Abusers

 

Home

Abuse 101

Are you An Abuser?
by Nora Penia

I’m sure your answer is resounding ‘No!’ The word abuse has become synonymous with physical violence, and certainly, physical violence is abuse. But, abuse includes so much more than the physical. Ask yourself these questions. Do i take my anger and frustration out on my mate?

Do I feel my partner is at fault for the problems in my life?  Do I ever say ugly or mean things to my mate or call my partner demeaning and cruel names?

Do I believe my partner belongs to me and I have the right to make the decisions and require certain things from my mate? Do I keep secrets from my mate which concern both of us as a couple?

Do I feel my partner makes me angry?

Do I ever want to control what my partner does, says, wears, or thinks?

Do I object to my partner’s friends or keep partner from having or being with friends? Or family?

Am I uninterested in what my mate thinks or enjoys?

Do I question or check up on my partner? Do I accuse my partner of cheating on me or lying to me?

Have I ever used physical force, even slightly, directly (touching the body) or indirectly (throwing or breaking objects) to intimidate my partner?

Scroll down to read an explanation of each question.

Do I take my anger and frustration out on my mate?

Venting anger on others does nothing to remedy the reason for the anger. Yet, we often do just that. On the surface, it’s possible to find false reasons for exploding, telling ourselves we have good reason to be angry at our partner, who probably has nothing to do with the real anger inside.

Do I feel my partner is
at fault for the problems in my life?

What a relief to believe other people are responsible for our discomfort, unhappiness and problems. Again, this is a common reaction to life’s difficulties and stresses. But, it’s the easy way out. Nothing changes when we blame others, for if it really is their fault, and they don’t change, then the problem still exists. And, if the problem is really ours, we avoid the necessity of facing up to the hard task of making changes within ourselves. It’s the easy way out – but not forthe object of the blame.

Do I ever say ugly or mean things to my mate or call my mate demeaning and cruel names?

Often the motive behind such behavior is an attempt to make our partner as miserable and unhappy as we are, or to put him/her ‘in their place.’ It’s a child’s trick and has no place in the adult world, at work, or at home. This qualifies, easily, as emotional and verbal abuse. Nothing good can come from treating another person with anything less than respect. If we desire others to treat us kindly, how can we treat others less lovingly than what we expect?

Do I believe my partner belongs to me and I have the right to make the decisions and require certain things from my mate? Do I keep secrets from my mate which concern both of us as a couple?

It’s easy to simply take charge of someone else in the name of love. But, even though joined in love, each person is still an individual and has the right to have a say about how his/her life is shaped. Cooperation cannot be forced. The use of force results only in resentment and grudging compliance — not traits of a healthy relationship.

Do I feel my partner makes me angry? 

We respond to others with anger out of habit, false ideas about our right to be angry, or because we want a reason to release inner anger. It’s normal to feel anger, but how we respond to it is strictly up to each individual. It’s possible to retrain inappropriate reactions and replace them with more effective tactics such as calm discussion, negotiations, and compromise — seeking solutions together.

Do I ever want to control what my partner does, says, wears, or thinks?

From time to time, we all wish we could change our partners. Everyone has habits, tastes, and preferences we dislike. It seems to be human nature to think everyone should be as we are. But, we don’t have the right to make others change — even those under our authority. We can set an example, discuss the issue, or ask for changes. But, we have no right to try to force others to change by ridicule, name calling, put downs or constant harassing.

Do I object to my partner’s friends or keep my partner from having or being with friends? Or family? 

Deep inside, if we treat our partner badly, we are afraid they will stop loving us or tell others about the things we do. One answer is to make sure our mate has little contact with others. This behavior should be a sign that deep inside we know our treatment of our mate is not right. It is a wake up call. Unfortunately, most people ignore it and continue. Attempts to keep secrets only push a partner away and turn their love to hate.

Am I uninterested in what my mate thinks or enjoys? Do I cut off conversation about my partner or ridicule his/her opinions?

A self-centered attitude often results in abuse. Focusing on one’s self to the exclusion of others damages any relationship. Healthy relationships are full of give and take, shared joys, plans for the future and a sense of togetherness.

Do I question my partner or check up on him/her? Do I accuse my partner of cheating on me or lying to me?

A jealous nature is often present in an abuser. This results in an atmosphere of distrust. Checking up and making accusations are attempts to control a partner’s behavior in the mistaken belief that loyalty and fidelity can be forced.

Have I ever used physical force, even slightly, directly (touching the body) or indirectly (throwing or breaking objects) to intimidate my partner?

Emotional abuse can easily escalate into physical violence. Any use of force is an implied or direct threat and is used to try to control the situation or the person. It has no place in a healthy relationship. It is abuse.

These are all ways to attempt to control a relationship. So, how many ‘yes’ answers make an abuser? It could be as few as one, if it is done repeatedly and often. Or several, repeated from time to time. Some tactics are used rarely, some abusers use all these tactics, and any combination qualifies. Over time, a pattern emerges of using abusive tactics to gain control.

If you see yourself here, please consider getting help from a counselor trained in abuse issues, or from an intervention program.

© 1999 Nora Penia All Rights Reserved

 

Back to Abuse 101