Handling an abusive ex is a nightmare. It is sheer and utter hell and an experience that no one should ever have to endure. Unfortunately, it does happen and when it does, the victim is most likely to be female. Estimates by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence put the number of female domestic abuse victims at 1.3 million and most of those cases are never reported to the police. We can discuss lofty ideas about domestic violence issues all day, debating legislative intervention or setting up support systems for those affected by abuse, but for the victim, the legislative process is too slow and there are a plethora of reasons why someone would not inform authorities. What matters is survival. That is not to say that legislative action is not important or that it is unwanted, it’s just that when you are faced with the possibility of being punched in the face in five minutes when your abuser gets home from work, legislative intervention isn’t immediately practical. What is practical would be some kind of survival guide or manual, one that covered major aspects of living with an abusive partner, including recognizing abusive behavior, staying safe, leaving, and what to do after escaping, right?
OH MY GOD, LOOK! I FOUND ONE! And thus I present to you the four part weekly series “A Practical Guide for Handling an Abusive A**hole.” Let’s begin with how to recognize abuse.
Identifying Abusive Behavior and Leaving Denial Behind
No one wants to admit the person they love, who is supposed to love them, is an abusive prick. We make excuses, we blame ourselves for their behavior, we accept their justifications, and we believe them when they apologize and say it will never happen again. It’s only natural to want to see the best in your partner, but tolerance of abusive behavior is dangerous and potentially deadly, thus it is important to stop making excuses and downplaying abusive events. It’s not “nothing,” it’s a big deal. Of course, if you grew up in a household where abuse was the norm or if you’re just plain unsure as to what qualifies as abuse, you may not be able to recognize it for what it is. You might think “that’s just the way life is,” or write it off as your partner having a bad day (after all, he isn’t ALWAYS like this.) So how can you tell whether or not you’re involved with an abuser? Luckily, there are several indicators that should answer that question for you.
First, obviously, is physical violence. I’m assuming that those reading learned the same thing I did when I was in kindergarten: keep your hands to yourself and use your words. The response to altercations in a relationship or daily stress should NEVER be to beat the hell out of the other party or psychologically torment them like they were a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. In the darkest hour, in the worst state of your relationship, a partner should always treat you with respect—there is a line that should not be crossed, no matter how angry you get. Physical harm is abuse.
Abuse isn’t just physical, but emotional and psychological as well. If you find yourself being constantly yelled at, threatened (or if he is threatening your children or pet), called nasty names, intimidated, controlled by your partner, blocked from seeing family and friends, or prevented from leaving the house, you could likely be in an abusive relationship and if it hasn’t turned physical yet, be on your guard.
Third is sexual abuse. You NEVER owe anyone sex, not even a spouse or partner. It is something you give freely and gladly, not something taken. Sexual abuse can come in several different forms, including rape, sexual assault, forced prostitution, or interfering with birth control—forced pregnancy is an excellent control method.
Fourth is economic abuse. Controlling how you spend your money, or withholding money for necessities (or using that as leverage to get you to do what he wants), and damaging your credit on purpose are all signs of abuse.
The last main form of abuse is medical. If you have medication that you MUST take and he denies it to you, that is abuse. If he purposely and maliciously breaks your glasses, false teeth, wheelchair, asthma inhaler, or any other vital medical equipment, you are likely dealing with an abuser.
For more information, check out the links below or google “is this abuse?” You get tons of hits. Stay tuned for the next installment: Be Safe (By Channeling Your Inner James Bond).
Sources and Resources