There is no “look” to Domestic violence and no particular “appearance” that an abuser has. You cannot tell by looking at someone who is being abused and who is abusing another person. Many abusers are extremely charming people and direct their abusive behavior only on the person they are most intimate with. Most people being abused do not have black eyes and bloody lips and broken bones. Many are students in your class and professional men and women who are both inflicting and receiving the abuse. Abuse extends across all social, financial and ethnic classes. It can happen to anybody. I came from a solid family structure, my parents are still happily married after 43 years, I am educated with a professional degree, financially independent and owned my own home, I have a loving family and supportive friends and my life was full when I met my now ex husband. Prior to dating my husband I had dated many nice men over the years, however, my ex husband was extremely charming. Looking back, I now recognize the subtle red flags. They were subtle, but they were there. They became explosive two weeks after we married. The problem with violent relationships is that most do not start out that way. Most abusive men are extremely charming. These men know how to behave well, not because it is in their character, but because they have mastered their charm in order to manipulate and control. The potential for violence can be easily missed. Know what to look for:
- His is indifferent to your pain and lacks concern.
- He refuses to acknowledge your feelings and desires. He makes all of the decisions in your relationship.
- He is jealous.
- He lies.
- He manipulates your time and convinces you to cancel your plans with others, thus isolating you.
- He makes demeaning “jokes” about you in the form of “teasing.”
- He blames you and others for his problems. He refuses to admit his faults.
- You are the one who “has to change.”
- He has mood swings or screams.
- Your relationship appears to be on his terms and he comes and goes at his own convenience.
- He may frequently cancel plans with you. You are often left wondering where he is.
- He is self centered. It is more about “I” instead of “we.”
- He apologizes, but doesn’t change his behavior that he is apologizing for.
- He avoids closeness.
If you have spent a significant amount of time with someone, but you still feel emotionally distant, something is wrong. Your feelings are there to guide you. They act as a compass. Listen to them early on before you become too invested in the relationship.
The right person in our life will accept us and build us up rather than break us down. They are honest and their presence in our life will draw us closer to God rather than away. Each person provides mutual respect and support to the other and each feels valued in the relationship. If we are able to share our thoughts and feelings and communicate about problems then we may be onto something good. I encourage all of us to trust others, but check in with ourselves throughout the relationship. When we are in the right relationship we can trust the other person with our heart. Our heart is safe with them.