Had a Hospital Stay  — Obvious
Had to call the Police — Obvious
Had to call an Ambulance — Obvious
Guns, Knives, Blood  — Obvious
Threatened Your Life – and you believed it — Obvious
Threatened to Take Their Own Life – and you believed it –Obvious
Broken Bones — Obvious
Black eye  / Fat Lip —  Obvious
Bruises where they can be covered by clothing — A Direct Message to You
You FEEL beat up – even though you were never hit

And yet, many partners, even after experiencing several of the above situations, don’t want to believe that they are in an abusive relationship, don’t want to believe that it will happen again, and again, and again….  until they get out and stay out!

Abuse in a relationship, whether it be dating, a marriage, any family member, a job, or a friendship,  can take many forms.  Verbal, Emotional, Psychological, Sexual, and, of course, Physical.  Many times, even with broken bones and bruises, we have a tendency to minimize what is happening.  We might say to ourselves, “Well, at least he doesn’t HIT me, he would NEVER hit me.”  And that seems to be enough.   For some of us, being faithful in the relationship is our final boundary.  And again, we might find ourselves saying, “He/She doesn’t screw around on me!”  Because, that would be more than we could tolerate.  Many times, the final boundary is about money.  “My partner/mate has a job, brings their check home and is holding up their end of the financial part of the relationship.”

Are we setting the bar way too low?  Are these the bare minimum kinds of expectations?  Today, I can say, Yeah! This bar is way too low! But, there are lots of ways that abusive behavior can creep into our relationships, and depending on what we saw growing up, we don’t even have a clue that it IS abusive.   When someone confront us, asking, “Why do you let _____ get away with treating you like that?!”  We find ourselves shocked that anyone would consider it abusive.

Some kinds of abuse, usually in the beginning, are very subtle, so subtle that we don’t even recognize it as abuse.   But then what do we ACoA’s/children from dysfunctional families,  know about what is normal?  They may say hurtful things, or embarrass you just to see how you respond.  Will you tolerate the behavior, make excuses for it, or do you immediately let your partner know that you will not tolerate that treatment from them or anyone?  Here is a checklist that might help in recognizing if YOUR relationship is abusive…

CHECKLIST  (provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Does your partner…

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? (psychological abuse)
  • Put down your accomplishments or goals? (psychological abuse)
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? (psychological abuse)
  • Use intimidation or threats to get you to do what they want?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  • Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of  what your partner would do if you broke-up or left?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).
If you need help please call 911 or The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 404-688-9436

sarcasm – Word Origin & History:

1579, from L.L. sarcasmos, from Gk. sarkasmos “a sneer, jest, taunt, mockery,” from sarkazein “to speak bitterly, sneer,” lit. “to strip off the flesh,” from sarx (gen. sarkos) “flesh,” prop. “piece of meat,” from PIE base *twerk- “to cut” (cf. Avestan thwares “to cut”). Sarcastic is from 1695. For nuances of usage, see humor.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

In my early days of recovery, I was ever-ready with the witty repartee, or so I thought.  What I really had on the tip of my tongue, were words intended to verbalize my dissatisfaction in a vicious manner, all the while, claiming it was just a joke.  Can’t they take a joke…   It wasn’t until I came across a reading one day in the Alanon daily meditation reader about sarcasm and how we use it to “tear down” the alcoholic in our lives.  It went on to say that the word comes from the Greek word “sarcazo” which means to TEAR FLESH, that it was a form of irony.  And again I said, in a state of shock, “it’s just a joke, can’t they take a joke??”

I was appalled to find that my, at that time, favorite form of communication was really a form of verbal abuse.  A very passive-aggressive form of belittling someone.  Everyone I knew back then used sarcasm and used it well.   It was the place where I found one of my first character defect.

Watching my behavior, and my mouth, became a full time job for a while.  Whenever I wanted to say something sarcastic I would stop and ask myself, “are you really upset with that person?  are you meaning the words that you are saying??”  I found out some interesting things about myself at that time.  Yes, I usually was upset with the person and yes, I usually did mean what I was saying.  All of a sudden it dawned on me, it WASN’T a joke.  I meant all the mean things that I was saying.

Thus began my first venture into making amends.  The way that I chose to make those amends in the very early days of my recovery, was to simply stop the behavior.   If I found myself in a situation where I felt a sarcastic remark would fit well, I stopped and examined why did I want to say something so mean to that person.  I was then able to begin to make new choices in my communication style.  I could choose to walk away and not say anything.  I could choose to find a more direct way of saying what I was upset about.  I could choose to be gentle with myself and the person I was upset with by finding a new way to have a discussion.

As I began shifting my behavior, I also started becoming aware of how much people meant all those snide little remarks that they made and how much I no longer wanted to be the Queen of the Caustic Quip.