It's easy to look at the unauthorized picture of Rihanna and hear the alleged physical abuse accusations being leveled at Chris Brown and see "abuse." But an abusive relationship can really cover much bigger territory than just physical behaviors. Relationship abuse can also include: emotional, psychological, financial, sexual elements and threats, isolation and intimidation are serious forms of abuse - even in the absence of actual physical harm.
It is so easy to allow evidence of these behaviors to happen and justify them - especially in the presence of tough economic times. Certainly individuals who come from abusive homes may use those learned behaviors as their own yardsticks and assume the behavior is "normal." But there is really no justification for relationship abuse. And the longer you remain with a partner who shows signs of verbal coercive behaviors, the more at risk you are for escalation of those behaviors into more threatening and even physical violence.
It's important to understand that it is not your fault - and you are not the actual reason for your partner's abusive behavior. It is not caused by alcohol or drugs, though use of these substances can amplify abusive behaviors already in place. What is important is for you to identify signs of an abusive relationship so that you can get help before you are permanetly hurt.
Does your partner or friend:
(1) Use coercion and threats - saying you'll be hurt, reported to authorities, make sure your children are taken away, make sure "you get in trouble."
(2) Use intimidation - smash things in your presence, wave a fist in your face, display weapons
(3) Use emotional abuse - put you down, make you feel bad, humiliate you
(4) Use isolation - controlling whom you see and talk to
(5) Minimize/deny blame - make light of what is being done to you or saying that it's your fault
(6) Use your children as a weapon
(7) Overpower you - use you as a servant
(8) Use economic control unreasonably - keep you from getting a job, from having any money to use directly
We all know that every partner you introduce to your family or friends may not be considered a "winner." That is a different situation than being told by your close circle that they fear for you; that your partner scares them; that you need to "get out now." Family and friends are not usually clouded by the emotional screens we have when we are in love, so they can be a bit more objective when it comes to signs that a relationship may be abusive and downright dangerous.
It is not cool to be abused and the life you put at risk is often not your own - it may be children or other family members. Let the message of Rihanna be that domestic violence is unacceptable. Get help from someone - your local church, a doctor or other health professional, the police or any one of the many organizations online and in your community. So you do not become another face of abuse.
Published On: March 04, 2009