You've met someone, and it seems to be going well. As time goes on their behavior changes, nothing bad but different, somewhat controlling.
In the beginning of a relationship, these behaviors will be "explained" by the batterer as "love and concern." As the relationship progresses, the behaviors become more obvious. They serve to establish and maintain power over a victim, while at the same time attempting to control them. People need to pay attention whether or not they are becoming involved with an abuser.
Anyone can be abused or be an abuser. The majority of incidents occur with men beating women, but women also abuse men. Abuse is not limited to heterosexual relationships; same sex relationships also have violent incidents. Domestic violence can be inflicted on anyone no matter their age, gender, sexual orientation, economic level, race, etc. The following is a list of batterers' behaviors. Some batterers will only exhibit one or two of these behaviors, but they may be very extreme when they do.
SWIFT/SUDDEN ATTACHMENT: The victim is made to feel like they are the "only one" in the batterer's life. Guilt is used to keep the victim in the relationship. The batterer makes the victim feel like they "can't live without them." A commitment such as marriage, engagement or living together happens in usually less than six months after meeting.
DOMINATING BEHAVIOR: In the beginning of the relationship, the batterer will validate their behavior by saying it is because he/she is concerned for the victim's safety. The batterer will become angry if the victim is "late" returning from being out, asking many questions. This can worsen to the point where the victim will not be able to leave the house without "permission" and will lose control of finances.
ISOLATE THE VICTIM: The victim is cut off from everything and everyone. Any and all contact with family members is slowly ended, stating that the family is causing problems in the relationship. The batterer will make it so the victim has to rely on them for everything - money, transportation, etc.
JEALOUSY: An abuser will state that jealousy means love; but this is never true. The abuser will keep track of who the victim talks to. Constant texting and calling to check up on the victim will begin. If the victim spends time with family and friends, they will feel threatened and become even more possessive. The behavior can escalate to the point where the time on receipts is checked to make sure they came right home to keeping track of car mileage.
INSULTS: The abuser degrades the victim, calling them names, swearing at them, making the victim feel like they are not worth anything.The batterer will tell the victim that they are stupid and cannot live without them.
HISTORY OF ABUSING: The abuser may admit that they have hit a significant other in the past, but that it was in response to what the person did to them. If you are told from relatives or ex-spouses/girlfriends that the person is abusive, believe it. A batterer will beat anyone they are involved with if they feel control is being lost.
MOOD SWINGS: It is thought that because abusers have sudden changes in mood that they may have mental issues. One minute they are sweet or nice, almost playful, and the next minute the victim is scared for their life. This type of behavior is typical of batterers and leaves victims on edge and "behaving."
VERBAL INTIMIDATION: It is not normal to be told, "I'll punch you in the mouth" or "I'll kill you if you do that again," even though an abuser will say that this is common in relationships. These types of comments and threats are used to control the victim.
ANY PHYSICAL CONTACT DURING A DISPUTE: Verbal intimidation is threatening enough, but when someone physically holds you against your will or keeps you from leaving if you want to leave, this is a red flag that physical abuse will follow.
BREAKING OR HITTING OBJECTS: An abuser uses this to manipulate the victim into giving in. The batterer will break a cherished possession of the victim's, thinking it will cause them to "behave." Quite often objects will be thrown around or near the victim, again for control. This type of behavior is very dangerous because the batterer believes his behavior is justified and that the victim deserves it.
These are just a few signs of a potential batterer. If a person has several of these behaviors (three or more) there is likelihood for physical violence. The more signs a person has, the more likely the person is a batterer. In some cases there may be only a couple of behaviors that are recognized, but yet are strong in nature, and therefore the potential is still there.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Chautauqua County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has a variety of awareness activities scheduled throughout the month. If you would like to request an educational in-service training regarding domestic violence in the workplace or more information on available services, please contact Project Crossroads at 483-7718. For additional services, you may also contact The Salvation Army Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-252-8748 or Family Service of the Chautauqua Region at 488-1971.