Could you be the victim of domestic abuse without realizing it? Could your spouse be edging toward actual physical violence?
Domestic violence isn't always as simple (or as obvious) as one spouse shoving another into a wall or raising their fists in anger. In fact, the precursors to physical violence are often subtle — and victims often chalk the early warning signs up to a “troubled personality” or a partner's unusual level of stress.
These are the signs that your relationship with your spouse is abusive:
- Your spouse is a bully who controls what you wear, where you go and what you do.
- Your spouse criticizes you for every perceived wrong or failing, no matter how trivial.
- They yell or threaten whenever they want you to back down in an argument.
- They throw inanimate objects, punch a wall or destroy household objects when angry.
- They “punish” you for perceived wrongs by destroying your personal items.
- They control your finances by limiting your access to the household money.
- They limit your ability to work outside the home (which limits your autonomy).
- They prevent you from buying necessary items, like food, clothing or medicine.
- You are required to “check in” everywhere you go and must account for your time.
- Your contacts with your friend and family members are limited because your spouse doesn't approve of them.
- They demand intimacy and sex, even when you don't feel like it — and tell you it's your obligation as their spouse.
- They monitor your use of electronics, including what you post on social media, your text messages and phone conversations.
- They accuse you of having an affair or being disloyal and want you to “prove” your faithfulness by cutting off friendships or staying home.
Psychological and financial abuse is often a precursor to physical abuse. If you've tried talking to your spouse about their controlling, abusive behavior and they're unwilling to seek help or make changes, it's time to get out. An experienced advocate can help you obtain a protective order, if necessary.