Identifying Abusive Relationships

Victims of abuse often don't recognize the abusive dynamic, especially with emotional abuse. They may blame themselves for upsetting their partner. SPARCC is a Sarasota not-for-profit that provides free and confidential services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their hotline is 941-365-1976 and website is www.sparcc.net.

The warning signs of domestic violence are:

  1. A push for a quick relationship 

  2. Jealous and possessive 

  3. Tries to control your life 

  4. Unrealistic expectations

  5. Isolates you from friends & family

  6. Blames others for their problems 

  7. Makes everyone else responsible for their feelings

  8. Says their feelings are easily hurt

  9. Cruel to animals and/or children

  10. “Playful” use of force during sex

  11. Yells and calls you names

  12. Rigid sex rules

  13. Sudden mood swings

  14. History of battering

  15. Threats of violence

  16. Threatens to reveal personal or damaging information about you to your family or employer

There are also many self help books to help you determine if your relationship is abusive and what you can do to improve your situation. Here are some that I can recommend:

The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans

This book is helpful in recognizing verbal abuse and how to respond appropriately. She describes how verbal abuse is not just calling someone names. It involves a range of behaviors in which victims are blamed for problems in relationships, and abusers don't take responsibility for their behavior and the impact on victims.

Emotional Blackmail: When the People In Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward, Ph.D.

The author addresses a broad range of relationships that involve emotional blackmail. A great guide to understanding when you're being coerced to comply with unjustified demands and how to respond.

Ditch That Jerk: Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women by Pamela Jayne

Can be helpful for women to tell the difference between a good man who does bad things, but has potential to improve, and a really bad man she should avoid. Also, there is lots of information about tactics abusers use to manipulate victims.

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

The author does a good job of explaining how common sociopaths are in our community (not just prisons). They possess no conscious, feeling no guilt, shame or remorse. They can also be very charismatic. This book can help you identify and avoid being damaged by them.