Is Your Spouse Abusive?

Verbal abuse is something either gender can do.  Although there is a whole network of help for abused women, many wives also rage at their husbands for hours, call them cruel and belittling names, and withhold affection to get things done “their way.”  So in honor of both the abused wives and abused husbands, throughout our pages we make sure to keep references gender neutral or make sure to say “he or she.”

Do you wonder if your relationship may be abusive? Ask yourself the questions below. If you answer ‘yes’ to more than a few, you may want to take a closer look.

Does your partner: 

Updated January 2007bulletignore your feelings?bulletdisrespect you?bulletridicule or insult you then tell you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humor?bulletridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class?bulletwithhold approval, appreciation or affection?bulletgive you the silent treatment?bulletwalk away without answering you?bulletcriticize you, call you names, yell at you?bullethumiliate you privately or in public?bulletroll his or her eyes when you talk?bulletgive you a hard time about socializing with your friends or family?bulletmake you socialize (and keep up appearances) even when you don’t feel well?bulletseem to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won’tget?bullettell you you are too sensitive?bullethurt you especially when you are down?bulletseem energized by fighting, while fighting exhausts you?bullethave unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason?bulletpresent a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders?bullet“twist” your words, somehow turning what you said against you?bullettry to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes?bulletcomplain about how badly you treat him or her?bulletthreaten to leave, or threaten to throw you out?bulletsay things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad?bulletever left you stranded?bulletever threaten to hurt you or your family?bulletever hit or pushed you, even “accidentally”?bulletseem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other?bulletabuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object?bulletcompliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure?bulletpromise to never do something hurtful again?bulletharass you about imagined affairs?bulletmanipulate you with lies and contradictions?bulletdestroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances?bulletdrive like a  road-rage junkie?bulletact immature and selfish, yet accuse you of those behaviors?bulletquestion your every move and motive, somehow questioning your competence?bulletinterrupt you; hear but not really listen?bulletmake you feel like you can’t win? damned if you do, damned if you don’t?bulletuse drugs and/or alcohol involved? are things worse then?bulletincite you to rage, which is “proof” that you are to blame?bullettry to convince you he or she is “right,” while you are “wrong?”bulletfrequently say things that are later denied or accuse you of misunderstanding?bullettreat you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel?

Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:

bulletYou express your opinions less and less freely.bulletYou find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of when and how to say something.bulletYou long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge.bulletYou find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior?bulletYou feel emotionally unsafe.bulletYou feel its somehow not OK to talk with others about your relationship.bulletYou hope things will change…especially through your love and understanding.bulletYou find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality.    bulletYou doubt your own judgment.        bulletYou doubt your abilities.   bulletYou feel vulnerable and insecure.   bulletYou are becoming increasingly depressed. bulletYou feel increasingly trapped and powerless. bulletYou have been or are afraid of your partner.bulletYour partner has physically hurt you, even once. 

If you feel your relationship may be verbally and emotionally abusive, talk to people you trust. Talk to clergy, call your local battered women’s shelter, educate yourself, seek professional help. Do not allow verbal and emotional abuse to escalate to battery!

(reprint of Dr. Irene’s: “Signs of Verbal and Emotional Abuse“)

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