Dear Abby: When my daughter was 20, she met a guy who one minute showered her with roses and the next would beat her up. She stayed with him thinking she could change him, and became pregnant. On her 21st birthday, she tried to get away from him. He chased her up the road and went to punch her in the stomach. When she turned to avoid the blow, it landed, killing the child.
Abby, once a beater, always a beater. I hope all women in abusive relationships will see this letter. My daughter is fine now, married and expecting. I pray for the women and girls out there who are going through what she once had to.
– Pennsylvania Mom
Dear Pennsylvania Mom: I’m glad you wrote, because your letter reminds me that it has been some time since I printed the warning signs of an abuser. Here they are:
(1) Pushes for quick involvement: Comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.”
(2) Jealous: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone”; checks the mileage on your car.
(3) Controlling: If you are late, interrogates you intensively about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
(4) Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.
(5) Isolation: Tries to isolate you from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble.”
(6) Blames others for problems or mistakes: It’s always someone else’s fault if something goes wrong.
(7) Makes others responsible for his or her feelings: The abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of “I am angry,” or says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.”
(8) Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad.
(9) Cruelty to animals or children: Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partners will also abuse children.
(10) “Playful” use of force during sex.
(11) Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names.
(12) Rigid gender roles: Expects you to serve, obey, remain at home.
(13) Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
(14) Past battering: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person “made” him (or her) do it.
(15) Threats of violence: Says things like, “I’ll break your neck” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “Everybody talks that way,” or “I didn’t really mean it.”
If you feel you are at risk, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or www.thehotline.org.