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Is My Relationship Abusive?

Because many survivors grew up in homes where abuse was the norm, they often have a hard time identifying and acknowledging abuse in their adult lives. In Getting Free, Ginny NiCarthy gives some guidelines for recognizing abusive relationships. Has your partner done any of these things to you?

Physical Abuse

bullet Pushed or shoved you
bullet Slapped, bit, kicked or choked you
bullet Hit or punched you
bullet Abandoned you in a dangerous place
bullet Subjected you to reckless driving or kept you from driving
bullet Threatened to hurt you with a weapon
bullet Held you to keep you from leaving or locked you out of the house
bullet Thrown objects at you
bullet Refused to help when you were sick, injured, or pregnant
bullet Raped you

Sexual Abuse

bullet Made demeaning remarks about women
bullet Been jealously angry
bullet Minimized the importance of your feelings about sex
bullet Insisted on unwanted touching
bullet Called you names like "whore" or "frigid"
bullet Had affairs with other women after agreeing to monogamy
bullet Forced particular unwanted sex acts
bullet Committed sadistic sexual acts
bullet Treated women as sex objects
bullet Insisted you dress in a more sexual way than you would like
bullet Criticized you sexually
bullet Withheld sex and affection
bullet Forced you to strip when you didn't want to
bullet Publicly shown interest in other women
bullet Forced sex
bullet Forced sex after beating

Emotional Abuse

bullet Ignored your feelings
bullet Insulted your valued beliefs, religion, race, heritage, or class
bullet Insulted your family or friends
bullet Humiliated you
bullet Kept you from working, controlled your money, made all the decisions
bullet Regularly threatened to leave or told you to leave
bullet Manipulated you with lies and contradictions
bullet Ridiculed or insulted women as a group
bullet Withheld approval or affection as a punishment
bullet Criticized you, called you names, shouted at you
bullet Refused to socialize with you
bullet Refused to work or share money
bullet Taken car keys or money away
bullet Threatened to hurt you or your family
bullet Threatened to kidnap the children if you left him
bullet Abused pets to hurt you

Although some items are clearly more dangerous than others, almost all of them are potentially dangerous, and all show a lack of respect and an effort to intimidate and control you. One problem with accepting a certain level of abuse is that there's a tendency for the abusive person to interpret it as permission to escalate the assaults into more dangerous and frequent acts. You're the only one who can decide how much is too much and what you're ready to do about it, but it's important to recognize what's being done to you and to know that you don't have to take it.