A continuing look at types of domestic abuse.
Your abuser uses looks, actions, gestures, tone of voice, etc., to frighten or terrify you. He is argumentative. When you see “that look” or hear “that tone”, you cower in fear. He picks fights to keep you in your place. He insists that you say or do only that which he demands or allows. He is liable to smash, break, and destroy items in order to intimate or frighten you. The abuser might threaten your children and your pets with harm, or might actually harm them, in order to strengthen or maintain control over you.
Your abuser destroys or threatens to destroy things that are important to you. He puts on a display of physical force when he is angry in order to frighten you. He is liable to punch holes in walls, break through locked doors, pounds tables, or throw things. When he breaks something, he then is likely to insist that you clean up the mess because you “caused” him to do it.
Your abuser withholds information from you that you might need, chiding you or fussing at when you ask for it. He might curse you out or curse your children. You cannot make an observation or state a fact without him correcting you. He does not want you to have an opinion of your own. He judges and criticizes you. He trivializes your beliefs, your reactions, and your feelings. He makes unreasonable demands. He “forgets” special occasions, promises, or to do what he’s promised he’d do on a regular basis. He orders you around. He discounts your feelings, denies your feelings, denies that he has said or done things even though you know he said or did it. He controls the home atmosphere and your relationship with him. He sets limits on what can and cannot be discussed. He controls how you talk to him, only allowing you to approach him at certain times, with a certain tone, a certain demeanor, using or not using certain words. He might demand that you approach him only with permission or when he’s ready. He is likely to change his demands on a whim. His intention is to make communication difficult or non-existent.
You are given the silent treatment by your abuser. He uses silence as a weapon in order to control you. He refuses to communicate with you even when you beg him to. He does not express love to you, will turn away from you or ignore you when you attempt to speak to him. He will stare straight ahead, refusing to make eye contact. He refuses to answer questions. He pretends he doesn’t hear you. He might storm out in the middle of a conversation and refuse to acknowledge you calling after him. In his own timetable, things will suddenly be alright again and you are left to wonder what happened to make things bad as well as what happened to make things better.
Your abuser is jealous of you, of your interaction with men, or of attention by other men. He uses this jealousy to control you and to “prove my love”. He controls who you talk to, what you do, who you see, and who you are allowed to be friends with. He controls your activities saying that he “doesn’t want to have to share you”. He might drop in on you at work, at school or anywhere else you have to be. He may accuse you of cheating (some abusers do this even as he himself is cheating on you). He isolates you from family, friends, and the church. He might pick fights with your male friends, accusing them of flirting with you or of wanting, or having, a physical relationship with you.
Your abuser may or may not abuse you in all of the ways we’ve covered in this four-part series. His abuse might fall into one, two, or three or more categories. His abuse might fall under nearly all categories (as my abuser’s did). Whether the abuser used or uses one form of abuse or many forms of abuse, it is still destructive. Suffering “only” one type of abuse in no way diminishes what he’s done to you; abuse of any form is still abuse.
If you are being abused, please reach out for help.