You would think that any organization bent on match-making would thoroughly educate it’s members in what to look for as a warning side of potential trouble. I find that with Christianity, people are pretty much left to their own devices – which might explain some of the difficulties they face. For one, I don’t remember anyone stopping to tell me the warning signs of an abusive partner; I would think such details would be at the top of the list, but the need to make matches tends to over-ride good, common sense. Anyway, here are the signs – if #3 and any of the other signs exist, carefully consider how healthy the relationship is for you – if it veers into toxic territory, it might be time to break things off. Interestingly, if you see them in any form in your church, it’s a good idea to not go to that church.
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. MAKES 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. Also 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.”
Sometimes Christians aren’t even told what abuse looks like: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/
But every good church should have a plan in place to help it’s members escape abusive relationships and display the hot line so that people can start figuring out (1) how to leave the relationship successfully and (2) how to recognize them so that they don’t get into another one – so here’s the hot line if anyone needs to reach out for help: 1-800-799-SAFE
So, how do your churches do in the recognizing and dealing with abuse department?