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Thursday, July 28, 2011

8 Signs of an Abusive Relationship

8 Signs of an Abusive Relationship
Domestic abuse can be psychological, physical or sexual, and often partners are reluctant to believe there is a problem. In fact, a recent study co-authored by Patricia O'Campo, a social epidemiologist and director of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, found that 54 percent of women in abusive relationships still viewed their partners as highly dependable, while 21 percent said they possessed significant positive traits, such as being affectionate.
The finding explains why some women stay in abusive relationships despite warning signs. Others stay out of plain fear of retaliation if they attempt to leave.
Still others may feel a sense of fear but ignore these instincts and stay in a relationship until it is too late to get out. A highly recommended book for anyone who suspects their partner may be abusive is The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence.
This book can help you recognize warning signs of a potential abuser and gives you strategies that can save your life if you find yourself in a dangerous situation. This book is essential reading for anyone who has questioned whether their partner would cause them harm, as well as for those who are in the dating scene, as this book can help you to spot red flags early on.
What are some signs that you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship?
  1. Acts of violence, including pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking or biting
  2. Making threats to you, your children, other family members or pets
  3. Threatening to commit suicide if you leave or do not listen
  4. Putting you down, making you feel bad or humiliating you
  5. Controlling your access to money, the car or the phone
  6. Forcing you to have sex or preventing you from using contraception
  7. Restricting your access to friends and family, or keeping you from going to school, leaving the house, etc.
  8. Showing excessive jealousy and possessiveness
A typical abusive relationship may also go through a cycle of abuse, guilt and apologies, followed by a period of normal behavior, and then continued abuse. The Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service offers the following scenario as an example of the full cycle of domestic violence:
Depression, anxiety and personality changes are all signs that a loved one may be stuck in an abusive relationship.
"A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, "I'm sorry for hurting you." What he does not say is, "Because I might get caught." He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her "If you weren't such a worthless whore I wouldn't have to hit you."
He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries.
What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because "you're having an affair with the store clerk." He has just set her up."
If you believe a loved one may be suffering in silence at the hands of an abusive partner, the following are warning signs to watch out for … the person may:
  • Always agree with their partner, or act afraid or anxious to please them
  • Receive frequent harassing phone calls from their partner, or check in with them often
  • Have frequent injuries that are explained away as "accidents"
  • Show personality changes or become depressed
  • Have low-self esteem (even if they used to be confident)
What to do if You're in an Abusive Relationship
Domestic violence can not only lead to physical injuries and possibly murder, but it is also linked to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and suicide attempts. So leaving an abusive relationship is often crucial for your mental and physical health and safety.

Before leaving, however, you should make a plan as, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, "The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave."
You should first decide when the best time to leave is, then pack a bag with essential items ahead of time. Decide exactly where you will go, including how you will get there. An offender can trace your phone calls and Internet activities, so be careful about discussing your plans with others.
If you're caught in an emergency situation, call 911 for help. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies that can help you. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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