Early signs of domestic abuse can be subtle, progressing gradually from overly controlling behavior to threats, and, ultimately, to violence. If you think you may have a problem with violence, consider the following:
• Do you imagine that another person is interested in your partner or that your partner is interested in another person?
• Do you abuse your partner verbally? Do you ridicule your partner or use disparaging terms such as "stupid," "fat," "lazy," or "ugly"?
• Are you unusually concerned with your partner's whereabouts, activities, and contacts with friends and family?
• Do you threaten to do something violent if your partner does something you don't like?
• When you are angry, do you throw things, damage your partner's possessions, or threaten to hurt your partner or your partner's pets or children?
• Do you use force such as pushing, shoving, or restraining during an argument?
• Do you blame your partner for your anger or violence?
• After a violent episode, do you promise your partner that it won't happen again, say you love your partner, or buy your partner gifts, but repeat the behavior another day?
If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, you are a potential bat-terer. Denying that you have a problem or rationalizing your behavior puts you and your loved ones at risk of escalating violence that may lead to injury or even death. It's not enough to say you are sorry and you will never do it again; that is part of the cycle of violence. It is crucial for you to recognize your abusive behavior and take responsibility for it. Before you react, think about the safety, health, and emotional well-being of your partner and children.
Call your doctor or a domestic violence hot line and find out what programs are available in your community. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional who can help you understand the reasons for your behavior and help you develop strategies to change it and break the pattern of abuse. Joining a support group of other men who have a similar experience also can be helpful.
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