An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Oct. 14, 2008

Know how to avoid abusive intimate relationships

By Jim Hernandez 437th Medical Group Family Advocacy Outreach manager

Before getting into a relationship, people should know how to tell if they are getting involved with someone who will be physically abusive.

Initially, an abuser will try to explain the behavior as signs of love and concern, and the partner may be flattered. As time goes on, the behaviors become more severe and serve to dominate the partner.

Below is a list of behaviors seen in people who abuse their intimate partners. The last four signs are almost always seen if the person is a batterer -- if the person has several of the other behaviors (about three or more) there may be a strong potential for physical violence.

Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, abusers will always say jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. The abusers will question their partners about the people to whom they talk, accuse them of flirting, or be jealous of time they spend with family, friends or children. As the jealousy progresses, the abusers may call them frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. They may give them a hard time for being involved in activities or work for fear that they will meet someone else. They may even display strange behaviors such as asking friends to watch them.

Controlling behavior: At first, the abusers will say this behavior is because they are concerned for their safety, their need to use time well or their need to make good decisions. They will be angry if they "late" for meeting them after a trip to the store or an appointment. If they cannot see them when they want them to, they may question them closely about who they will be with or what their plan is. As this behavior gets worse, they may try to interfere with their right to make personal decisions about school, clothing or going to church. They may act as if they want to own them.

Quick involvement: Many people dated or knew the person who abused them for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. They come on like a whirlwind -- "you're the only person I could ever talk to." They need someone desperately and will pressure them to commit to them.

Unrealistic expectations: They are very dependent on their partners for all of their needs; they expect them to be the perfect girlfriend, mother, lover and friend. They will say things like, "If you love me, I'm all you need - you're all I need." They are supposed to take care of everything for them emotionally and meet all of their needs.

Isolation: The abusers try to cut their partners off from all resources. If she has male friends, she is a "slut." If she has girlfriends, she is accused of being a lesbian. If he is close to family, he is "tied to the apron strings." They abusers may try to keep them from working or being involved in school or other activities that do not revolve around them.

Blames others for problems: They feel this way if they are chronically unemployed, someone is always doing them wrong or out to get them. They may make mistakes and then blame the partners for upsetting them and keeping them from concentrating on doing their jobs. They will tell the partners they are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.

Blames others for feelings: The abuser tells the partner, "You make me mad;" "You're hurting me by not doing what I ask;" or "I can't help being angry." They really make the decision about what they think and feel, but will use feelings to manipulate the partner and accept no responsibility for their emotions.

Domestic violence doesn't just stop on its own. Call the 437th Medical Group Family Advocacy Program at 963-6972 today for help; the clinic's is available to help military families end the abuse.