent female friend and begins criticizing her. He discourages you from being friends with her. He says she's a lesbian and is in love with you. He says she is probably promiscuous and he calls her a bitch. Every time this friend's name comes up, he has something nasty to say.
SHOWS UP AT YOUR HOME OR JOB UNANNOUNCED
He shows up at your house unannounced very early in the morning during the weekend. He will claim he wanted to surprise you and take you to breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but he is really just checking up to see if you came home the night before.
He shows up in front of your job unannounced at lunchtime to see if you are talking to another man.
CALLS EARLY IN THE MORNING AND LATE AT NIGHT
During the week, he calls you very early in the morning and very late at night because he wants to see if you are alone and can talk on the phone.
FINDS ACHILLES HEEL AND FINDS REASON TO SPEAK OF IT OFTEN
He finds out what you don't like about yourself -- something you consider very painful -- and he keeps mentioning it. When you tell him not to keep talking about this, he says he's just 'teasing' and you are too 'sensitive.'
DISLIKES YOUR FAMILY AND DISCOURAGES YOUR VISITING THEM EVEN IF YOU'RE GOING WITHOUT HIM
He criticizes every relative to whom you are close and he tries to make you believe the relative isn't really interested in your happiness.
TAKING CONTROL OF IMMIGRATION PROCESS
If you are in the process of dealing with immigration issues, he offers to handle the situation for you because he knows a lawyer or he will offer to marry you so you can expedite the process. And there is little to no progress in your case after he takes over and when you ask him about it, he accuses you of not loving him or not believing in him.
TAKING CONTROL OF FINANCES
He encourages you to quit a full-time job and take a part-time job or quit working altogether and be a stay-at-home mom even if you love your work and have a good caregiver for the child.
He insists on having joint bank accounts, which makes it possible for him to remove money any time he wants, so if you decide to leave him, he can empty the bank account. If there are two signers on an account, there is nothing to stop him from withdrawing all funds and leaving you with nothing.
DISCOURAGES YOU FROM GETTING AN EDUCATION
He says you are not very smart but discourages you from going back to college or from taking any classes, saying it takes time away from you as a couple. He is afraid you will meet someone you like better in a class and you will be more educated than he is. He is also afraid you will earn more money that he does.
If you are college-educated and intellectually curious, he says you think you know everything or that you're too smart for your own good.
COMPETES WITH YOU INSTEAD OF SEEING YOU AS A PARTNER
If you have good news, he will interrupt you to talk about himself.
If you return to your good news, he will say you think you're better or smarter than him.
He will make you feel ashamed of doing something well and teach you to downplay any of your accomplishments because he thinks if you gain enough confidence, you will leave him. If you do something well, he'll call you a 'showoff.' He is happy when you fail at something.
COMPETES WITH YOUR CHILDREN FOR YOUR LOVE
He is jealous of the love and attention you give your child even if the child is a product of your relationship with him. He demands your attention when you are doing something with the child as if he were a child himself. This is not normal behavior for an adult and shows he is a very emotionally immature man who requires constant proof of your love and you will never satisfy his need for attention.
Competes with others for your attention at social gatherings
He cannot stand to 'share' you with other people. He will monitor your behavior at social gatherings and offer a critique when you are alone -- criticism about your appearance, your interaction with other men, what you talked about, etc. He basically wants control over all your actions in private and public.
FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES
He reads every status update and if anything is mentioned about your going out with friends that night, he immediately calls to ask you out or to keep you on the phone long enough to make you miss the gathering. He may even openly discourage you from going out, citing the bad weather, etc. He also keeps tabs on any man who makes comments on your Facebook wall and he will ask you whether you have met the man in person. This also shows emotional immaturity and a need to control your actions. He is jealous of any interaction you have in person or online with a man even if the relationship is clearly a professional one.
YOUR PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
He is very involved in helping you choose what to wear and he wants to control how you look in public. He is very focused on the physical attribute he finds most attractive and wants you to hide this attribute in public as much as possible. He encourages you to dress in a sexy way only when in his company. This is meant to satisfy his ego and to prevent you from attracting other men when you are alone.
He is too attached to your physical appearance and being seen with you feeds his ego a little bit too much. This shows he has a very low self-esteem and needs to prove to others he is capable of dating a woman who is special but he worries he may not be good enough to hold on to her and this is where boundary issues come in.
LACK OF BOUNDARIES
He will ask you to go to the store and while you're gone, he will look through your computer, looking at pictures and reading emails. Every time your phone rings or you get a text message, he demands you tell him who it was. He looks through your address book to see if any men who write on your Facebook wall are listed.
He will look through your papers and business cards to see if there is anything linking you to another man.
He will talk about famous women he would like to have sex with but if you mention famous men you fantasize about, he will continually bring it up and it will be a sore spot for him. It will make him resentful and angry.
He will film you having sex with him without asking and then, he will say he erased the video but he is really keeping it to blackmail you should you leave him.
He shows his friends naked pictures of you, which shows a total lack of respect for you and that showing off for his friends is more important than respecting your privacy. His ego is more important than you. It also shows he is incapable of a mature intimate relationship with a woman. This is the kind of impulsive behavior one would expect of a fourteen-year-old boy.
YOU'RE MEAN TO ME. YOU DON'T LOVE ME. YOU DON'T LIKE ME.
He uses self-pity to keep you in the position of constantly proving your fealty and love for him. But remember, he is carrying emotional baggage from a childhood in which he felt abandoned and unloved. Perhaps, he had inattentive parents or no parents. He might actually believe he is not lovable or likable. Women do not want to be thought of as cold or lacking compassion; the batterer will use these self-pitying statements to make the woman think she is being unkind every time she says no to his demands. You will never make him feel good about himself because this is a process for him to work out on his own with a therapist, not you. You are not your boyfriend's psychologist, social worker, mother or father. You did not cause it and you cannot cure it.
YOUR BODY WHILE PREGNANT AND AFTER YOU HAVE CHILDREN
He will beg you to have children with him early into the relationship and then, as soon as you are pregnant, he will begin making comments about your weight gain. I don't have children, but I know women are very emotional and sensitive about their physical appearance during pregnancy. Negative comments about a woman's physical appearance during pregnancy make her feel very vulnerable and insecure. After the baby is born, he will compare your body to models' bodies or say you lost your looks, yet he will discourage you from going to the gym.
HIS INTERESTS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOURS
He wants to do everything with you. He does not want you to have a girls' night out or to even visit friends without him. He even wants you to accompany him to events only he cares about. The purpose is to diminish who you are and to have you meld with him and his interests.
VERBAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE
He will say every female friend is jealous of you and is flirting with him and he will do this because a close female friend will see you are in an unhealthy relationship before you do.
It is difficult to be objective about a relationship when you are in it, but a friend who observes your interactions with your lover/husband would have a more objective perspective.
He will say you are getting fat if you don't exercise, and if you exercise, he will say you are getting too muscular. He will say you care about other people or your job more than him.
He uses religion to assess the morality of your behavior, yet he does not apply those religious tenets to himself. He does all the things he accuses you of doing: flirting with the opposite sex, staying too involved with former lovers, talking about women who have made passes at him, etc.
He pushes you and apologizes. He slaps you and buys you flowers. He punches you and promises to never do it again. He rapes you and says he loves you.
A CULT OF TWO
The batterer will work hard to have psychological control over the woman he abuses.
He will do this by
separating her from her friends and family,
telling her about abuse he suffered as a child, so she pities him and feels she must be his caretaker.
monopolizing all of her time so she hardly spends a minute alone outside work.
telling her everything that happens between them is their business and they will resolve their problems as a couple without any outside intervention.
pretending he is the concerned caregiver and he is the person to whom she should turn every time she has a problem.
Your lover is not your psychologist nor should he replace your entire family and all of your friends. It becomes like a cult of two in which the abused is brainwashed into thinking their relationship is normal and she begins to accept the unacceptable.
It has been written in many books on the psychology of addicts that addicts tend to remain at the emotional age at which they began using drugs; for example, if they started using drugs at fourteen, they will display the emotional maturity of a fourteen-year-old. After working with addicts in recovery for many years, I believe this to be true. They are very codependent, fear failure and want to do everything with a partner; this is why addicts in and out of recovery can be so manipulative in a romantic relationship. They fear being left alone or 'abandoned.'
It requires a tremendous amount of therapy for a recovering addict to catch up emotionally to his chronological age. It can be done, but it is difficult.
The other major issue with addicts is lying; they may give up the drugs and get clean, but it takes intensive therapy to get them out of the habit of lying. You may have heard the expression addicts clean up well -- this is both literal and figurative. They work harder than anyone at appearing normal and will prepare an alibi like nobody's business. They know how to clean up their lies as if it were the space in which they use drugs.
If you are dating an active or recovering addict, you may want to go to Alanon meetings in order to receive support and to think clearly about whether yours is a healthy relationship. Remember, you are not a therapist in your relationship and you cannot monitor your lover's sobriety. Emotional abuse is not acceptable regardless of your partner's troubles. Being in recovery is not an excuse for abusive or controlling behavior toward a loved one.
What is an addict in recovery? An addict in recovery is a person who does not get high anymore. This means he/she does not change substances, saying they drink, but don't do heroin. It is very common for addicts to switch from one drug to another. I have seen addicts transfer their addiction from illegal drugs to powerful prescription pain killers. The results are still the same: deceitful, emotionally disconnected, mood swings, irrational expectations, control and anger issues.
As further proof of her fealty to him, he convinces her to never speak to her family about their problems, and if there are children involved, he will tell the children they will be taken out of the home and never see their parents again if they talk about the violence they've seen at home.
THIS IS WHY, UNFORTUNATELY, THE ABUSED WOMAN IS RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING HERSELF OUT.
NO ONE CAN HELP AN ABUSED WOMAN IF NO ONE KNOWS SHE IS BEING ABUSED.
SHE MUST MAKE THE PHONE CALLS.
SHE MUST TELL SOMEONE.
SHE MUST BREAK OUT OF HER BRAINWASHED STATE.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Call the police if you hear a loud argument or if you see a woman being beaten.
Call child protective services if there are children in the home; sometimes, the abused woman will leave the relationship only if they are at risk of losing custody of her children.
Recently, a woman was killed in a NYC hotel room and this was after a long loud fight heard by other hotel guests. No one called the police or even the front desk of the hotel to report anything.
ORDER OF PROTECTION
An order of protection is a piece of paper, so file it, but take it with a grain of salt. You can never enter the house you shared again or even return to any address he knows. You must change your children's school. Papers, pictures, furniture, clothes are irrelevant.
Leave and never return.
THE FINAL STEP
He will threaten to kill you if you cheat on him or leave him.
He might say this casually and even laugh while he says it, but this is not a joke.
Some women are even flattered when a man says this, mistaking a need to possess and control for love.
But he is warning you.
He is letting you know he is full of rage and has the potential for violence.
REGARDLESS OF WHICH SIDE YOU ARE NOW -- BATTERER OR ABUSED -- SEEK COUNSELING IMMEDIATELY.
IF YOU ARE A BATTERED INDIVIDUAL, LEAVE TODAY.