Nobody expects to enter into abusive relationships. In fact, most people miss the early signs that a marriage may be heading towards problems. For instance, did you know that patterns of trying to control the other person are a HUGE red flag?
According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. While many may be aware of these statistics, it can be difficult to identify mistreatment from within abusive relationships. What constitutes abuse, and when is it time to leave your marriage?
5 types of abusive relationships:
- Control: “Abusive relationships” brings to mind physical violence. At the same time, many forms of abuse don’t leave bruises. Attempts to control a spouse's behavior, friends, finances, or activities is often the first sign of an abusive situation and may be a precursor to violence. Abusers tend to isolate their victims and chip away at their self-esteem until he or she becomes the only person in the victim’s world. Control may be attempted by using threats, anger, or excessive criticism.
- Emotional manipulation: Another form of psychological abuse is the use of guilt, criticism, anger, or other manipulation to degrade the victim. The purpose may be simply to hurt him or her, or to force compliance. Your spouse may play mind-games, attack your vulnerabilities, threaten to leave or withhold affection/approval as punishment. Repeated infidelity also falls under emotionally abusive relationships.
- Verbal abuse: Constant demeaning, insulting, or humiliating comments in public or private are incredibly damaging forms of verbal abuse. This includes telling hurtful “jokes” about you despite your discomfort and requests to stop, name-calling, swearing and insults, questioning your sanity or ridiculing your opinions/desires.
- Sexual Abuse: Until recently, unwanted or forced sex within marriage was not considered “rape”. Married victims of sexual abuse still face considerable stigma when coming forward with their sexually abusive relationships. Sexual abuse includes unwanted sex, withholding sex, forced engagement in any sexual activity that frightens or hurts you, refusing to practice safe sex or preventing you from using birth control or making decisions about pregnancy/abortion.
- Physical Violence: If your partner has done anything to intentionally hurt you, it is critical that you remove yourself and your children from him or her immediately. In addition to beating and chocking, pining you down, spitting on you, abandoning you in dangerous places, driving at high speeds or toying with dangerous situations to intimidate you, refusing to help you or withholding aid when you are sick, injured or pregnant is also physical abuse.
While Power of Two believes in the restorative power of marriage skills learning, there are sadly many situations where separation is the best solution is for the marriage. If you suspect you or a friend may be in abusive relationships, contact a resource such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) for free, confidential advice.
At the same time, many marriage problems are actually fixable and you can learn the skills for communication, increased positivity and intimacy. Try a FREE 3-DAY trial of Power of Two to find out if your marriage can benefit from this innovative and scientifically-proven method.