By: Michelle Dierna
Abusive Relationships take many shapes and forms. The most commonly known forms of abuse are verbal and physical but there are other kinds as well. In romantically abusive relationships, usually the abuser yearns to have a sense of control and power in the relationship. Many abusers have similar behavior patterns and characteristic traits that can be recognized as “red flags”. It is highly important to recognize the “red flags” if you feel you might be in an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships, no matter what form, can be extremely harmful to a person’s self-esteem, often causing one to question one’s sense of identity. There is also the strong overlapping issue of someone constantly trying to control a victims thoughts and actions. This results in the abuser punishing the victim are verbally and/or physically abusive.
Some abusers share these traits:
- Charismatic & Charming: It may shock some, but many abuser can at first, come across as very charming and charismatic, both widely attractive features. The abuser usually projects himself/herself as the ideal mate, courting the other individual by showering them with compliments, admiration, even with sentimental gifts. All of these “charming” approaches are smothered onto the person the abuser is trying to court. This can lure any person into starting a romantic relationship if they feel these signs of affection are authentic.
- Manipulative and Controlling: Most abusers use the skills of manipulation and control. Both are innate characteristic traits of abusers. This may possibly be due to the fact that the abuser has often been the victim of abuse. People that have abusive tendencies, usually learned by seeing, hearing or experiencing abuse in their past. This might help us understand certain behaviors of abusers, but absolutely does not excuse it. These behaviors can potentially become dangerous.
Usually a person who is manipulative will control the more “submissive” individual by observing and taking advantage of “weak” and “vulnerable” areas of the other person. For example: ” Your dad left you because you have extreme anger issues and now I have to deal with it, because no one else will”. This is the point when power fuels the dynamic of the relationship into an unhealthy relationship. One person in the relationship obtains more authority which makes them believe they can set the boundaries and place rules as to what is right and wrong in the relationship. This bias is usually towards themselves. The victim of a master manipulator will either detect these behaviors at first and leave the toxic situation or give the abuser exactly the reaction he/she wants, by giving the abuser the satisfaction of having control.
- Narcissistic: In simple terms, the whole world revolves around a narcissistic person He or she is typically self-absorbed. It is hard to develop meaningful communication with a narcissistic person because the conversations are usually about his or her own feelings and his or her views and his or her interests. Someone who is narcissistic finds it hard entertain opinions other than their own. Thus, they tend to be more close minded than most people.
- Jealous and Aggressive: Many people in abusive relationships don’t realize the abuse; they grow scared or become comfortable in the cycle of abuse, feeling unworthy of their significant other. Jealousy is yet another way for the abuser to take control away from their significant other. Victims will get scrutinized over actions that may cause their partner-the abuser to feel jealous. People in healthy relationships fight and argue too, but abusive/ unhealthy relationships can be filled with words of discouragement and false accusations. What healthy relationships find petty, unhealthy relationships magnify. Insecurity plays a huge part in jealousy by abusers: if the abuser feels that he or she is losing authority and control over their partner they can escalate any situation fast. When the abuser has this feeling of entitlement, most likely because of narcissistic tendencies, it is not uncommon for jealousy to turn into rage that can lead to aggressive physical abuse.
Once a person touches you against your will or even threatens to, don’t ever take it lightly. If you are scared to leave your significant other, call a friend, a therapist or the police and discuss what happened immediately. Keep in mind that verbal abuse is no better than physical abuse; they both can intertwine quickly and the outcome could potentially be terrible. Thus, ask a few questions to yourself if you are unsure if you are in an abusive relationship and make sure to seek help as soon as possible.
*Some questions you can ask yourself:
1. Do you feel nervous or anxious around your partner?
2. Does he/she criticize and embarrass you in front of others?
3. Are you afraid of having a different opinion from that of your partner and voicing it?
4. Does your partner exhibit jealousy and accuse you of cheating or having an affair?
5. Does he or she threaten to hit you or harm you in any way?
6. Are you constantly criticized and made to feel that you cant live without your significant other?
Relationships can be extremely complex at time. Many woman and men stay in abusive relationships because they may feel that staying is their only choice. They may feel controlled by their significant other and scared to leave because of what their significant other might do if they leave. If this is you, get help immediately.
If you or a loved one think you might be in an abusive relationship,or feel you may be suffering from any form of abuse; feel free to contact our Manhattan or Bergen County, New Jersey offices to make an appointment with one of our own therapists, counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists for guidance needed or an evaluation.
Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920
Visit: http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.
1.”The Christian Broadcasting Network.” 12 Traits of an Abuser. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. .cbn.com/family/marriage/petherbridge_abusertraits.aspx.
2.”The Christian Broadcasting Network.” 12 Traits of an Abuser. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2014. .cbn.com/family/marriage/petherbridge_abusertraits.aspx.