Identifying Abusive Relationships
edited: Saturday, June 25, 2005
By E D Detetcheverrie
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004
Become a Fan
Think you may be abused? Not sure? Here's a description of different kinds of abuse and 20 warning signs that you might be in an abusive relationship.
Strangely, it’s estimated that 80 to 90% of us have been or currently are
being abused by someone we are close to. Stranger still, many of those who are being abused are actually unaware of it, or they tolerate it out of a sense of loyalty they believe is “love”. Another percentage tolerates abuse because they feel they deserve it or that what they’re receiving isn’t as bad as what other people go through, therefore they ought to be able to put up with it.
They say, “You always hurt the one you love,” and certainly disagreements and
hurt feelings are parts of all relationships, though they should never be chronic parts which may cause long-term damage. I’m not saying you should run away from home because you thought your punishment was too harsh when you
dinged Dad’s car while horsing around in the yard. It’s important to realize
that when we err we may adversely affect the feelings of others, which does not justify abuse but does mean we should know when we have angered or upset someone and understand that they may feel that an emotional lashing out is required. Often, the understanding brought about by clear and calm
communication may lesson a person’s anger and cause them to rethink your
“punishment” in a more rational manner. Were you grounded for a week for the
dent in Dad’s car? Were you denied permission to attend an event or have your allowance cut? Or, did he turn red, chase you down, then proceed to beat you and berate you like a common punk in an alley who just tried to rob him and rape his wife? If you argue with your girlfriend or wife, does she just need some time alone, does she grab the keys and go shopping or to a friend’s house, or does she take out her revenge by cheating on you, burning your clothes or otherwise damaging your belongings?
Abusers often deny they abuse anyone else. In some cases a person who has
endured abuse themself may not understand why someone else may find their way of thinking too harsh. They may believe it’s okay to strike their child or wife because they themselves were often struck or may have witnessed violence between the adults in their home when they were younger. Some people
experience terrible regret at the acts of violence they commit, yet seem unable to control themselves in the heat of flaring emotions. The regret they feel during or after the abuse they commit helps them believe you’ll
understand their feelings, that, “This is gonna hurt me a lot more than it’s
gonna hurt you,” that they believe they are punishing you for your own good,
to teach you a lesson, that they only hurt you out of love for you.
There are many different forms of abuse. My recent story here in the ‘Den
called “Reflections” deals with the long-term abuse of a young man named
“Donovan” who is so affected by his childhood abuse that it carries over into adulthood, leaving him unable to enjoy healthy relationships with practically anyone else. I am not a medical professional nor counselor of any kind. I am a victim of chronic abuse. “Reflections” is a sort of autobiography that I’ve fictionalized as I learn to deal with what has happened to me. There will be numerous references to “Donovan” and his life in this article as examples of types of abuse and its long-term effects. Much of what I’ve gathered here comes not only from personal experience but also from research, and I will list my references for anyone interested in learning more about abuse and how to deal with it.
I have since come to think of abuse as brain-washing since I was conditioned
over decades to believe things which are simply not true . I believe that love
leads to near-unbearable pain and long-term suffering. I believe that if
someone touches me it means they expect sex or are trying to coerce me into
something bad. I was taught through violence that expressing emotions is
wrong. If I cried, I was often struck and berated. If I was jubilant, I was
often yelled at to calm down. If I was angry, I was severely punished. I was
taught to never complain about any sort of discomfort. I was convinced that
whatever ailed me was far less than what might ail anyone else around me. I
was taught subservience and to never demand anything for myself. I was taught
to make do with whatever I had around me. I watched my belongings get
destroyed or discovered they had been given away, leaving me to believe that
nothing physical is permanent and attachment to material things is foolhardy. I learned to gorge myself when food was present because there were always days when it was not. I learned to do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing in order to escape criticism...and that it doesn’t really work anyway. I was convinced I am ugly, unwanted, completely undesirable unless I can be exploited by someone else. I learned I am completely expendable, disposable. That nothing I do is ever good enough. That no matter how hard I try to seem friendly and likable, I will always be ultimately abandoned. That I must learn to do without so that others around me may have more. That everything I think is right is wrong and hurtful to others. That I may suffer, but only silently. That I must put up with the other person or risk losing everything. That anything I earn may be taken from me at any time. That no one is trustworthy or can help me. That my opinions and decisions are irrelevant. That what’s good for the goose is never, ever good for this gander. That nobody, but nobody ever practices what they preach.
Is any of this striking a chord with you? My entire personality, disposition,
and even my way of reasoning are totally wrapped up in the beliefs I just
listed for you. Basically, your psyche is trying everything possible to help
you survive, so it tries to cram you into this tiny, almost invisible
hidey-hole just to protect you. Trouble is, it’s not a very good place to hide, so you still get discovered and abused even more. Another way it makes me feel is that everyone keeps trying to whittle me into their idea of what I
should be to better please them...and while it’ll never really work, crucial
bits of me keep getting stripped away by almost everyone I try to enjoy a
That makes it sound like I take it all passively. I assure you, I argue my
case until it’s obvious I’m just not getting through, and then I simply keep a tally of all that continues to aggravate me until it tips the scales and then...then I’m known to just wash my hands of everything and simply walk
away. I refuse to carry on the cycle of violence, abusing only myself since
I’ve been conditioned to avoid displeasing others. I’ve been brainwashed. Like a Stepford child. Now a Stepford adult, naively blundering into the grown-up world completely unprepared.
Now let’s take a look at the different forms of abuse:
Any kind of intentional physical injury which may cause bruising, welts, broken bones, scars, or internal injury.
“Donovan” was often struck by his mother as a child, sometimes because she was angry at him and sometimes because something else entirely had upset her. He often had bruises, fat lips, and black eyes. When he was young, he tried to climb out of a bath by himself and his mother screamed at him for trying to get out without her assistance, grabbed his arms off the edge of the tub where he was supporting himself--causing him to fall, then shook him and screamed at him some more, unaware she had just broken one of his legs. He has a scar across the bottom of his chin which he received during an ill-fated teasing by both parents as well as numerous other childhood scars, some of which he has
no memory of receiving. As a teen, he awakened one morning, yawned, and cut
his gums when he closed his mouth too hard on his last loose tooth. With blood
streaming from his lips, he ran to the bathroom to spit into the sink and rinse his mouth, but his mother was there curling her hair and became angered by his sudden intrusion. She struck him across his back and shoulders, pummeling him from side to side as streams of blood and saliva flew from his lips across the bathroom counter and sink. When she saw he was bleeding, she stopped to ascertain it wasn’t from something she had done, then laughed at him and reminded him to clean the bathroom up when he was through.
Donovan once forgot the rule that if he went into the kitchen, he was supposed
to ask if he was allowed to get something to eat and ask if his mother wanted anything while he was up, even though this weird rule sometimes got him
screamed at for being stupid for asking permission to eat something in his own
home. He made a mayonnaise sandwich because there was nothing else to put on
the bread, remembered the on again/off again rule, then returned to the living
room to ask his mother if she wanted anything to eat. She told him no, and
that he shouldn’t be eating anything either because they were going out for
dinner in a few hours. Reluctantly, he returned to the kitchen to find a
plastic sandwich bag to keep the food in, unaware his mother was following
him. When she saw the sandwich already made, she grabbed it, started screaming
at him, then grabbed him by his hair and yanked on it so that he cried out in
pain. At that moment, she started cramming the entire sandwich into his mouth, forcing it in so that he could not breathe or swallow, then started slapping him across the face and screaming at him to eat it since he was so God-damned hungry! He tried to force some of it out so he could manage it better, but was struck again and told he had to keep it all in his mouth and chew and swallow the entire thing at once. Because he was upset and crying, his nose was blocked, and he was choking right in front of her. In terror, he stood before her, sniffling as hard as he could in order to draw breath, and worked the sandwich as well as he could manage without letting any fall out of his mouth, eventually downing the entire thing.
Donovan began to physically abuse himself as a teen, convinced he deserved
punishment cause he was such a horrible person that his maltreatment should
continue even when there was no one around to administer it. He would beat
himself with a brass-edged wooden ruler until welts were raised across his
arms, legs, and torso. He also experimented with an artist’s razor, carving designs into the soles of his feet and “branding” himself with three gash marks across his left calf. Striking himself with his fists from frustration, he occasionally wore bruises on his own face, eventually striking himself in the right eye, causing himself to lose partial vision permanently.
A lesser, but still damaging form of abuse is harassment. Harassment is
generally a persistent attempt to force another person into agreeing to
something they don’t really want, or often repeated teasing or minor physical
Donovan’s first girlfriend, “Gloria” enjoyed striking him across his kneecaps
unexpectedly with her knuckles or a handy solid object. She persisted, finding the exercise funny, even when he explained it was painful and unwanted, tried arguing with her about it, and even tried threatening her to get her to stop.
Up through high school, Donovan was often singled out for physical
confrontation even after he’d discerned for himself at an early age that such rough “play” was unnecessary and often harmful. Some fellow students liked to wait for him to cross a threshold so they could try and slam doors upon him, enjoyed sneaking up behind him in hallways and striking the backs of his thighs with rulers, liked to walk up alongside him and body-check him into rows of lockers, and sometimes threw plates, broken bits of concrete or brick, or empty bottles at him at lunch, on the playground, and on his way to and from school. Once some of
the other kids received their driver’s licenses, it became a game for a cruel
handful of them to watch for Donovan as he walked to and from school, then
attempt to “frighten” him by trying to run him down on streets or up on
sidewalks. He learned to choose different routes home everyday.
This would consist of gratifying oneself in a sexual manner without the
consent of the person being used, or attempting to gain sexual satisfaction
from someone who is unable to decide for themselves legally or otherwise if
they wish to participate in such an interaction. Most cases of sexual abuse go unreported, often due to threats by the abuser, embarrassment of the abused,
or confusion by the abused as to what, exactly is taking place. Forms of
sexual abuse include coaxing the victim to perform for others, inappropriate
touching, actual intercourse in any form, or using the victim to unwittingly provide or produce pornography.
Gloria liked sex quite often after she started dating Donovan. She liked it so
much, she would insist he gratify her even if he was so sore from hours of
daily intercourse that he’d developed raw spots on his skin from it. Donovan
consented to her demands, but Gloria was wrong to keep trying to make him perform in a way that caused him further physical trauma. She liked to experiment on him with “toys”, and when she caused him pain, tore his flesh and made him bleed, she was going way too far. He tried to explain to her that he wasn’t used to such methods, having been a virgin until his first interaction with her, but she would continue to expect him to adapt to her personal desires, urging him to, “Take it like a man.” No one should ever be forced to stimulate another person sexually. No one should be forced to act out the other person’s desires and fantasies if doing so causes physical trauma. No one should be placed in a situation where they feel they must comply with another person’s wishes if it results in their own physical trauma or pain. You should never force your will upon another in a sexual manner, even if they consent initially. No means no and, “Stop, you’re hurting me!” should not be part of any sexual patter.
In the story about “Donovan”, it mentions his extreme discomfort when, as a child, he is lured into a situation where an older boy tries to hold him and French kiss him. He escapes the encounter, but the older boy threatens him, and Donovan ends up living in fear of the boy, doing bad things himself and blaming the boy in hopes of somehow getting him the punishment Donovan believes he deserves. In another instance, as a high school student, Donovan is ashamed to admit he’s being rather blatantly groped and fondled in a sexual manner by another student on a bus. He fears no one will believe if he tells on the boy and that the boy may try and turn the story around, making Don look
like a homosexual, which may garner him extra teasing and harassment at school. If a person tries to feel you up or grope you or do anything to your body that makes you uncomfortable, it is definitely a form of abuse or
harassment--particularly if the activity is performed in a sneaky manner, without your consent, or with threats involved. One of Donovan’s employers liked to walk in on his employees while they were using the restroom. He tried to make it seem accidental, but it happened so often and only with that one guy “accidentally” barging in that everyone he’d done it to knew it was very intentional. In a later incident, Donovan had an employer trap him in his
moving vehicle, seize his arm and threaten to pull over for a little
experimental “adventure” he had to promise not to mention to his wife.
While Donovan was never forced to satisfy another person sexually, it goes
without saying that if anyone you know is not supposed to be touching you that
way, or anyone you don’t want to be touched by in such a manner is trying to
touch you, make you touch them, exposes themselves, asks you to expose yourself, or tries to make you look at or participate in pornography, then you
are being sexually harassed and/or abused. In some cases, legal intervention may be necessary to prevent further attempts to harass you by the abuser, or to prevent them from harassing others in a similar manner.
This pertains to being in a situation where you are unable to provide for
yourself the basics of life and whomever is responsible for your well being fails to assist you. The basics would include food and water, shelter, medical care, personal hygiene, and supervision if necessary.
Donovan was a so-called “latch-key” kid as were many of us in families where
there was only one parent or both parents worked. We became dependent on
ourselves for the basics of life, but in some cases may not have been able to
obtain them. I recall my key breaking in the lock, or losing my door key more
than once and having to sit outside, alone, in the dark or cold at times,
waiting for someone to come home and help me. Those were unfortunate
incidents, but not a form of neglect. When I was left alone for entire days or nights while my mother was out drinking and partying, that was
definite neglect. She could take friends out for lunch or dinner on her credit card, but I sometimes had to make do at home with a can of vegetables, stale bread I’d cut the mold off of, or suspect cold cuts. When our water was cut off temporarily one night, she went out and bought a case of beer, but nothing for me. I was ten years old when I first drank a can of beer because there was nothing else in the house for me to drink.
At age sixteen, Donovan came down with a severely sore throat. He complained
about it for three days, could barely talk or swallow, but his mother ignored
him and made him show up for work regardless. He finally called his father
from work and explained the situation. His father called his ex-wife to demand
to know what was going on. She took Donovan to the doctor the next day. He’d
been in and out of fever, suffering from highly contagious strep throat.
Donovan was frequently ill as a child, but his mother seldom got him the
professional attention he required unless he was visibly bleeding. He had to lie to his teachers in second grade when they were doing vision screenings,
convincing them he had lost his signed permission slip. He ended up with
trifocal glasses. His mother always thought he was joking or stupid when he
couldn’t read signs, see airplanes overhead, or recognize other people from
mere yards away.
While he was expected to be always clean and well-groomed, Donovan soon
learned one of the weird rules of the household was that his mother could
bathe as long as she wished whenever she wished, but she dictated when it was
too late or too early for him to shower, sometimes wouldn’t allow him to
shower at all for a day or two, and yelled at him for using too much water
when he did, sometimes cutting the water off before he had completely rinsed his hair or body. She would also complain about all the laundry that had to be done, yet insist he wear clean clothes every single day. So he learned to take off his clothes and put them away nice and neat as if they were clean, then don a “fresh” set of unwashed clothes once he was home from work or school. In this way, he could sometimes wear the same clothes over and over for a month before finally retiring something to the washer and dryer. His mother had two huge closets full of designer-label and custom made clothing with matching accessories, a jewelry armoire, mink coat, tons of shoes, etc. Donovan is still getting use out of clothes he acquired when he was thirteen and now shops at Goodwill and The Salvation Army every couple of months when something old has worn out.
This is the hardest abuse to define or prevent because there are no visible
scars or other damage. An emotionally abused person may not even realize they
have been or are being abused because they’re not being physically injured,
they recognize there are other people who may be far worse off than themselves, they may have been “conditioned” to deal with it, or they may feel they must put up with it out of “love”. Let me address that last bit. If your relationship is based on lies (telling your abuser or anyone else that everything’s fine, lying to try and keep your abuser calm, trying to convince yourself it’s not that bad, or that it will eventually get better, or that the abuser is just stressed out or will eventually change) then you’re not in love--you’re in fear. Nobody should ever have to live in fear. If you hope things will get better or end, odds are they will only get worse. If you fear loneliness, or wonder where you’ll end up if you leave your abuser, I guarantee it will be better than trying to live with them. If you think it’s okay because others are worse off than you, then let me warn you that emotional abuse can end as violently as physical abuse can. If you think your
abuser is just stressed or going through a phase, ask yourself how long the abuse has been building and growing and why doesn’t it show signs of ending? I didn’t say lessening--I said ending. Many people who emotionally abuse others may go through mood swings where some days or weeks the abuse is far more tolerable than others. It doesn’t matter. It’s still there. It’s ugly, it irritates the hell outta you, it upsets you, it can affect your whole day, and why are you punishing yourself for remaining with that person? The loved dog obeys his owner. The whipped dog obeys the whip. Which one are you? Do you walk on figurative eggshells to avoid distressing your significant other? Do you hide things they might find upsetting, tell “little white lies” or lie by omission? Do you try and avoid your abuser, holing up in your bedroom, hanging out at the mall or with friends, throwing yourself into work or play of some sort in which they’re not included just to get some time away from them?
Donovan’s mother told him repeatedly that he was stupid, that he was ugly, and that he would never get anywhere in life. Because he came to think he was
clumsy and irresponsible and unlikable, he withdrew from social events, had
difficulty making friends and keeping them, and never gave anything his all
because he believed no matter how hard he tried, he could never be good enough
for anyone for anything. He was taking art awards in the third grade, could
read at age three, wrote short stories and poetry by grades three and four,
learned to fly airplanes the same time he was learning how to drive, never
took illegal substances, exercised frequently, was continually tested
throughout childhood to keep track of his rising IQ, rode English saddle,
invented an animal trap at age seven that left the animals unharmed and was
offered a contract by the HavaHart Corporation, had basic veterinary knowledge by age eleven, is a voracious reader of fact and fiction, can translate a handful of Germanic and Latin based languages and even speaks a little Russian and Spanish, is unable to learn enough of anything to satisfy himself, is a pretty good cook who dabbles in Slavic, Asian, and Polynesian cuisine, ice skates and roller skates, knows his way around a woodworking shop and can perform some carpentry tasks, loves discussing quantum physics, astronomy, geology, zoology, medicine, veterinary medicine, psychology, archaeology, art,
literature, filmmaking, theology, is a good marksman with sidearms and bow &
arrow, loves gardening, hiking, boating, swimming, mountain climbing, kite flying, photography...and despite all this, he is still convinced he’s not
good enough at anything to please anybody.
Here is a general list of warning signs if you think you may be in an abusive
adult relationship. Early on in his relationship with Gloria, Donovan
discovered a list of similar warning signs in a magazine article and realized
that Gloria matched most of the criteria...if only he hadn’t laughed it off, assuming her controlling, suspicious nature was due to her past failed relationships.
1) If the person comes on too strong initially, hinting they already want more than mere friendship before you’ve even really gotten to know them.
Gloria started talking about marriage to Donovan two weeks after they’d
started dating. She continually dropped hints about it until he proposed, at
which point she suddenly became vague about when they’d actually marry and
kept the engagement a secret for quite some time. She didn’t necessarily want
to forge a commitment with him, but wanted to make sure he was focused on her alone and therefore, by her way of thinking, less likely to cheat on her or
leave her before she was through with him.
2) If the person seems unreasonably jealous.
Gloria would question Donovan if he showed up at her place a little later than she thought was necessary. He would have to provide receipts for gasoline or fast food or suggest she call his work place to prove why he may have been delayed. She phoned him constantly at home and at work to check up on him until the time she felt she “had” him and was free to start looking for other men to please her. If he was sick, she’d drive to his home to “surprise” him, really checking to make sure he wasn’t lying to her. She also made it a point to visit his workplace and question his feelings about anyone there she thought could prove a possible rival to her. She behaved in a very suspicious manner, questioning everything he did apart from her, sometimes requiring physical confirmation of his alibis. She‘d try and discourage him from doing things without her, and when he insisted he was going anyway, she’d eventually
reluctantly decide to go with him, then often tried to sabotage the event by
feigning illness or growing whiny, complaining about petty things so they
could leave and do what she really wanted to do instead. Gloria had to be in control, always, over everything, or at least think that she was. Donovan came across as quite henpecked after awhile, doing nothing without her, doing more of what she wanted to do and less of what he wanted to do. Unfortunately, he was willing to please her because he attributed her behavior to past insecurities and desperately wanted to assure her he was completely
trustworthy. She grew very suspicious when he sensibly suggested they sign a
prenuptial agreement stating that each one would only take from the marriage
what they had put in should things ever fail, and refused to allow both their
signatures on any documents or to share a bank account with her once they were
wed. He was trying to protect her since she’d been raked over the coals once
before after her previous marriage. He was also trying to protect himself
should things ever turn sticky.
3) Extremely demanding about how you behave.
Gloria often chided Donovan over his choice of clothing, which while not
inappropriate, was also not fashionable. She threw out some of his clothes and bought him new things she liked on him better, and even made him cut his hair in a way that pleased her. His mother had treated him the same way, forcing him to agree to let her buy him terrible clothes he hated just by wearing him down in clothing stores until he’d consent just to get her to leave him alone. She also dictated how his hair should be worn and sometimes tried to cut it herself. She was also known to throw away or give away the few items of clothing he preferred and wore the most often. Gloria tried to convince him he was unable to fend for himself. She complained about the way he bathed, his choice of music, the way he slept, the way he drove...just like his mother had. It was all an attempt to brainwash him into thinking he had to rely on someone else just to get by and therefore would never leave either of them.
4) They attempt to cut you off from socializing.
Donovan’s mother expected him to play with the children of her friends, but
did not encourage him to make friends of his own. After years of losing
friends unexpectedly, he discovered that after a while she would tell them
when they called for him or showed up at the door that he didn’t want to hang
out or talk with them anymore. She would sometimes even make up reasons why he didn’t really like any of them. She told him he was not allowed to date until he was twenty-five, and if anyone tried to set him up with a girl, she would announce that he simply wasn’t interested, often embarrassing him in public. Gloria spoke poorly of Donovan’s few co-workers and acquaintances, trying to convince him they were unworthy of his attention. Sometimes she’d tell him they had told her something rude or nasty about him in order to make him think that all of his friends were false. When she discovered that her best friend had an interest in him, she told him the girl had once intentionally drowned a basket full of kittens just for fun. Gloria was pretty social herself, flirting lightly with any guys she liked, even in Donovan’s presence, explaining she was just being friendly and polite. After their engagement, she began hanging out in bars and staying out late at night on her motorcycle,
making new friends and telling Donovan she loved him, but that she needed a little space.
5) Refuse to accept responsibility. Everything that goes wrong is never his or her fault. It’s often yours, or sometimes it’s because of something else or someone else.
Donovan’s mother blamed him for everything. She often walked in the door after work and started screaming for him, then proceeded to beat the crap out of him for reasons unknown to him. This was what caused him to think he was such a bad child that he obviously deserved such treatment. He found out much later that if someone cut her off on her way home from work, or work had been stressful, or her mood was just foul that day, she’d beat him and berate him. He was seldom the cause for her rage because he tried to avoid her as much as possible, and often spent entire days holed up in his room drawing or reading, afraid of messing something up or attracting attention to himself in any way. Sometimes she’d accidentally break something or mess something up herself, but would seek him out to punish him for it. He lived in constant terror, and often broke down into tears and trembling if he heard her car pulling up to the house, even if he hadn’t done anything wrong while she’d left him home alone. Gloria, of course, blamed Donovan for her cheating. Cheating is an individual choice just like any other activity you decide on your own to participate in. She could never give him actual reasons why he had made her cheat because the entire time he’d been with her, he did whatever was necessary to try and placate her, often making personal sacrifices of his time, his energy, and his dignity just to try and keep her happy. Had she asked him to change in any way, he would have done so gladly. It was her agenda all along to make sure she had access to clean, healthy sex whenever she desired it while looking for something new on the side. In other words, she refused to let go of the trapeze until she was certain she had the next one secure within her hand. Donovan, in the meantime, blames himself for pretty much everything which befalls him, and his own insecurities do indeed sabotage various aspects of his life. Don’t let other people prey on your insecurities or use emotions or mental blackmail against you to try and force you to their will. Don’t become the other person’s scapegoat. “If you loved me, you would...” or any similar statement is another way to control you. Never, ever give in to ultimatums. Another method of abuse is the way they may word things. Accusatory language is meant to belittle you and guilt you into
submitting to their desires. They wish to make you uncertain of your own
motives when they begin sentences with “You...” For instance, “You are so
stupid sometimes! You never pay attention to me anymore!” Or even, “I can’t believe you did...” A concerned, caring person would say something like,
“Okay, that didn’t turn out too well. I’m pretty upset, but let me think
before I get too emotional with you. Sometimes accidents happen. Perhaps we
should have come up with a better plan.” Obviously, we often blurt out
whatever comes to mind first when we’re upset, but constant nagging, insults,
or other accusations flung your way are wrong. Even if the person apologizes
later for their harsh words, constant accusations of this sort are a good indicator there’s something very wrong.
6) Gets hurt easily.
When I worked in TV, I once watched a moronic weekend anchor get chewed out by
the news director for running home to grab her curling iron and missing the
first half of her own newscast because of her vanity. We were all glad to witness her upbraiding because nobody liked the selfish, spoiled, lying, but
very pretty little twit. In horror we saw her turn the whole thing around
simply by acting like an innocent five year old girl, hanging her head and
speaking in soft, girlish tones, twisting her long red hair around a finger, pouting, twisting back and forth in a swivel chair. She pretended she weally had no idea of the time, gosh-golly, and she’d never, ever do it again! Pwomise! She gave her best kicked-puppy performance and actually got away with us showing an empty chair and news desk live for fifteen minutes straight. I was so unnerved by her gall I didn’t know whether to throw up or smack the crap out of her myself! Does your man get all weepy-voiced and tell you he was only calling around to see where you were ‘cause he was afraid something had happened to you or he
missed you so much? Does your woman get all little-girlish and draw lines on
the carpet with her big toe while she explains she only threw away your power
drill because she accidentally dropped it? Gloria liked to play the, “Gee! But
I’ve been cheated on myself before and went through a messy divorce!” card
when Donovan became upset with her. His excuses for his behavior were never
good enough, yet she explained everything away by claiming she’d had such a rough life to date, and Donovan would feel sorry for her because he knew what that was like. Later, most of her stories of her crappy childhood failed to gel when he asked her parents and siblings about them. Don’t buy into that crap. We’re all responsible for the choices we make in life despite our
backgrounds, and while environmental factors can sway our hands or cloud our
judgment, we should never be able to get away with wrong doings just by acting hurt or cute. It may have worked on parents or grandparents, but if you’re tired of the same old excuses or can see right through the game, call them out or dump ‘em. Behavior like that is just pathetic.
7) You may witness them abusing animals or children.
It’s always easier to bully someone weaker or who can’t speak up for
themselves. Gloria and Donovan got a puppy after Gloria’s dog died. It was
playful and didn’t always respond to commands at just a few months old even
though Donovan worked with it for an hour every night, training it how to walk on a leash and obey hand and vocal signals. One day, as they were leaving the horse farm where they both worked, the puppy, all of four months old, decided it didn’t feel like walking on the leash to the car, so it stopped and
wouldn’t budge. Gloria snapped. The animal was on a choke chain, and she tried to strangle it as she dragged it across a gravel driveway, walking at a brisk pace and jerking the puppy from its feet if it managed to rise during this extra-harsh treatment. She continued to drag and jerk on it until the animal was bloody about the muzzle and one paw, explaining to Donovan that this was how they’d trained dogs in the military. Donovan threw up. She told him how after one puppy she’d had chewed up a new sofa after she’d left it alone one day, she’d hung the animal from it’s leash until it had passed out, then kicked it in the head once it awakened. Thank God it learned the lesson fast! She took pleasure in bringing her dogs to Donovan’s house after they’d begun dating, allowing them to chase the cats that lived there and laughing if the animals voided in fear. She even tried to sick her German shepherd on a small, defenseless cat that had come home from surgery the day before, but the smaller animal actually stood and defended itself against the startled dog. At a friend’s birthday party, Gloria was playing with her sister’s four year old child when the girl accidentally kicked her across the jaw while being tickled. The blow didn’t even leave a temporary redness, but Gloria snatched the child upright abruptly and slapped her across the face before shaking her violently and growling through clenched teeth that she should never, ever kick or strike Gloria in any way ever again.
Donovan’s mother was known to slap cats off of furniture, actually causing
them to go airborne momentarily. We already know how she treated her adopted
8) Inappropriately rough sex.
One of the things Donovan found so intriguing about Stephanie, the girl he
became overly friendly with over the Internet, was the way she spoke of being
gentle and tender with him. These were concepts completely alien to him in
terms of sex. Gloria liked to wrestle him, sometimes utilizing handcuffs or a
nightstick on him so she could get her way. This may sound like fun until you
realize the items she used were real police issue and not fuzzy, or toys for
adults. She taught him to play rough and that she always got what she wanted
whether or not he reached satisfaction himself. The handcuffs sometimes cut
into his wrists or left bruises that would last for days. The nightstick was
sometimes pressed against his throat, and he would have to try harder than
just playfully to force her to back off of him. There was a bit of danger
involved in her more dominating moments, and he was never sure how to take that. She’d often turn him down angrily if he’d try to initiate sex, yet
always got what she wanted when she wanted it from him. Her use of other
“toys”, despite his protests, actually caused him injury on occasion. He was
never, ever allowed to use props on her. He was never raped...though he
sometimes turned her down and wound up with her anyway, especially toward the
end of their relationship. A female in his situation could easily discern that
things were out of control and perhaps be frightened where he was mainly
confused. Some people like roughhousing in bed, but if you don’t, then there’s
no reason at all why you should be made to participate in it. Sex is supposed
to be a reciprocal event with encouragement to experiment if desired, but no pressure to do so. If your partner uses sex as a reward or withholds it as punishment based on their interpretation of your behavior, or if only he or she may determine when sex may be initiated, you’ve got problems.
9) Verbal abuse.
Gloria loved to argue and would continue even after she’d been proven wrong. Her constant loud mouth and complaints earned her the nickname, “Evil” from her own family members. (That in itself should be sufficient warning to anyone that they may be getting involved with a potentially psychotic wacko!) She did
what she wanted when she wanted and cared little for the consequences to
others. This is what got her kicked out of her home, a friend’s home she tried
to stay at, and banned from entering two of Donovan’s workplaces. His mother
constantly told him how stupid he was, was he crazy, why was he so lazy, that
he couldn’t get through life without her. She would sometimes wake him late at night or very early in the morning to scream at him and force him to run
errands for her or do chores around the house as punishment for something he
was unclear of. There was constant screaming in his childhood homes--hers when she was conscious at all, and his when he was alone and in deep mental
anguish. Donovan would even take up the slack when she wasn’t there, yelling
at himself in a mirror, asking himself why he was so stupid and possibly crazy
and couldn’t do anything right ever. Again, dumb things can be said harshly in the heat of emotion, but being repeatedly picked on, insulted, or argued with by anyone who claims to love you really is insane.
10) Treats you like less than second-best.
Donovan’s mother forced him to become the man of the house at age six when his
father left. He had to carry and move heavy things, try and fix things, and
show her how every new gadget brought into the home worked. She made him clean
the house (though she claimed he never did it right or well enough), made him
appear at her side in public, and made him take the brunt of her own messed up
emotions. She controlled him like he was mentally deficient and could not
exist without her. She tried to convince him he was weak and unable to care for himself, not realizing the terrible hatred she was fostering within him. His mother wore designer clothes, constantly bought herself nice new jewelry, ate at nice restaurants, and watched what she wanted to on TV when she wanted to. Donovan’s feelings and needs were never taken into consideration at all. He even came down with scurvy as a result of malnourishment while in her care
and suffered the effects of low thiamin and riboflavin, which include tearing
of the flesh at joints like the corners of the mouth and where the earlobes
meet the head, because she remained well fed but sometimes let him scrounge
for food or go hungry. He developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
which is basically a slow and ugly death-sentence that causes eventual
debilitation and is incurable, because she chain-smoked around him and refused
to let him open windows or doors in the house or in the car just so he could
breathe. Gloria demanded he clean the apartment and do the laundry because she
claimed she was just too tired to do it, and only chipped in for groceries on
one single occasion. She insisted she get steak and pasta and cake and pies
and soda, even when Donovan could only afford rice and peanut butter and instant tea mix for himself. Sometimes she’d have visitors come by for meals
without telling Don ahead of time, then give her friends his share of the food. She would have Don stop by her workplace to pick up the remains of a
meal she’d ordered earlier or picked up on her way to work to give to her dogs
to finish, and sometimes he’d be so hungry, he’d eat the leftovers himself.
When their roommate couldn’t pay his share of the rent and utilities, Gloria
asked Donovan to take up the slack, making him pay two-thirds instead of half. She frequently borrowed money from him to buy herself things she didn’t need, then claimed with a wink she was paying him back in “other ways.” The “give and take” in relationships is supposed to be reciprocal. No one person should keep taking and expecting more while the other gives and gives and gets little
or nothing in return. Gloria also had the strange habit of running into old
acquaintances, and conveniently forgetting she was there with Don, never
introducing him or admitting he was her boyfriend or fiancé.
11) Mood swings.
Don’s mother’s behavior was so erratic that despite warning Gloria to stay
open-minded and to come to her own conclusions regarding her, it wasn’t long after they met that Gloria decided his mom must be bi-polar. One moment
threatening his life, dragging him around by his skin or hair or clothing,
shaking him, striking him, throwing objects at him, insulting him, the next
she would act as though nothing at all scary had just happened, frightening
Donovan even more. She would start trashing the house and screaming about how she was going to kill him, then suddenly be calmly seated on the sofa watching TV, looking sad as she asked him why he didn’t crawl up there with Mommy and join her? It wasn’t unusual for conversations to go, “I’ll murder you! I can’t believe how stupid you are! You make me so mad! What the hell were you thinking?” then a heartbeat or two and she’d conclude with her arms
outstretched, waiting for a hug, purring, “I love you! Want a Twinkie? I
bought some today!” From day to day, minute to minute, Donovan never knew when she’d next explode or what on earth it would be that would set her off, but weirder still was the way she’d suddenly act like someone had changed the channel abruptly, acting like nothing untoward had just happened at all. That’s a pretty extreme case, but similar abuse might involve the person saying something horrible to you in anger like, “I’d kill you now if it was legal,” then later tell you you’re crazy to listen to him when he’s angry, you know he doesn’t mean it, he would never hurt you! Silly bean! Or perhaps deny ever saying it or behaving in any erratic or threatening manner at all. And beware women who blame stuff on their “PMS”. Post menstrual syndrome is not as widespread as people would have you believe, the symptoms do not justify
violence or abusive behavior, and it should be diagnosed professionally and
not by the woman herself or anyone around her. “I’m gonna get my period, I
have a headache and I’ve got my period, my period just left me,” are not excuses for acting crazy. Neither is “stress”. Donovan’s grandfather took the brunt of the abuse when he went to live with Don and his mother. He was
doddering and incontinent and often refused to eat, and these things
infuriated his already possibly psycho daughter. Don called Social Services
twice to report the abuse, but was told that his mother was stressed from
working all day, then having to come home and take care of an elderly man. She was bruising him, stabbing his gums and lips with forks, and slamming him into doorways and walls because she was stressed. Donovan angrily decided that if he took a second job, then came home and had to deal with her “stress”, then
he should be able to justifiably murder her.
12) Devote yourself entirely to them.
During the four years Don dated Gloria, he never produced a bit of artwork. She never encouraged him to do anything beyond her own requests for sketches
and stuff, and pretty much didn’t care about his hopes and dreams and goals.
She told him what she hoped the future would be like, and when he gave her his
version, she laughed at him and told him that his dreams were unrealistic. His mother told him he could be anything...so long as he took her with him wherever he decided to go to school, work, or to live. She thwarted him when he jumped on the opportunity to attend a college far from home. She told him he would never get anywhere in life...without her. He stayed home most of the time while trying to co-exist with both of these women. When he tried to hang out with friends, he was yelled at for his selfishness. He was discouraged from ever doing anything on his own, and when opportunities came along he was always told they were too good to be true . Gloria didn’t seem to care if he kept a few friends--at a distance--if they were of the same gender, but made it clear she disapproved of any female friends he had. He could never convince her he loved her alone, despite the fact he had devoted his life and attention
completely upon her already! She also encouraged him to spend his own
hard-earned cash on her desires rather than his own, ensuring he’d never be
able to save to get anything for himself or escape her. His mother always
demanded 75% of his paychecks right off the bat for “rent”. Both of these
women demanded Donovan be slave to them to do with as they pleased, never able
to satisfy his own wants or needs. They crippled him by discouraging his
dreams and trying to take away his means of achieving any of them. They
insisted they be spoiled by him as a way of making him show his love and
devotion to them. To this day he asks little, but gives of himself to his own
detriment trying to keep the people he cares for happy.
13) They can’t take care of themselves.
I’ve often said, “A person who can’t take care of themselves cannot take care
of you, either.” Donovan’s mother smoked like a chimney, was often overweight, and in debt buying herself nice things. Her home was falling apart from age and wear and all she did was make it pretty with new carpeting, furniture and wallpaper. She was an alcoholic until the battery of medicines she became dependent upon forced her to quit. When she went on the “patch” to help quit smoking, she hid the fact she really was still smoking, and would thrash all night long in her sleep, stimulated by twice the nicotine. Gloria proclaimed she thought fat people were gross, then gained about thirty pounds off of
Donovan’s cooking (which she claimed was terrible). She claimed she almost
never drank, but was drinking pretty regularly just before they broke up. She
stopped exercising and gave up her dreams entirely. She chose bankruptcy over paying off her debts just because it sounded like a good thing to try and not because it was necessary. Neither one of these women could properly care for herself, and neither one did more than use Donovan. He’s dieting and
exercising regularly these days, by the way.
14) They hide communications between themselves and others from you.
Shortly into his relationship with Gloria, Donovan discovered she’d been
corresponding with a former boyfriend and the letters made it seem like she
was trying to get back in his pants again. Three months later the guy went on to marry a girl he’d met in college just a month before, conveniently
thwarting her plans to dump Don. He found out after Gloria’s ex-fiancé’s death that she had been planning to dump him for that guy, too, lying about how often she spoke with him by phone. Donovan was open about his communications with Stephanie over the Internet, telling his girlfriend, Donna, everything until the conversations became overly personal and he knew that admitting his
feelings for Steph would hurt her. After Steph’s husband discovered she’d been trying to keep secret the bulk of their conversations, Donovan admitted to
Donna that there had been more going on than he should have allowed and she
accepted it because a similar situation had occurred between herself and
another male she had previously dated. Let me explain right now that cheating
does not beget cheating. Just because one does it does not give the other
person the right to try it. Never accept as the other person’s excuse for
hiding things the fact that you’ve hidden things yourself. Correspondences by phone or mail or email are not cheating...but can be accepted as such if either party involved has the intention to push the relationship further. Don and Steph were wrong to let things go as far as they did, but both swore to the end that neither was interested in cheating on their respective lover, and no mention of what went on online ever occurred between them in person. Gloria, on the other hand, flat out admitted she had every intention of dumping Donovan had the other guys given in to her. This is a personal issue you really ought to discuss with your loved one ahead of time. Some women get pissed if you happen to notice another female walking by in public or indicate your appreciation of a celebrity, or like to look at pictures of naked women. Some women like to engage in threesomes with their husbands or have fun at swingers’ parties. You really need to know ahead of time what your boundaries are in this area BEFORE you do something stupid like marry the girl. They say
debt, substance abuse, and disagreements of a sexual nature are the three things most likely to break up a marriage. Recent articles in PlayBoy dealing with threesomes and foursomes caution strongly against them if you’re in a committed relationship. Dating singles tend to be more obliging and less jealous. If you’re not done exploring and playing the field, you have no right to be married. Far too many people marry too young because they’re “in love”. Far too many people marry before they’ve had enough time to really get to know their potential mate on all levels of intimacy. It’s cruel to commit to somebody, then expect them to understand why you still feel a need to seek out potential new playmates. It’s cruel to rope somebody into marriage or a relationship just because you fear loneliness.
15) They break the law.
Gloria rolled back the odometer on her car so she could commit insurance fraud. She lied about what possessions she owned when she filed for bankruptcy. She tried to coerce Donovan into signing his car over to her. She
cheated on him with a kid with a fake ID...so God knows how old he really was!
She used Donovan to purchase a firearm for her as a “gift”, known as a “straw
man purchase” and very illegal. She’d accrued numerous traffic violations (and
been in seven vehicular accidents before meeting Don, one later with Don in the vehicle with her!) When she slept with a guy who was known for his
promiscuity, who had lived with a female for years who later died of AIDS,
then slept with Donovan...had he ever tested positive for AIDS she would have
been charged with attempted murder, and had Don died of AIDS she would have
been imprisoned or worse for his murder. What a winner, eh? If the person
you’re with has way too many loser friends who fall into any of the abusive
categories listed here, odds are your love is a loser, too. Be wary.
16) They never sing your praises.
At age sixteen, Donovan won his first Best In Show Award for his artwork and
made the local newspapers as his school’s first ever Artist Of The Month. He called a distant aunt, his mother’s sister, to tell her the good news. She was very, very pleased he’d won his first art award... He told her he’d been winning them for years all the way up to the state level. She hadn’t known that. He’d started taking awards in the third grade. Really? This was the first time he realized that anytime his mother called her relatives or friends and mentioned him, it was only in negative terms. No wonder they’d all laughed at him that Christmas when he’d announced in front of all of them that he hated his mother and he was not her slave! They all assumed he was a rotten, horrible, lazy child! Gloria seldom even introduced Don to anyone, so we know she wasn’t gushing on about him to anyone. Why behave this way? It’s easier to
justify your abuse of someone if you paint an ugly picture of them ahead of
17) You’re just never good enough.
He calls you klutzy while rolling his eyes. She tells you an A is not an A+,
and you need a lot more of them if you think you’ll ever get anywhere in life.
But you only dropped that hot pan because the cat suddenly darted in front of your feet. You’re normally on the Honor Roll and a star athlete to boot! Donovan’s aware of his successes in life and proud of his accomplishments, but even he thinks he’s not good enough because that’s all he was ever told for the bulk of his life. If you feel like you go above and beyond to try and keep your mate or parents happy, but they still shrug it off or let you know it’s just not enough, then you may never be happy with yourself, either, no matter how great or successful you ever become. Worse still, this is a very easy form
of abuse to pass on to others, expecting great things when good enough will get the job done just fine. If you’re extremely critical of the performances of others or wonder why nobody but you seems able to do anything right, you may be or may have been a victim of this form of abuse without realizing it. Don’s mother not only let him know she expected a lot more out of him, but was horrible in public, treating waiters and waitresses, salespeople, or anyone
she felt was there to “serve” her as beneath her even when things were okay.
She was famous for blowing minor mishaps out of proportion and complaining to people even higher up because she hadn’t gotten her way, eventually causing Donovan to risk her wrath by insisting he not go anywhere in public with her anymore. You should never have to put up with the embarrassment caused by being seen in public with a petty loved one who demands perfection and/or to be treated almost like royalty. Often, these types of abusers seldom or never accept responsibility for their own faults, or try to justify them with weak
excuses they often seem to repeat yet do little or nothing to correct.
18) It’s up to you to support them.
Donovan’s mom made him start working at age sixteen not because they needed
money to get by, but because she wanted more money for herself and knew she’d
be able to easily take what he earned from him. She called it “rent”, but he
was aware of how she allowed their aging home to fall apart around them while still buying jewelry and fancy clothes and expensive collectibles for herself. He would take home $125 a week, and she’d demand $100 each week for this so-called “rent”. In this manner she also ensured he could never save up enough money to enable himself to move out and support himself. She expected him to shop with her, eventually turning the chore of shopping over to him entirely, seldom chipping in for gas or groceries herself. She stopped doing anything for birthdays or holidays, leaving it up to him to prepare a meal or decorate if he wanted to do anything special at all. He even started to have to make his own birthday cakes after awhile when nobody else made one for him or even bought one pre-made. He was taught, then expected to do the laundry and clean the house. It was up to him to take care of all the household pets. His mother went from being a constant busy-bee to coming from work and laying
around watching TV ‘til she fell asleep, expecting her son to take care of everything else around her. And, of course, she made it clear that nothing he ever did for her was ever done to her satisfaction. When he left home to live with Gloria, Don again was expected to clean her room and bathroom, then later the whole apartment once they’d found a place of their own. She expected him to buy her the expensive foods she “was accustomed to” and even prepare them for her. It was up to him to do the laundry and entertain company. After awhile, he was paying two thirds of the utilities and rent and all of the grocery bill, yet was still being asked to loan Gloria and their lazy, alcoholic roommate money. The last time he paid the rent at their apartment, Gloria claimed she didn’t have it because she’d loaned her share to the roommate who hadn’t paid her back, so he obviously didn’t have his share of expenses, either, Don had to gather a number of his belongings and pawn them just to have enough money to cover the rent alone. First of all, a child--a minor, should never have to pay “rent” to live with their own parents particularly if the money is not being used for household
maintenance or other expenses. In a poverty situation, it may make sense to
have a child help provide extra income. In Donovan’s situation, his mother was
very vain and materialistic, so his money went straight to her frivolous
desires. Gloria was used to not paying rent and having money to spend on comic
books and pizza and video games, CDs and movies, or anything else she wanted
to spoil herself with. When she suddenly had to start paying rent, she needed extra cash for her preferred lifestyle, so skimped out on a few of the bills and constantly borrowed money from Donovan. Don resented giving his mother money, but had no qualms over giving Gloria money because he “loved” her and wished to maintain her happiness.
19) They’re unwilling to discuss relationship problems with you.
Don tried very hard as a child to understand why he was constantly being
punished. When he tried asking his parents why they often struck him and
treated him poorly, the responses he generally got were, ”That’s just the way
it is.” “I’m the adult and you’re the child, that’s why.” “There are kids out
there a lot worse off than you.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’re too young to understand.” “Because I love you.” So, Donovan came to equate physical pain, mental anguish and confusion with love. When he grew older, he tried using books, movies, and even music to explain how he felt and perceived things, but was just looked at like he was weird. The clothes-hangar scene in the film “Mommy Dearest” struck a chord with him, as his own mother once beat him with hangars after asking him to find some as a child while she
was ironing, and all he could turn up were a few plastic ones. All of the
metal hangars in the house were being used, but they were what she had wanted,
so she snatched the hangars from his hands and proceeded to beat him with them while screaming at him. As he grew older and discerned that attempts to
discuss family problems in a calm and reasonable manner only created more
trouble for him, he learned to withdraw and use simple avoidance to try and
keep things calm. Gloria, on the other hand, would listen, then pat his hand
and shake her head as if in sympathy, then ignore everything he had said. She
excused her behavior as the result of stress she experienced and her own
unstable past. She and his mother either ignored Donovan’s complaints or used lame excuses to justify why things were the way they were. On a rare few
occasions, things might improve briefly, but ultimately would return to
miserable and continue declining from there.
20) They claim you’re the abuser! They’ve had it so much worse than you!
Gloria tried this with Donovan. He bent to her will until he recognized finally that he was breaking, and when he tried to take control of the relationship himself, Gloria accused him of being bossy and irritable and impossible to deal with. She’d just walk out on him if he tried to hold conversations with her. She claimed he was insensitive to her feelings (despite yelling at him for being too sensitive up until then). If he asked where she’d gone after returning home in the morning after being out all night, she’d tell him she was an adult and didn’t have to tell him anything. She tried turning the tables on him and using guilt to keep control. It’s your fault the other person is so stressed, and you’re so insensitive to suggest there’s something wrong with them! You are the reason they act the way they do! You make them crazy! Then how come you’re the one who’s confused and maybe
living in fear while they’re the ones doing all the screaming and yelling?
This trick is particularly effective because you may know what it’s like to be long abused, and they’re trying to make you bow down to their will by making you feel for them. It’s an ugly trick that wears off fast, and then you just get sick of listening to it every time you try and discuss things.
Like many of us, Don was blinded by his love. He mistook obedience for loyalty, fear for respect, and lust for love. Many young or inexperienced people make these mistakes every day, and many never see or even admit the error for years, allowing damage to settle in and reshape their ways. In Gene Brewer’s book, On A Beam Of Light, the sequel to K-PAX, there’s a mention of how much better off we’d all be if we were raised by someone other than our parents. Without parents, the psychiatric load would probably be greatly diminished. Parents are quick to deny they have anything to do with their kids’ problems, yet most of us can trace our own personal problems back to our parents. I know wonderful kids who grew up in wonderful, loving households (though very, very few) who grow up expecting life to just unfold for them they way they’ve always imagined it only to saddle up with a formerly abused spouse or abusive spouse, and watch their dreams go down in flames as they suddenly experience stress and begin to react subconsciously to it in negative ways. If so many people are abused, then why can’t we recognize it more readily and deal with it? Because so many of us grew up thinking that some or all of what we were experiencing was normal or okay, that our abuser really loves us, thus we share what we’ve gained with others and react poorly when it’s not well received.
Most of us are aware of how the stereotypical kids of the fifties, forties, and earlier seemed almost too good--wearing perfectly fitted clothes, keeping clean while playing, obeying Mom or Dad or Nan, staying quiet and out of the way. These kids grew into our parents and grandparents, and many now seem old-fashioned and almost strict in their ideals. It was not uncommon to strike or spank children who misbehaved in those days. You may have heard of being sent for a “switch”, or being taken behind the woodshed for a beating, or children deemed too wild who were tethered to their furniture or kept mostly locked away in rooms or closets. Sometime around the sixties and seventies
thinking changed and it was deemed abusive to smack a child at all. Strict
household rules were relaxed and children were allowed to behave like children and not prim and proper little ladies and little men. The deviation between the two basic methods of child rearing were drastic, throwing goody-two-shoes kids who’d get a lickin’ for naughtiness in with wild-child kids who were allowed to learn and explore at their own paces, learning more from experience than parental guidance.
Every child is different, so it makes sense that different child rearing
techniques work differently for different kids. The problem is discovering what kids will do best with what influences and how to discern if you’re taking things too far in any direction. I define an abused pet as one that cowers or stiffens when its owner is near. A loved animal is often excited or at least will appear content. I cowered as a child--from everybody. As I grew older and more resentful of my treatment I began to stiffen and seem cold. I was known for my obedience in public. People often marveled at how mannerly I was. Visitors seemed impressed when I played quietly alone or served them food
or drink. I had those “old fashioned” ways about me like the ones instilled in
my own parents when they were kids. While they became shallow socialites as
adults, I have become aloof, observant, quiet, easy-going, using humor as my
weapon and shield to lighten uncomfortable situations. You have no idea how grateful I am to be nothing like my parents. Of the two of them, my father treated me the better, but he was almost never there for me. Some kids react the opposite way, becoming wilder and more rebellious as they age. I’m unable to understand how they managed that, yet I envy their daring ways. I even went to school with a girl who bragged of beating her parents into submission. She was twelve and would strike them and berate them if they displeased her. Was she abused originally? What strange twist of fate had occurred there? In my experience, the parents of wild kids invariably fall into one of two categories: assholes and sheep. Sometimes both parents are assholes or sheep,
sometimes you get one of each. I can only really explain abuse and its effects from my own point of view, so aside from flying airplanes or target shooting, I’m really hardly wild or rebellious at all. I wish I could tell you how to control your abusive ways or deal with the abuse you may have suffered, but I’m still far from over my own experiences, so the best I can do is offer some hope from a few sources I’ve been checking out.
Adult Children Of Abusive Parents by Steven Farmer
A great book for identifying abuse in your life and helping you discern in
what ways it has affected you. It deals mainly with childhood situations, but
also offers suggestions for how to deal with the abuse in your life once you’ve achieved adulthood.
HelpGuide is a very easy to use website helping people identify a number of
personal problems and makes suggestions on how to get help.
Grant Me The Serenity...Resource Directory offers sources for discussion and relief of abuse and the symptoms of various kinds of abuse.
1-800-962-2873 The Abuse Hotline
Get quick, live suggestions on how to deal with abuse in your life.
1-800-843-5678 National Center For Missing And Exploited Children
1-800-SUICIDE Suicide Prevention/National Hopeline Network
Girls And Boys Town is a great resource for kids and teens who feel like they
have no one they can talk to about problems at home or just in their lives in general. Talk live on the phone, or visit their website and chat live for
Nearly any book by Leo Buscaglia should be a wonderful tool to start inner
healing and help abuse victims see hope and view the world in a better light.
Check your local library, the phone book, or the Internet for more possible
resources. Your local Health Department should be able to direct you to free
or low-cost mental health groups or counseling.
Invaluable in domestic violence including sexual assault or abuse and physical assault or abuse. Call 911 in an emergency situation, or during an abusive event when you’re ready to press charges, otherwise you may only end up inflaming an already bad situation and still be within your abuser’s reach.
If you’re currently in an abusive relationship and your abuser won’t listen or respond to reason, then you need to seek some kind of help. You can try discussing your problems with a religious leader in your community, a friend or relative, a teacher, a counselor or boss. I’ve received sympathy in my own quests for peace, and I’ve also received ridicule or been confronted with total disbelief. The Life Crisis Hotline I used to call when I was younger told me to go stay with a friend or relative...and I had neither close by at the time. They suggested I seek psychiatric counseling, though I had no means to pay for it. They suggested I get my mother involved with psychiatric counseling--a frightening prospect since she was sure to become angry at such a suggestion. The few people who’ve been considerate of my feelings tend to have come from abusive relationships themselves and the best advice any of them have given me is to just get out of the situation completely. It’s a scary notion for many of us who may fear loneliness or homelessness or simply are too young to leave on their own. Only after you’ve escaped can your situation improve if your abuser refuses to seek help with you or for themselves. Escape alone is not the cure, I’m afraid, ‘cause as I mentioned, you’ve been brainwashed, and are likely to either begin abusing someone else yourself, begin abusing yourself, or keep behaving submissively and allowing others to abuse you.
The best relationships involve honest, open communication. Ideas are
expressed, other people’s reactions are plugged into the equation, joint
decisions are made, there’s planning and thinking ahead, there is no physical
violence perpetuated by emotion, understandings are reached even when not all parties completely agree. There is guidance, but not control. There are
suggestions, but almost no demands. Problems are dealt with until they are
resolved or a compromise can be reached, and not allowed to fester into
something worse. It’s said if you think you are abused, you are. If you’re
uncertain, then you probably are. Never return abuse with abuse. It’s important to try and treat others the way you wish to be treated and keep in mind that you never know what’s going through anybody else’s head at any given
time. I know this is basically a list of ideals, but the point is not so much
to achieve them as it is to practice them. A wonderful woman I know signs off
all of her emails with, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
If you’re still not sure if you’re being abused or not, trying asking your
friends, co-workers or relatives. Friends of mine made it a point to mention that while they sometimes argued in their relationships, they didn’t argue so often as my ex and I seemed to. An aunt attempted to take me to live with her when I was younger, but after discussing it with her sister it never happened and they stopped talking afterward for a couple of years. If people meet your significant other and make comments like, “Is she always like that?” “What’s with her?” “Do you always put up with that?” “Better you than me.” “Is she on
medication?” that should be a big hint there may be problems brewing. If people pull you aside and offer you use of their couches as temporary shelter,
or keep telling you to dump the other person, that you married too young or
for the wrong reasons, you need a vacation--away from her, or ask why you
bother staying together, then there may be some problems in your relationship.
If your friends enjoy standing up to your loved one, provoking them for fun,
or try to exclude them from activities with you--there’s a problem. If your
family members keep looking at you plaintively while he or she is around,
shake their heads, roll their eyes, ask you to control your wife, try and get
you to distract her just to try and calm her down... If you’re embarrassed to go out with them in public, if you know you actually fear them, if you find
yourself withdrawing... If you give more of yourself for them than to yourself to keep them “happy”, if you find yourself wanting more and more time apart from them, if you start thinking the grass must be greener somewhere... Not all of the information here indicates clear abuse, I’m afraid, and there are always abusers who like to turn articles like this around and use them against the people they abuse. You are the only person who can determine if you’re being abused or not, but it may take professional resources to help you determine to what degree and what may need to be done to correct it.
Thanks for reading this lengthy, rather unpleasant article. I wish all of you
well in your journies through life and may you all learn life’s lessons swiftly and well. Good luck!