Signs of Domestic Abuse - Parkside Police Department, Parkside, Pennsylvania

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Danger Signs of an Abusive Relationship

It may seem cute, or playful at first, but it leads to a Controlling and Abusive Relationship

Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of possesiveness and lack of trust. The abuser will question the partner about who s/he talks to, accuse the partner of flirting, or be jealous of time s/he spends with family, friends or children. As the jealousy progresses, the abuser may call frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. The abusive partner may refuse to let their partner work for fear s/he will meet someone else. The abuser may check car mileage or ask friends to watch their partner for them in their absence.

Controlling Behavior: At first, the abuser will say this behavior is because s/he is concerned for the victim's safety, her/his need to use her/his time well, or her/his need to make good decisions. The abuser will be angry if the partner is "late" coming back from the store or an appointment. The abuser will question the partner closely about where s/he went, whom s/he talked to. As this behavior worsens, the abuser may not let the partner make personal decisions about the house, what to wear, or going to church. The abuser may keep all the money or even make the partner ask permission to leave the house or room.

Quick Involvement: Many victims of domestic violence dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were married, engaged, or living together. The abusive partner comes on like a whirlwind, claiming "you are the only person I could ever talk to," "I have never felt loved like this by anyone." S/he will pressure the potential partner to commit to the relationship in such a way that later the partner may feel very guilty or that s/he is "letting them down" if s/he wants to slow down involvement or break it off.

Unrealistic Expectations: Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs; s/he expects the partner to be the perfect spouse, parent, lover, friend. The abusive partner will say things like "If you love me," "I am all you need" or "You are all I need." That victim is supposed to take care of everything for him/her emotionally and in the home.

Isolation: The abusive person tries to cut the victim off from all resources. If the victim has friends of the opposite sex, s/he is "fooling around." If s/he has same sex friends, s/he is "homosexual." If s/he is close to family, s/he is "tied to the apron strings." The abuser accuses people who are of support to the victim of "causing trouble." The abuser may want to live in the country without a phone, s/he may not let their partner use a car (or have one that is reliable), or s/he may try to keep the victim from working or going to school.

Blames Others For Problems: If the abuser is chronically unemployed, someone is always doing him/her wrong, or is out to get him/her. The abuser may make mistakes and then blame the partner for upsetting him/her and keeping him/her from concentrating on the work. The abuser will tell the partner s/he is at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.

Blames Others for Feelings: An abuser will tell the partner "you make me mad," "you are hurting me by not doing what I want you to do," " I can not help being angry." S/he really makes the decision about what s/he thinks or feels, but will use feelings to manipulate the partner. Harder to catch are claims that "you make me happy," "you control how I feel."

Hypersensitivity: An abuser is easily insulted, and will claim his/her feelings are "hurt" when really s/he is very mad or s/he takes the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. The abusive partner will "rant and rave" about the injustice of things that have happened that are really just part of living like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being told some behavior is annoying, being asked to help with chores.


Cruelty to Animals or Children: Abusers may punish animals brutally or be insensitive to their pain or suffering. S/he may expect children to be capable for doing things beyond their ability (spanks a two year old for wetting a diaper) or s/he may tease children or young brothers and sisters until they cry. The abuser may not want children to eat at the table or expect to keep them in their room all evening while s/he is home.

"Playful" Use of Force in Sex: This kind of person may like to throw the partner down and hold her/him down during sex. S/he may want to act out fantasies during sex where the partner is helpless. The abuser is letting the partner know that the idea of rape is exciting. He/she may show little concern about whether the partner wants to have sex and uses sulking or anger to manipulate her/him into compliance. The abuser may start having sex with the partner while s/he is sleeping, or demand sex when s/he is ill or tired.

Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen when the abuser degrades the partner, cursing her/him, running down any of her/his accomplishments. The abuser will tell the partner that s/he is stupid and unable to function without him/her. This may involve waking the partner up to verbally abuse her/him or not letting her/him go to sleep.

Rigid Sex Roles: The abuser expects the partner to serve them; the abuser may say the partner must stay at home, that s/he must obey in all things - even things that are criminal in nature. In heterosexual relationships, the abuser will see women as inferior to men, responsible for menial tasks, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Many victims are confused by their abuser's "sudden" changes in mood - they may think the abuser has some special mental problem because one minute she is nice and the next s/he is exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who abuse their partners, and these behaviors are related to other characteristics like hypersensitivity.

Past Battering: This person may say s/he has hit others in the past, but they made him/her do it. The partner may hear from relatives or ex-intimate partners that the person is abusive. An abuser will beat any partner they are with if the partner is with him/her long enough for the violence to begin.

Threats of Violence: This could include any threat of physical force meant to control the partner: "I'll slap your mouth off," "I will kill you," "I will break your neck." Most people do not threaten their mates, but an abuser will try to excuse threats by saying "everbody talks like that."

Breaking or Striking Objects: This behavior maybe used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize the partner into submission. The abuser may beat on the table with his/her fist, throw objects around or near the partner. Again, this is very remarkable behavior - not only is this a sign of extreme emotional immaturity, but there is great danger when someone thinks they have the "right" to punish or frighten their partner.

Any Force During an Argument: This may involve a batterer holding the partner down, physically restraining her/him from leaving the room, and pushing or shoving. They may hold the victim against the wall and say "you are going to listen to me!"

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