Dear Abby’s 15 ways to spot an abuser

Written on March 19, 2009 by David C. Sarnacki

Dear Abby’s Abigail van Buren lists 15 warning signs of an abuser (excerpt):
1. Pushes for quick involvement: Comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.” An abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.

2. Jealous: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone”; checks the mileage on your car.

3. Controlling: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.

4. Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.

5. Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble.” The abuser may deprive you of a phone or car or try to prevent you from holding a job.

6. Blames others for problems and mistakes: It’s always someone else’s fault if something goes wrong.

7. Holds others responsible for his or her feelings: The abuser says, “You make me angry,” instead of, “I am angry,” or says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.”

8. Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just a part of life.

9. Cruelty to animals or children: Kills or punishes animals brutally. May expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.

10. “Playful” use of force during sex: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.

11. Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you up with relentless verbal abuse.

12. Rigid gender roles: Expects you to serve, obey, remain at home.

13. Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to violent in a matter of minutes.

14. Past battering: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person made him (or her) do it.

15. Threats of violence: Says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “Everybody talks that way,” or “I didn’t really mean it.”

2 Responses to “Dear Abby’s 15 ways to spot an abuser”

  1. Khomotso said:

    this list is quiet spot on in terms of what i am going through, i am constantly accused of having affairs and just recently he threatened to break my spinal cord. He has no evidence of his accusations and he is extremely sensitive, i always have to watch what i say to him so don’t “hurt” his feelings. He is never wrong some of the things he doesn’t want me to do claiming it’s disrespectful he does to me. Now he has moved to calling me crazy saying that I am sick in the head, trying to make me feel like I screwed up and need help, when it’s him who has issues. I have a child with him, we’ve been married for for over six months, the families feels it will be an ambarrassment if I left the marriage, so now I have them to think about. I am slowly falling out of love with him, at times I feel so much hate for him. He has made my life miserable, it’s a torture being with him.

  2. have faith and courage said:

    I have lived this before. Eventually, I realized that my life was worth fighting for, my happiness was worth fighting for and my safety was worth fighting for, not to mention the happiness, safety and life that my child deserved and wasn’t getting. Leaving was scary because I feared for our lives. I did it anyway, because we were already getting harmed both physically and mentally and nothing said we wouldn’t be killed if we stayed. Years later and divorced, our life is free of the burdens that come with living with an abuser. To those that live this life, I pray you find your courage to leave and seek a new and better life for yourself and any others that may be affected by the abuse. God bless!

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