Recognizing Spousal Abuse (Checklist)
Sometimes women find themselves involved with men who abuse them - a group that includes batterers, acquaintances, marital rapists and verbal abusers. Women who have the misfortune of marrying one of these men often need help to escape a hellish situation. Very often an abusive man convinces his victim that she "has it coming." Very often his victims have no place to go. Here’s a list of the characteristics of the abusive man, as complied by Sandy Meadow of the Women’s Center of Old Dominion University:

The Checklist
  • Unemployed or underemployment: the unemployed or underemployed man harbors anger, particularly when his educational and occupational attainment is less than the woman’s.
  • Emotional dependency: he has unrecognized or misunderstood dependence on woman for constant reassurance and gratification.
  • High Investment in marriage: he wants to preserve the marriage at all costs, but quickly replaces lost partner.
  • Boundaries: he violates personal space by getting too close; frequent touches, pinches, grabs.
  • Quick involvement: he claims love at first sight; pressures for quick commitment or living together in less than six months.
  • Controlling behavior: he seeks to control where partner goes, what she does, with whom and for how long; protective to the point of domineering.
  • Jealousy: he is easily angered by partner’s affectionate relationships with other people, particularly family and friends.
  • Abusive family or origin: he was often abused as a child or witnessed spouse abuse as a child.
  • Low self-esteem: he protects a fragile sense of self by acting tough and macho; damages self-esteem of partner to build up himself.
  • Alcohol/drug Abuse: he frequently abuses alcohol and drugs and encourages the same in partner.
  • Difficulty expressing emotions: he is unable to express emotions and displaces job anger on spouse.
  • Blames others for his feelings or problems: he holds the spouse responsible for emotions he claims he cannot control.
  • Hypersensitivity: he has quick temper.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: he often seems like a different person in front of other people.
  • Unrealistic expectations: he remains very dependent on spouse to meet all his physical and emotional needs.
  • Rigid gender roles: he expects woman to stay home and be his servant.
  • Rigid religious rules: he justifies rigid sex roles by strict reading on religious writings.
  • Disrespect for women in general: he ridicules and insults women, sees women as stupid and inferior to men, tells sexist jokes.
  • Emotional abuse: he inflicts all manner of name-calling, belittlement, manipulation, and humiliations.
  • Isolation: he tries to restrict personal freedom from attending school or work, cuts of spouse from family and friends.
  • Reliance on pornography: he often relies on sexual paraphernalia for arousal.
  • Sexual abuse: he forces sex on a partner when she says she makes it clear she’s not receptive at the moment.
  • Cruelty to animals or children: he bullies, abuses or mistreats animals or children (or other people weaker than he), threatens pets and animals loved by the partner.
  • Past violence: he rationalizes past abuse of other woman by saying "they made me do it."
  • Fascination with weapons: he plays with guns and knifes.
  • Threats of violence: he uses the threat or possibility of violence against partner to get his way.
  • Breaking or striking objects: he breaks or destroys objects held in affection by the spouse.
  • Any force during an argument: he resorts to violence to win argument often followed by honeymoon period of genuine remorse for his behavior.



Suggested Reading
The Domestic Violence Sourcebook
The Domestic Violence Sourcebook provides information on welfare reform and its impact on victims of domestic violence; information on how corporate America and other agencies are helping; additional safety tips; and updated resource and internet lists.

Author: Dawn Bradley Berry


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