Spousal abuse and domestic violence are traps that can devastate your life. No one goes into a relationship expecting an abusive partner. I married a good Christian man who had huge control issues. I thought that with love and time he would repent and we would live happily ever after, but I was faced with the reality that angry people do not always change and the result is painful. After years of fasting and praying, as well as, Christian counseling, I tried accountability. I began to call the police after each abusive event and soon my husband grew tired of visiting the local jail and subsequently the court house to post bail and appear before the judge. Then, he let our house go into foreclosure and divorced me. Now, I can say, "Praise the LORD." But then, I was devastated. I lost everything, except the LORD, a few true friends and my family. I have started over.
Perhaps, somewhere in this story you see yourself. You may be at the beginning of this kind of relationship or at the end (ready to move on and find the help that you need to get out). Where ever you are—there is help!
Recognize a FOOL
The Bible clearly exposes a fool which includes angry, abusive people who stir up strife. Recognize a fool and make the healthy choice to avoid a relationship with him. You will be hurt. Your children will be hurt. Stay out! Get out! Protect yourself and your children.
Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about abusive people. Educate yourself about your city's abuse support systems. Contact a shelter. Get out!
- As he that ties a stone in a sling, so is he that gives honor to a fool. (Pro 26:8 KJV)
- He that is soon angry deals foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated. (Pro 14:17 KJV)
- Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shalt not go:
- Lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. (Pro 22:24-25 KJV)
- An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.
- A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit. (Pro 29:22-23 KJV)
- Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD ponders the hearts. (Pro 21:2 KJV)
- There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Pro 16:25 KJV)
Warning signs of an AbuserBefore an abuser starts physically assaulting his victim, he typically demonstrates his abusive tactics through certain behaviors. The following are five major warning signs and some common examples:
Abusers can be very charming. In the beginning, they may seem to be Prince Charming or a Knight in Shining Armor. He can be very engaging, thoughtful, considerate and charismatic. He may use that charm to gain very personal information about her. He will use that information later to his advantage.
Abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially. Geographic isolation includes moving the victim from her friends, family and support system (often hundreds of miles); moving frequently in the same area and/or relocating to a rural area.
Social isolation usually begins with wanting the woman to spend time with him and not her family, friends or co-workers. He will then slowly isolate her from any person who is a support to her. He dictates whom she can talk to; he tells her she cannot have contact with her friends or family.
Jealousy is a tool abusers use to control the victim. He constantly accuses her of having affairs. If she goes to the grocery store, he accuses her of having an affair with the grocery clerk. If she goes to the bank, he accuses her of having an affair with the bank teller. Abusers routinely call their victims whores or sluts.
Abusers are very controlled and very controlling people. In time, the abuser will control every aspect of the victim's life: where she goes, how she wears her hair, what clothes she wears, whom she talks to. He will control the money and access to money. Abusers are also very controlled people. While they appear to go into a rage or be out of control we know they are very much in control of their behavior.
- He does not batter other individuals - the boss who does not give him time off or the gas station attendant that spills gas down the side of his car. He waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
- If you ask an abused woman, "Can he stop when the phone rings or the police come to the door?" She will say "yes". Most often when the police show up, he is looking calm, cool and collected and she is the one who may look hysterical. If he were truly "out of control" he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
- The abuser very often escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks will not show. If he were "out of control" or "in a rage" he would not be able to direct or limit where his kicks or punches land.
In the Mind of the Abuser
Abusive people typically think they are unique, really so different from other people that they don't have to follow the same rules everyone else does. But rather than being unique, abusers have a lot in common with one another, including their patterns of thinking and behaving. The following are some of their characteristics.
Instead of accepting responsibility for his actions, the abuser tries to justify his behavior with excuses. For example: "My parents never loved me." or "My parents beat me." or "I had a bad day, and when I walked in and saw this mess, I lost my temper." or "I couldn't let her talk to me that way. There was nothing else I could do." or "My ex-wife turned my kids against me."
The abuser shifts responsibility for his actions away from himself and onto others, a shift that allows him to justify his abuse because the other person supposedly "caused" his behavior. For example: "If you would stay out of it while I am disciplining the kids, I could do it without hitting them." Or he may say, "She pushes my buttons." Statements like this are victim blaming.
In a variation on the tactic of blaming, the abuser redefines the situation so that the problem is not with him but with others or with the outside world in general. For example, the abuser doesn't come home for dinner at 6 p.m. as he said he would; he comes home at 4 a.m. He says, "You're an awful cook anyway. Why should I come home to eat that stuff? I bet the kids wouldn't even eat it."
The abuser believes he would be rich, famous, or extremely successful if only other people weren't "holding me back." He uses this belief to justify his abuse. The abuser also puts other people down verbally as a way of making himself look superior.
The abuser controls the situation by lying to control the information available. The abuser also may use lying to keep other people, including his victim, off-balance psychologically. For example, he tries to appear truthful when he's lying, he tries to look deceitful even when he's telling the truth, and sometimes he reveals himself in an obvious lie.
Abusive people often assume they know what others are thinking or feeling. Their assumption allows them to justify their behavior because they "know" what the other person would think or do in a given situation. For example, "I knew you'd be mad because I went out for a beer after work, so I figured I might as well stay out and enjoy myself."
Above the Rules
As mentioned earlier, an abuser generally believes he is better than other people and so does not have to follow the rules that ordinary people do. That attitude is typical of convicted criminals, too. Each inmate in a jail typically believes that while all the other inmates are criminals, he himself is not. An abuser shows "above-the-rules" thinking when he says, for example, 'I don't need batterer intervention. I'm different than those other men. Nobody has the right to question what I do in my family."
Making Fools of Others
The abuser combines tactics to manipulate others. The tactics include lying, upsetting the other person just to watch his or her reactions, and encouraging a fight between or among others. Or, he may try to charm the person he wants to manipulate, pretending a lot of interest or concern for that person in order to get on her or his good side.
The abuser usually keeps his abusive behavior separate from the rest of his life. The separation is physical; for example, he will beat up family members but not people outside his home. The separation is psychological; for example, the abuser attends church Sunday morning and beats his wife Sunday night. He sees no inconsistency in his behavior and feels justified in it.
Abusive people are not actually angrier than other people. However, they deliberately appear to be angry in order to control situations and people.
The abuser uses various tactics to power trip others. For instance, he walks out of the room when the victim is talking, or out-shouts the victim, or organizes other family members or associates to "gang up" on the victim in shunning or criticizing her.
Occasionally the abuser will pretend to be helpless or will act persecuted in order to manipulate others into helping him. Here, the abuser thinks that if he doesn't get what he wants, he is the victim; and he uses the disguise of victim to get back at or make fools of others. Abusers will often claim to be the victim in order to avoid being held accountable by law enforcement. He may assert she was the one who was violent. He will display what are clearly defensive wounds, such as bite marks or scratch marks, and claim she "attacked" him. Or he will declare that the physical marks on her were caused when he was trying to keep her from hurting herself.
Drama and Excitement
Abusive people often make the choice not to have close relationships with other people. They substitute drama and excitement for closeness. Abusive people find it exciting to watch others get angry, get into fights, or be in a state of general uproar. Often, they'll use a combination of tactics described earlier to set up a dramatic and exciting situation.
The abuser typically is very possessive. Moreover, he believes that anything he wants should be his, and he can do as he pleases with anything that is his. That attitude applies to people as well as to possessions. It justifies his controlling behavior, physically hurting others, and taking things that belong to them.
The abuser usually thinks of himself as strong, superior, independent, self-sufficient, and very masculine. His picture of the ideal man often is the cowboy or adventurer type. When anyone says or does anything that doesn't fit his glorified self-image, the abuser takes it as an insult.