The abusive man:
- Quickly uses the “L” word. How, you say, is uttering, “I love you” abusive?? While it seems like an idyllic scene from a romantic movie when your new lover uses those oh so sweet words shortly after meeting you, abusive men actually use this technique to “hook you” so that you will fall in love with who they are portraying themselves as. Once they know they “have you” by describing a fairy tale future for the two of you, suddenly, they become a different person-often a very nasty one. Interestingly, that “other person” is the real them, and all declarations of love were nothing more than a deceitful sham to sweep you off of your feet. Why would any girl in her right mind stay with the nasty person a man has become? It all goes back to hoping he will change, and thinking that the nice person he was in the beginning will again return someday. The abuse cycle, which we will get into, furthers this optimism. Please heed this red flag, ladies, because anyone who is entering a healthy relationship knows that an “I love you” worthy relationship takes significant time to develop and grow.
- Makes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells. The abusive man’s terrifying temper will likely be evident from very early on in the relationship, but it usually isn’t initially used on you-as I said, initially. The abusive man may exhibit road rage, make demeaning comments about other women, may treat salespeople and restaurant staff rudely, may get into fist fights with others, may kick walls, objects, pets, etc. While you may not have directly been in the abusive man’s line of fire, you will, inside, worry that whatever you do or say will set him off. Since it is typical for the abusive man to lower your self-esteem and confidence and blame everything (no matter what it is) on you, this will further your anxiety and make you feel like every day is spent walking on eggshells, carefully, as not to upset the abusive man.
- Controls you through his emotions. Believe it or not, abuse does not have to be verbal or physical, although both are often involved. The abusive man may make it known that several of your activities are not acceptable by being passive aggressive. For example, in addition to verbally making you feel bad about it, the abusive man may give you the silent treatment or pout for hours after you return from seeing a movie with girlfriends, ultimately making you feel guilty about a perfectly normal and healthy social activity. Other aspects of the abusive man’s controlling behavior are going through your mail, your cell phone, checking mileage on your car, going through your purse, questioning you repeatedly, and even following you.
- Feels entitled to be treated like a king. The abusive man goes through life feeling as if he can (and will) do whatever it is that he wants. He rationalizes every bit of his bad behavior by blaming others, and treats you like whatever you do is just never good enough for him. After constantly pushing to please your man and always failing, you start to believe that you aren’t “good enough” for him, which furthers his sense of entitlement and his control over you, as well. With diminished self-esteem, you may start to accept and feel you deserve ridiculous punishments the abusive man imposes.
- Has a bad reputation. Take note of the abusive man’s friends. Does he have close friends or just casual friends? If he has close friends, do those friends exhibit abusive/loser/aggressive behavior, as well? Healthy, normal individuals will not put up with the often out of control behaviors of the abusive man, and he will therefore lack good, solid friendships. Sometimes, the behaviors of a man’s friends reflect his own personality traits and characteristics. In addition, you may hear stories from former friends describing tales of the abusive man’s terrible temper or facts about the horrible way he treated former girlfriends. Beware of these stories, and beware of the ones that the abusive man tells himself, since his own sense of entitlement and mega-ego mean that he sees nothing wrong with aggression or violence and will rat himself out in the sagas he tells.
- Doesn’t want to break up. During an abusive man’s nasty cycle or when a girl has had enough, she may decide to break up with the abusive man, just to find that the abusive man suddenly reverts back to the nice person he was in the very beginning. There may be incessant, pleading phone calls, the offering of romantic vacations and even marriage, flowers delivered daily, promises of change, and hearing, “I can’t live without you.” The abusive man will beg for, “just one more chance” and will tell you how important you are to him and how much he loves you. If the abusive man is taken back, what has been dubbed the “honeymoon period” will ensue; just to be followed by his usual, abusive patterns of hot and cold/Jekyll & Hyde in the future.
- Is rough with you. While some abusive men have been known to inflict serious physical harm upon their partner, physical abuse doesn’t always start off with a punch in the face, and can be more subtle in the forms of yanking on your arm, pulling your hair, roughly grabbing your chin with their hand, or pushing you. The cruelty may start off slowly before slapping or kicking takes place, but you can rest assured that even if a boyfriend lays his hands on you just one time, that he will do it again.
If your boyfriend exhibits just one of these red flags of impending abuse, be sure to drop him immediately, for your own emotional and physical health, or contact your local Women’s Center for information on how to break away. Remember, there are no guarantees that a man demonstrating abusive qualities will not hurt you since, on average, more than 3 women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands in the United States daily (EndAbuse.org, 2007).
Furthermore, if your boyfriend displays signs of simply being a bad boyfriend, ladies, you deserve better and can get better. Women, let’s empower ourselves by vowing never to be victims, especially not victims of the men in our lives.