DEAR ABBY by Abigail Van Buren
'WONDERFUL' RELATIONSHIP HAS BECOME A NIGHTMARE
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship for five years. It started out wonderful, but now I'm having second thoughts. He keeps putting my kids down and telling me I'm a bad mother. It's so bad he has even put a knife to my throat. And, yes, he hits me.
I am not an angel, but I always stand up for him and have his back. However, I don't see him having mine. There's so much more I could say, but I am scared if he knew I was writing to you it would end up bad for me. I need help, but I don't know what to do. He has isolated me from my family and friends. Please help me. -- LOST AND AFRAID IN THE EAST
DEAR LOST: The man you are involved with is a dangerous abuser. What you must do next, for the sake of yourself and your children, is quietly contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or visiting thehotline.org for help in formulating a safe escape plan.
It has been some time since I printed the Warning Signs of an Abuser. For anyone who hasn't seen this list, these are classic indicators. Read on:
(1) PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." An abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
(2) JEALOUS: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone"; checks the mileage on your car.
(3) CONTROLLING: If you are late, interrogates you intensively about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
(4) UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.
(5) ISOLATION: Tries to isolate you from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble." The abuser may deprive you of a phone or car, or try to prevent you from holding a job.
(6) BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS OR MISTAKES: It's always someone else's fault if something goes wrong.
(7) MAKES OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: The abuser says, "You make me angry" instead of "I am angry," or says, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."
(8) HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just a part of life.
(9) CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partners will also abuse children.
(10) "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.
(11) VERBAL ABUSE: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you with relentless verbal abuse.
(12) RIGID ROLE OF DOMINANCE: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
(13) SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
(14) PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person "made" him (or her) do it.
(15) THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, "I'll break your neck" or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way," or "I didn't really mean it."
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.