Domestic abuse is an awful and often deadly cycle. Rarely does it start with actual violence.
It starts with a more subtle form of control.
It kills the spirit and smothers the soul way before it leaves bruises and broken bones.
By Reba J. McMellon, M.S.,LPC
Stop – Stop and think. Sounds simple but our culture promotes an approach to love commitment that involves more falling than planning. Pump the brakes. Slow down. Hold the phone.
Hormones and commitment should be two separate things. Oftentimes people find themselves in too deep by the time they realize their relationship has warning signs of domestic abuse.
Stop and ask yourself: How is this person when he or she is angry? How do they handle not being in control? What is their relationship history?
The only way we can accurately predict behavior in the future is by patterns in the past.
Are you committing to a flawed ship? Not getting on the boat in the first place is the best way to prevent drowning.
Stop and pay attention to body language and other expressions of anger, control or selfishness.
Look – Look for signs of problems with anger management.
Does a person get defensive, shift blame or offer excuses? The number one problem with people who engage in domestic abuse is their lack of ability to take responsibility for their own actions and reactions.
There are important differences between those who make excuses and those who take responsibility.
Responsibility implies that fault is sincerely recognized and accepted; and that you take accountability for your actions.
An excuse exists to justify, blame or defend a fault … with the intent to absolve oneself of accountability. An excuse will never be followed by positive, goal-directed or solution-oriented behavior.
Lack of responsibility in the large and small areas of life is a huge warning sign.
Look for red flags. Keep your eyes open and your brain engaged.
Listen – Listen when other people tell you they see red flags. It never hurts to listen.
One of the ways domestic abuse perpetuates itself is through isolation. Listen for patterns that may set you up for domination and isolation. Particularly from family and friends.
If you have to plan conversations with family or friends when the partner is away, that’s a warning sign. If there are demands for all or nothing, listen carefully for what it is the partner is asking you to give up and how often you are expected to blindly give in.
Domestic abuse is an awful and often deadly cycle. Rarely does it start with actual violence. It starts with a more subtle form of control. It kills the spirit and smothers the soul way before it leaves bruises and broken bones.
If you come from a family where an abusive imbalance of power and control existed, you are 75% more likely to fall into the same pattern in your own committed relationships.
To be triumphant in a successful God centered relationship, study what the catechism says about theology of marriage and respect. Then study it some more.
Study narcissism so you will be able to recognize a web of deception before stepping into one.
If you are aware of someone who is trapped in a cycle of domestic violence, quietly tell them you are there when they are ready. Then love them steady.
There is nothing domestic or loving about abuse.
(Reba J. McMellon, M.S. is a licensed professional counselor with 35 years of experience. She worked in the field of child sexual abuse and adult survivors of abuse for over 25 years. She continues to work as a mental health consultant and freelance writer. Reba can be reached at email@example.com)