If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship, err on the side of caution and look into it.
Recently, I met a woman who's been trying to escape a situation of domestic abuse. Her scenario is eerily similar to so many in our nation. On the outside, she and her family seem to have it all, but the signs are all too clear once you know what they are. I know the signs because my biological father was an abuser. He knew how to isolate, control, manipulate and humiliate. Our house was wrought with fear. Crossing him was like playing with fire so we didn't dare do it. We'd been burned too many times.
Do you know the signs you're in an abusive relationship? Does your partner humiliate or yell at you? Criticize you and put you down? Treat you so badly that you're embarrassed for your friends or family to see? Does this person ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments? Are you blamed for someone else's abusive behavior? Does your partner see you as property or a sex object rather than as a person? Does your partner exhibit controlling behavior (act jealous/possessive, control where you go or what you do, limit your access to money/phone/car/friends/family, restrict or sabotage your choices)?
Recently, I wrote this column about the horrors of domestic violence. There is an escape, but it's so much easier if the victim has support.
If you suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, ask if something's wrong, express concern, listen & validate, offer help and support his/her decisions. Don't wait for him/her to come to you, don't judge or blame, don't pressure him/her or give advice or place conditions on your support.
So many people are afraid to help someone in a domestic abuse situation. If you're too afraid to do something, simply share this column with someone you suspect may be struggling. Don't be afraid. It might just be the most important thing you ever do.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233
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