Signs of an Abusive Partner

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?

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4 thoughts on “Signs of an Abusive Partner

  1. I don’t think I’ve seen a single church even mention abuse, much less do anything to help a person dealing with it. Of course, most of my churches have been SBC, so half the things listed they teach as ‘female submission’ to ‘male authority’. All decisions are ultimately his to make, and it’s up to him whether or not he takes other people’s thoughts into consideration.
    That old saying holds true, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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    1. Which means that, at the heart of Christian teachings, they’re laying down the foundation for abuse, particularly when they teach gender roles, male headship (authority), female submission, men make decisions about the money, and even the jokes from the pulpit putting down women; abusive churches can teach men how to be abusive without realizing that’s what they’re doing because authority is more important than being powerless and leading is more important than following, even following Jesus’ lead to lay down power and therefore avoid corruption.

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  2. I can totally relate to this post! I was recently in a emotional, verbal, and mental abusive relationship with a Narcissist abuser. We met in church, Now no place feels safe. It has been eight months later and I am still in fear for my life. I have had many meetings with my Pastor in regards to my relationship and Just when I thought it was getting easier for me I am finding out the individual is playing the victim. I have never been in such fear for my life, and it’s scary that the church can have groups for grief, and divorce but you never see churches with groups that are targeted for abused victims. That should be the biggest safe place being able to relate to others in the house of God, and lift one another up. Maybe one day I can do that for my church or bring awareness to people. Abusive relationships are scary and you’re afraid to get out, you keep asking “why me?” I find myself asking myself that even now. I think it would be wonderful if churches provided a place for abusive people to go instead of directing them to counseling sessions and such. Great Post!!!

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    1. I’m sorry to hear that you were in an abusive relationship, but I’m glad that you’re out of it and can begin the healing process. I really don’t trust church counseling sessions, particularly if it is nouthetic counseling because it can do more harm than good but that’s a whole other post. It seems to me that Christianity frequently misreads scripture – instead of standing up for victims, all too often they excuse the actions of the violent party as if they were justified. They cite a few Bible verses, say a prayer, and that’s that. I think it just goes to show that our church is incapable of dealing with domestic violence because it’s helping to perpetuate it in many instances.

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