Rape is not about lust. Abuse is not about teaching a lesson. Violence, in all of its forms, is about control.
“Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner.” (National Domestic Abuse Hotline)
What is the root cause of domestic violence?
Abuse has nothing to do with the victim. It’s all about the abuser. In many cases, abusers witnessed violence in their childhood. Abuse is a learned behavior. Those tendencies can be triggered by stressful situations such as financial burdens or a death in the family.
There are many myths out there that abuse is caused by something the victim did. Her clothes were immodest. The house wasn’t clean enough. He said the wrong thing. But the truth is, those are just that: myths.
So how do you avoid domestic violence?
“Research makes it very clear that issues about power are predictive of marital problems, including violence.” (Miller, 2008)
When you’re dating or deciding who to let into your life, look for signs of power struggle. Its harder to find so you have to look a little bit closer.
“Today, problems with power seem to be more subtle and less easily detectable.” (Miller, 2008)
5 Subtle Signs of a Domestic Abuser
Here’s a list of subtle signs to watch out for:
- They don’t listen to your opinions
- If you feel like having Chinese food, you should be able to vocalize that. If the other person won’t even take that into consideration and decides you guys are getting hamburgers for dinner, that’s a problem.
- They dominate the conversation
- You should feel like you can be a part of the conversation.
- They don’t value your opinion
- This is similar to number 1 but goes a step further. In healthy relationships, people will value your opinion. That means they will actually ask for it. For example, when deciding on what to get for dinner, the person would pause, turn to you and ask, “what do you feel like eating?”
- They are unable to compromise when disagreements come up.
- This is a big one. Relationships are all about give and take. You shouldn’t feel like you are always submitting to the will of the other person.
- They belittle or demean you privately or in front of others
- Any form of belittling is unacceptable. The super simple way to tell if this is happening to you is to check whether your self esteem grows or shrinks in your relationship. Take this simple test to see where your self-esteem is at.
“Joint decision making, sharing marital powers, perceptions of both self and partner doing a fair share of family work, and a feeling of equity appear to be positively related to marital and relationship satisfaction.” (Eshleman, 2003)
5 Things to Look for to Avoid Any Potential Abuser
- He listens to you.
- He treats your dreams and admirations with respect.
- You feel confident and encouraged after being with him.
- He values your feelings and treats you as an equal.
- He treats everyone he comes in contact with, with respect.
For a more comprehensive list, check out my 42 things: A Dating Checklist
“Marriage, in its truest form, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, August 1992, p. 6).
Relationships of every kind should lift you up and boost your self- esteem. Don’t settle for less.
*If you are worried that you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, please see my resource page for support.
Eshleman, R. (2003) The Family, p. 331).
Hinckley, Gordon B. (August, 1992) Ensign
Miller, Richard B. (March, 2008) Who is the Boss? Power Relationships in Families. © 2008 by Brigham Young University, Division of Continuing Education
Why Do People Abuse? The National Domestic Violence Hotline Retrieved from:http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-abuse/