Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It feels important to share here a list of warning signs that you may be in an abusive relationship. Does he want to be with you constantly? Accuse of you cheating? Follow you? Call far too often?
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Just gonna stand there and watch me burn / that's alright because I like the way it hurts...

That's the refrain that Rihanna sings in her collaboration with Eminem. According to USA Today, "Rihanna defends it as 'authentic and real,' in an interview with Access Hollywood."

This is not the authentic gift to give our girls. Not when you read the grim statistics in Domestic Violence Fatalities and Homicides/Fatality Review.

Right now, I'm thinking about the character of the mother in my book, "The Murderer's Daughters" and about my mother. She never read "The Murderer's Daughters," which may be a blessing, as the story is a 300-page speculation about my father's attempt to kill her. My mother lived. But Celeste, the mother in my book, dies, as do so many women--leaving sons and daughters all over the world effectively orphaned, just as my characters Lulu and Merry are.

With that in mind, after reading those lyrics, it feels important to share here a list of warning signs that you may be in an abusive relationship--remembering that though these warnings are written in the guise of straight man/straight woman, abuse knows no gender or sexual preference boundaries.

Jealousy: Does he want to be with you constantly? Accuse of you cheating? Follow you? Call far too often?

Controlling Behavior: Does he become angry if you're late; always need to know who you were with, where you went, what you wore and what you said? Do you have to ask permission to do things? Does he want veto power over your friendships?

Instant Involvement: Be careful of a man who claims 'love at first sight' and says that you are the 'only one who can make him feel this way.' Be cautious of a man who pressures you for commitment too quickly, perhaps suggesting that you move in together or become engaged within six months of meeting.

Unrealistic Expectations: This may seem strange, but compliments that seem excessive are a warning sign. Beware those who see or expect perfection, and those who say, "you are all I need; I am all you need."

Isolation: Controlling and abusive men will try to cut off your resources and distance you from your friends and family, perhaps by telling you that your family doesn't love you or that you are too dependent on them. They will say your friends are stupid. They will keep you from the car, get angry when you talk on the phone, and make it difficult for you to go to school or work.

Blames Others for Problems: For controlling and abusive men, any problems they have at school or work are always someone else's fault. In the relationship, anything that goes wrong is because of you.

Blames Others for Feelings: Beware of men who make you feel responsible for how they feel, who see everything as a personal attack, are easily insulted and who have tantrums about the injustice of things that happen to them. Abusive men will look for fights, blow things out of proportion and overreact to small irritations.

Disrespectful or Cruel to Others: Dangerous men will punish animals and children cruelly. They are insensitive to pain and suffering and have expectations of children that surpass abilities. They tease children until they cry and treat people disrespectfully.

Use of Force During Sex: When men show little concern over whether you want sex or not and use sulking or anger to manipulate you into sexual compliance, this is a warning sign. Degrading sexual remarks about you should be taken as indication of a serious problem.

Rigid Sex Roles: Abusive men often believe that women are inferior to men and that a woman cannot be a whole person without a relationship.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: Beware of men who are nice one moment and explode the next, and men who have rapid and extreme mood swings.

Past Battering: Abusers will deny and minimize their past violence, saying it is a lie, or their ex is crazy, or that is wasn't that bad.

Breaking or Striking Objects: Violent men will break things, beat on tables, throw objects and use other methods to inspire fear.

Any Force during an Argument: No one should be physically restrained, pushed or shoved. Any use of weapons, kicking, hitting, slapping or other physical violence is abuse.

Let's all stay safe out there.

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