Last week, I walked into a local bank in need of financial assistance with my organization’s account. I was shown to a soft-spoken woman named Sara, who was personable and inquisitive about the work that my company, Beauty Cares, does. Within moments of describing our abuse prevention program, she poured out a horrific story of dating violence she’d experienced as a young adult.
Sara’s boyfriend at the time was from a “very good family” – he was educated and handsome, and he drove a brand new BMW. But he was also so jealous that after only a few months, he began combing through Sara’s text messages, yelling at her for interacting with male co-workers, falsely accusing her of cheating, and flipping out when she looked at other cars. That’s right… other cars. He accused her of scanning the luxury vehicles nearby for someone better. It wasn’t long before he hit her. His third violent outburst resulted in a gash in Sara’s forehead so deep that it required stitches.
I created the following list because all the stories of intimate partner abuse that I’ve heard have one universal similarly: the victims blame themselves, thinking they should have known better. If you haven’t seen this list before – if you haven’t been informed about the signs of an abusive relationship – you couldn’t have known better. Learn these eight signs and empower yourself to take a stand against abuse:
Someone you just met exhibits the following behavior: lying or exaggerating, insisting you move in/get married/have kids immediately, trying to win over friends and family, over the top gestures like expensive gifts/dates, extreme love letters, sweeping you off your feet, bombarding you with texts and emails, behaving obsessively and non stop calls.
Behaving irrationally when you get a promotion, job or new friend, becoming angry when you speak to the opposite sex, persistently accusing you of cheating, resenting your time with friends, family, coworkers or activities, demanding to know private details of your life.
Telling you how to dress, when to speak or what to think, showing up uninvited at your home, school, or job, checking your cell phone, emails, Facebook, going through your belongings, timing/following you, controlling/withholding money, sexually coercing you.
Insisting you only spend time with them, making you emotionally, psychologically or financially dependent, preventing you from seeing your friends, family or children, forbidding you from going anywhere or speaking to anyone, keeping you home.
Calling you overweight, ugly, stupid or crazy, ridiculing your beliefs, ambitions or friends, claiming they’re the only one who really cares about you, making you feel bad about yourself, brainwashing you to feel worthless, accusing you of being a bad parent.
Making you miss work or school by starting a fight or having a meltdown, being needy when you’re busy or doing well, making you believe you’re crazy, alone or helpless, hiding your money, keys or phone, stealing your belongings, destroying your self-esteem.
Making you feel guilty and responsible for their aggressive or destructive behavior, blaming the world or you for their problems, always saying, “This is your fault” or “You made me do this.”
Overreacting to small problems, frequently losing control, violent outbursts or severe mood swings, drinking excessively when upset, threatening to hurt you or loved ones, picking fights, having a history of violent behavior and making you feel afraid.
There is no justification for abuse. If your partner either threatens or does physically assault you, which includes shoving or pushing, it will only get worse. Inform the authorities, tell your friends or family, and call the national domestic abuse hotline immediately. There are many people who care and want to help you. FOR HELP: 1-800-799-SAFE
If any of these signs have impacted your life, Beauty Cares would like to hear from you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.