Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income or other factors. Domestic violence is a leading cause of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, emotional distress, homelessness, and chronic health conditions for the victim.
The goal of psychotherapy so to move victims of violence from crisis to confidence. Some survivors need help understanding the cost of staying in an abusive relationship since many are threatened if they leave. Psychotherapy is also beneficial after people leave abusive relationships, since survivors of domestic violence face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress. Therapy is based on the idea that it is always possible to heal and move forward.
If you are not sure if you are in a domestic violent relationship, use the following as a guideline to help you assess your situation. Although I will be using the pronoun “he” for the abuser and “she” for the victim, there is abuse among gay relationships.
Signs to look for in a battering personality
- Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that his jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love: it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. He will question the partner about who he/she talks to, accuse him/her of flirting, or be jealous of time spent with family, friends or children. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser may call frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may give the partner a hard time for being involved in activities or work for fear that he/ she will meet someone else. He may even do strange behaviors such aa asking friends to watch him/ her.
- Controlling Behavior: The batterer will say that this behavior is because he is concerned for the partners safety, his /her need to use time will, or due to a need to assist him/her to make good decisions. He will be angry if the partner is “late” to meet him after a trip to the store or an appointment. If she cannot see him when he wants, he may question closely about who she will be with on her plans.
- Quick Involvement: Many people dated or knew the man who abused them for less than six months before they were committed or living together. He comes on like a whirl-wind- “You’re the only person I could ever talk to,” “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.” He needs someone desperately, and will pressure the partner to commit to him.
- Unrealistic Expectations: He is very dependent on the woman for all of is needs: he expects her to be the perfect girlfriend, mother, lover, friend. He will say things like, “If you love me, I’m all you need – you’re all I need.” She is supposed to take care of everything for him emotionally and meet all his needs.
- Isolation: the young abuser tries to cut the woman off from all resources. If she has made friends, she is a “slut”, if she has girlfriends, she is accused, disparagingly, of being a lesbian. If she is close to family, she is “tied to the apron strings.” He accuses people who are her support of “causing trouble.” He may try to keep her from working or being involved in school or other activities that do not revolve around him.
- Blames Others for His Problems: If he is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing him wrong or out to get him. He may make mistakes and then blame the person he is dating for upsetting him and keeping him from concentrating on doing his job. He will tell the partner she is at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.
- Blames Others for His Feelings: He will tell the young woman, “You make me mad,” “You’re hurting me by not doing what I ask,” “I can’t help being angry.” He really makes the decision about what he things and feels, but will use feeling to manipulate the woman. Harder to catch are his claims that “You make me happy,” “You control how I feel.”
- Hypersensitivity: The abuser is easily insulted, he claims his feelings are “hurt” when he is really very mad, or he takes the slightest set backs as personal attacks. He will “rant and rave” about the injustice of things that have happened to him-things that are really just part of living – like being asked to turn his work in on time, getting a traffic ticket, being to that something he does is annoying or being asked to help with chores.
- Cruelty to Animals or children: This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain or suffering. He may expect children to be capable of doing things far beyond their ability or he may tease children or young brothers or sister’s until they cry. (60% of men who beat the women they are with also beat their children).
- “Playful” Use of Force During Sex: The abuser may like to throw the women and down and hold her during sex. He may want to act out fantasies during sex where she is helpless. He is letting her know that the idea of “rape” excites him. He may show little concern about whether she wants to have sex and sulk or use anger to manipulate her into compliance. He may start having sex with her while she is sleeping, or demand sex when she is tired or ill.
- Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, he may also curse her and degrade any of her accomplishments. The abuser will tell her that she is stupid and unable to function without him.
- Rigid Sex Roles: The abuser expects a partner to serve him. He may say she must meet his needs, even things that are criminal in nature. The abuser will see women as inferior to men, more stupid, unable to be a whole person without a relationship.
- Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde: Many women are confused by the abuser’s “sudden” changes in mood- they will describe that one minute he is nice and the next he explodes as though he has some special “mental problem”, or like he is “crazy.” Explosiveness and mood swings are typical of men who are abusers.
- Past Battering: the abuser may say he has hit girlfriends in the past, but they made him do it. You may hear from the relatives that the is abusive. A batterer will beat any woman he is with: situational circumstances do not make an abusive personality.
- Threats of violence: this would include any threats of physical force. “I’ll kill you,” “I’ll break your neck.” Most men do not threaten their partners but a batterer will try to excuse this behavior by saying, “Everybody talks like that.”
- Breaking or striking Objects: this behavior is used as a punishment, but is mostly used to terrorize the partner into submission. The man may beat o tables with his fist, throw objects around or near the partner. He may say, “See, I hit the rear-view mirror, not you. I don’t want to hurt your,” don’t be fooled – it is an implied threat.
- Any Force During an Argument: This may involve physically restraining her from leaving the room, as well as pushing or shoving her. Example: the man may hold the woman against a wall and say, “You’re going to listen to me.”
If any of these behaviors are present in your relationship, you may be shocked that this is happening to you, and that you may be a victim of a violent relationship. Therapy can help you assess if you are in danger. If you do have concerns or are confused as to what to do, therapy can also help guide and support you to look at what choices you have and how to take the next step. Your safety and mental health are essential.
The goal of psychotherapy so to move victims of violence from crisis to confidence. Some survivors need help understanding the cost of staying in an abusive relationship since many are threatened if they leave. Psychotherapy is also beneficial after people leave abusive relationships, since survivors of domestic violence face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress.
You deserve a safe, healthy and happy life. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Therapy is based on the idea that it is always possible to heal and move forward.
Call Denise to meet for a consultation at 713-524-9525.