Warning Signs of Abusive or Potentially Abusive Relationships
(Note on pronouns: Abusers and victims can be of either gender but the majority of cases involve men abusing women.)
He is controlling and abusive. . .
· She is restricted in communicating with others; her use of phone, mail, or e-mail is monitored.
· She is forbidden to see friends or family, or limited in her contact with them.
· He is intensely jealous of her interactions with other men.
· He invades her privacy - her home, her room, her diary, her mail, her e-mail, her possessions.
· He grills her about what she did at work or at school.
· He controls finances and decision-making.
· He refuses to accept her termination of the relationship.
He seems to be two different people. . .
· He has a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, often showing a charming, charismatic side to others.
· He seems deeply penitent, sorrowful, and loving after an emotionally or physically violent episode.
He is desperate or extreme about her. . .
· He may push for commitments too early in the relationship.
· He threatens to kill her or himself if she leaves him.
· He says he cannot live without her or she cannot live without him.
· He seems obsessed with having her for himself.
He is verbally abusive. . .
· He puts her down, privately or publicly.
· He plays on her guilt or past love for him.
· He makes her question her sanity or accuses her of being crazy.
· He insults her intelligence, her body, or her looks.
He speaks disparagingly of women. . .
· He denigrates her friends.
· He talks about the inferiority of women or the need to keep women in line or for men to be "on top."
He is violent. . .
· He loses his temper easily over small things; his anger seems frightening or out of proportion.
· He grabs her, twists her arm, pushes her, pulls her into the car; otherwise uses physical force.
· He is violent to her pets or cruel to animals in general.
· He was physically violent to a former partner.
· He throws things, kicks things, breaks things.
· He demands sex; he forces her or persistently urges her to perform sex acts without her consent.
He disowns responsibility. . .
· He denies being verbally or physically abusive.
· He blames her or someone else for the abuse. She "made him do it" or 'drove him to it."
· He excuses the abuse on grounds of his great love for her.
She shows signs of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. . .
· She excuses his actions toward herself or others. Thus, she cannot name what is happening to her.
· She speaks of the inferiority of women or of their responsibility to keep relationships or homes intact.
· She accepts responsibility for his abuse, verbal and physical.
· She wants to end the relationship but fears what it will do to him or that he will retaliate.
· She has recurring, non-specific aches, pains, or ailments, which can signify stress.
· Her self-esteem suffers. She speaks poorly of herself, especially in relation to him.
· She makes significant lifestyle changes to benefit or appease him.
· She has bruises or seems physically hurt.
From the Domestic Violence Workshop held at Kalamazoo College on October 27, 1999, eight days after Maggie was killed on that campus by her ex-boyfriend who then killed himself. For more about Maggie's story, visit http://homestead.com/octagonoctagon/rememberingmaggie.html