Profile of an Abusive
At the same time this person may appear cocky and boastful on occasion.
Trouble trusting others, particularly you.
In spite of this, they may say that they know you would never be unfaithful.
Jealous and possessive.
Initially, the abuser may say others were coming on to you. Eventually,
thought, you will be accused of being attracted to other people, flirting, or
Sometimes this can be subtle. You may be changing your behavior without
realizing why. For example, you may "decide" not to see your friends too often
because you don't want your partner to get mad.
Usually comes from a family where there was violence, although they may deny
This abusive relationship is intense and passionate. There is usually a Romeo
and Juliet quality, which may be noticed by your friends. This intensity does
NOT mean you are fated lovers. It means someone is holding to too tightly.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality.
The abuser can be loving and supportive one minute and cold and hostile,
accusing or distant, the next.
Mood swings or explosive temper.
You think everything is going fine, and suddenly your partner is furious.
Macho or super masculine.
This is sometimes present in male abusers. This boyfriend will have strong
opinions about how a man and woman should behave.
may find yourself saying, "Well yes, this happened, but there are reasons why
it happened." The abusive partner will not accept reasons or explanations.
Everything is black or white.
These partners may want to isolate you from your friends or family. They may
always want to be alone with you. Often they will start trouble between you
and your best friend. They will be threatened by any relationships you have
with members of the opposite sex and may attempt to destroy those friendships
by criticizing your friends or pointing out ways in which they, your friends,
have wronged you.
Emotionally and verbally abusive.
Sometimes there is no physical abuse until a commitment is made, i.e., you go
steady, have sex, get pregnant, or cut off your friends and family. It could
also be as simple as your agreement not to date others. You don't have to have
bruises to be in an abusive relationship.
This partner will attempt to minimize the violence or behavior by saying:
"I barely touched you."
"I was just messing around."
"You can't take a joke."
Abusive partners will blame others for their mistakes or problems. Again, it
may be subtle. They will blame others for fights if they can saying any of the
"You make me crazy."
"You know what makes me mad and you do it anyway so it's your fault."
"If you weren't so beautiful, I wouldn't be so worried about losing you."
"Your friends are trying to break us up."
"That person was coming on to you."
When you have a fight, they may try to blame outside stressors saying the
"My parents are making me crazy!"
"My teachers are making me crazy!"
"I feel like I'm under so much pressure."
"You don't understand me. Nobody does."
These are pressures and feelings with which we all must cope. They are not an
excuse to be violent or abusive.
Alcohol or drug user.
This partner may abuse alcohol or drugs. If so, he or she has a
built-in excuse. Remember that many people abuse alcohol and drugs and never
become violent or abusive. If you are dating a substance abuser who is violent
that person has two problems that need to be addressed, the substance abuse
and the abuse. Look for statements like the following:
"I was totally wasted."
"I don't even remember this. Did I really do that?"
"I'll quit drinking."
"I'll quit drinking tequila, shots, whiskey, beer, whatever."
"I'll never do drugs again."
"I'm such a jerk! Why do you stay with me?"
They may also say things like:
"Hey, you pushed me first."
"What do you expect when you talk back to me?"
"You were just as violent as me."
"You started it, flirting with that other person."
This can get confusing for you. Don't let it. When you are in an abusive or
dysfunctional relationship you may begin to act in ways you normally would not.
That doesn't make it your fault. You have the right to talk to other people. You
have the right to be angry in an argument and state your side without someone
accusing you of "talking back."
your partner call you names?
your partner say things that will hurt you, and then act angry if you get
your partner tell you things your friends or family have said about you?
you describe him or her as more jealous or possessive than most people?
your partner get mad if you have a good time without him or her?
your partner talk about breaking up when you do something he or she doesn't
he or she sometimes mimic you or ignore you when you're talking?
your partner have sudden mood swings?
Abusive Behavior Low Risk
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions your partner
may be emotionally abusive. Most abusive relationship begins with
emotional abuse and escalates to physical abuse. If you don't feel you can break
up, set some guidelines or boundaries and see how they react. Call them on the
emotional abuse. For example, tell them you will not tolerate name calling.
Then, the next time they call you a name, walk away. Let them know they owe you
an apology. Remember, if they restrain you when you try to walk away, they are
being physically abuse. Tell them so. If they threaten to break up with you
because you demand respect, let them. It may be difficult to do, but if you do
not set limits now, their behavior will get worse.
your partner say they trust you but still accuse you of flirting or fooling
your partner check up on you? Does he or she surprise you by showing up
somewhere you have said you will be?
your partner track your time? For example, does he or she ask where you were
for an hour if it only takes twenty minutes to get home from somewhere?
your partner isolate you from your friends? Do they hate your best friend or
say that your best friend has talked about you? Does your partner get mad if
you have a good time without him or her?
your partner pushed, shoved, slapped, kicked, or punched you? Have they
grabbed you by the shoulders to "make you listen"?
you defend yourself, does your partner say you are "talking back"?
your partner say he or she would not get so jealous if they did not love you
so much? Do they say that you know what makes them mad and you do it anyway,
so it is really your fault?
- Do you
apologize to others for your partner's actions? "They didn't mean it. You
don't know them. They were just upset."
Abusive Behavior Medium
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in an
It is not normal for someone to feel the need to check up on
you. A classic sign of an abuser is dislike of the people closest to you.
Typically, an abuser will try to separate you from your best friends by pointing
out their faults. It starts with emotional abuse and moves to physical abuse.
After a fight, during which they are abusive, abusers may become apologetic and
contrite. They may be extremely loving and promise all kinds of things. At the
same time, they may subtly blame you for the violence by saying you are making
them jealous or that they love you so much they cannot help themselves.
If your partner is behaving like this, you need to get out. It
will only get worse. Chances are your self-esteem has already been affected and
you are beginning to feel badly about yourself. Being in an abusive relationship
is confusing. You are never really sure if it is your fault or theirs. You may
be thinking, "He or she has a point about some of their arguments." This may be
true. You are probably not perfect. Nobody is. But often an abuser will take the
truth and twist it so you do not know which way is up. You will find yourself
trying harder and harder to please them and being less and less able to. This
relationship could destroy you.
Red Alert Red Alert Red Alert
your partner become so jealous that you could describe him or her as paranoid?
- Do you
often find yourself trying to convince them that you did not do anything
they ever kept you somewhere against your will (car or house)?
they ever repeatedly commanded that you "tell the truth" even when you were
not lying? Does your partner say you are sneaky and do you feel sometimes that
you have to be sneaky to avoid fights or to see your friends?
they say they will die if you leave them or that they cannot live without you?
they ever talked about killing themselves?
they ever threatened to kill you?
they forced you to have sex when you did not want to?
- Do you
have to justify your actions, activities, and time with your friends?
- Do you
want to break up sometimes but feel afraid of what they might do? (hurt you,
harm your family, tell others personal things about you?)
Abusive Behavior High Risk
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you are in
danger. Run for you life! Your partner is extremely abusive and could seriously
hurt or even kill you. If your partner is behaving like this, it is no longer
safe to date him or her. It is time to get help and end the relationship. You
will never convince them that you are innocent of their accusations. Until you
break up, that is. Then they will say they realize that you are the best thing
that has ever happened to them and they are sorry. But that means nothing. As
soon as you go back, it will all start again.
Many abusers threaten to kill themselves when you try to break
up. Will they? Usually not, but your partner needs help and it must be
professional help. YOU CANNOT HELP THIS PERSON. You must tell someone you trust.
In cases of dating/domestic violence murder, the abuser often kills her and then
kills himself. That is why it is so risky when your partner is suicidal. The
most dangerous time for a female ending an abusive relationship is when she
tries to leave. Check out Safety Planning and Break-Up Plans in the back of the
novel, The Breakable Vow.
You need to show someone this risk assessment, your parents if
you are a teen, and then call the nearest domestic violence hotline. They can
advise you about protective orders and safety strategies. Do not minimize the
danger in this situation. It could cost you your life!
If you feel you are in danger, contact your local
dating/domestic violence shelter. To get the location of that organization you
can call the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-799-SAFE.
About Kathryn Ann Clarke
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One night will change her life . . . Annie McGowan is eighteen years old,...