Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Separating the Wolves from the Sheep (Part 3)

Wouldn’t it be nice if abusive people wore nametags that announced their tendency to use others? If you Google “domestic violence” or “abuser traits, abuser profile,” you will discover lists that explain the telltale characteristics of someone who controls others for personal benefit. Of course, abusers do not want to tip you off; they work hard to appear as an innocent sheep during the dating period. To make the misdirection easier to maintain, most abusers are “fast movers” who push for quick commitments of exclusivity (proposing marriage or live-in arrangements). Dating an abuser often feels like you’ve entered a whirlwind.

I urge you to research abuser traits on the internet and in domestic violence books. The more informed you are, the better off you will be. In this post, I will focus on the traits that you are most likely to encounter in dating (some of the traits you won’t see until he feels secure that you are “his.”) If the new person in your life displays these danger signals, I strongly advice you end the relationship:

-Insecure to the point that he fishes almost continually for reassurance and approval. There are many insecure and low self-esteem people who are not abusers, but if multiple of the other signs are present then the insecurity is significant clue.
-Gives over-the –top compliments and gifts.
-Tells stories of being abused as a child or watching a parent being abused. His emotions about this seem raw and unprocessed.
-Tells stories that show a fascination with weapons or power. He may also tell stories of what he has done when he has been angry—in a bragging manner.
-Makes off-color or sexist comments on a frequent basis.
-Ignores your requests and boundaries. Pushes against your boundaries or walks on them (in the beginning it will be over “small matters” that you feel are not that big of a deal.
-Blames others for all of his problems.
-Drinks heavily or is a drug user. This is a separate problem but it is especially dangerous when combined with violence.
-Harsh or cruel with pets, friends, and/or friends.
-Exhibits a violent temper over “little” things. (Often this part is invisible while dating, but may be hinted at with stories of what he would do or what he thinks others should do in a frustrating situation.)
-Distrusts everyone, except you (for now).

Bottom line, we must pay attention. If you are frequently excusing or laughing off his/her words and behavior, it’s not a good sign. If you feel sorry for him or if you feel he needs you as a caregiver, then beware. Remember warning signs only benefit us—if we heed them.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft