Recognising the dangers of abusive relationships
|"What are little boys made of?" - So asks an old nursery rhyme. The question has profound meaning in our modern era, with the plague of abuse and control of women in our world. |
This article contains guidance for women who want to avoid selfish men, and abusive or controlling relationships. If followed, it can spare many girls and women from such horrible situations as the ones we so often read about in the news.
I offer this guidance, not as a therapist or doctor, or someone with formal qualifications in relationships, but, as someone who has lost too many beautiful people to monsters who have devoured them. What I have to offer is real, reliable and helpful. Now, some professional counsellors may object to someone like me giving advice. However, the human mind, and the emotions we experience, are still a relatively unknown area, and many so called “experts” often disagree with each other about it. Albert Einstein once said “The only knowledge is experience.” That is particularly true of human relationships. Therefore, this guidance is based on my own life experiences, and an ancient source of respected wisdom.
I have personally observed the relationships of those of my family and friends end in disaster, with severe consequences. I have five sisters. All of them have, at one time in their lives, suffered controlling relationships and abuse by men. My youngest sister was dominated by a man who started out as a likeable bloke, but soon deteriorated into a heroin addict and a bully. My own daughter suffered Post Traumatic Stress due to an abusive marriage partner. She is still seeing a therapist today, and we are her carers while she recovers and tries to regain her self-esteem and courage. I have seen many women - friends, colleagues and family, destroyed by selfish abusive men. The sad thing is that many of these women go on to make the same mistakes in choosing relationships repeatedly throughout their lives.
Witnessing all these tragic relationships, I have learned to read the warning signs of doomed relationships, and abusive men.
A Man's Mind
When it comes to advice on relationships for women, they tend to turn to certain selective sources. Generally, women consult other women (friends, siblings, colleagues etc) or professional advisers (agony aunts, self-help books and even horoscopes), and yet, still we find so many women hurt because of controlling relationships and use and abuse by men. The one source women never seem to consult is men themselves (the decent men, that is). Surely, the person in the best position to recognize the danger signs in men, is another man (preferably one that the woman trusts). As a man, I have insight into the thinking of my fellow men (good and bad). I have had colleagues, in-laws, and associates who have been cruel and insensitive to women, and I know the kind of speech pattern and behaviour that shows a man's thinking and attitude towards women. This coupled with many women's trusting nature, is a recipe for disaster. Furthermore, many women still subconsciously cling to misguided notions that there is a “Mr right” out there, or that they can change a bad boy into a good one. As a man who understands men, I have warned - among others - my sisters and my daughters, of danger signs in men they had met. More often than not, they have ignored my advice, and have ended up suffering bad relationships and abuse. It is of no comfort to say to someone you love “I told you so” when they are heartbroken, or the victim of abuse.
I hope that this article can help some girls and women to avoid such traumas. I sincerely wish to spare all women the anguish and humiliation that my sisters and my daughter have been subjected to. If you, dear reader, are in, or considering starting a relationship with a man, and particularly if you are considering marrying a man, then this article can be of particular benefit to you, and could save you from much misery and pain.
Ask yourself this question;
What is the difference between attraction, infatuation and love?
Attraction is based on sight, and biological reactions, it requires no knowledge of the person.
Infatuation is a fixation or obsession with a person, and can also be without knowledge of the person.
However, love is based on experience, knowledge and interaction with the person. It takes time to love someone. There is no such thing as “Love at first sight” no matter how romantic and alluring that idea may be.
There is a famous description of love that captures it's essence in a brief sentence. It says that real love is - “Patient and kind.”
When a person loves you, they make sacrifices, they put your wishes above theirs, they are concerned for your happiness more than their own. The source goes on to say;
“Love does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked.”
Ask yourself - “Is that how this man treats me?”
Qualities and flaws
Ask yourself -
“What are the most important qualities in a companion?
Many people may answer “a good sense of humour.” While humour is desirable in a companion, it is no indicator of kindness or loyalty. The guidance lists the supreme qualities that are universally desired in fellow humans, they are;
“Love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”
In contrast, the guidance lists the negative traits of humans that may dominate some people; thy are;
“Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy”
Which of the above sets of qualities does he show more?
Charm, Flattery, and Persuasion
Many abusive men use charm and flattery to entice women into relationships. They use smooth, romantic cliches (usually someone else's) to literally charm a woman, who then lets her guard down and places trust in him. But genuine, sincere men do not make false or exaggerated compliments, just to gain a woman's favour or trust. If a new boyfriend showers a woman with constant, unrealistic compliments, it is very likely that he is manipulating her emotions, for his own benefit. This is sadly more true where a girl or woman has a low opinion of herself, and is looking for reassurance, perhaps after a bad relationship. Like most things in life – if it seems too good to be true – it probably is. The ancient source of wisdom warns that “The heart is treacherous.” In other words, a person cannot trust his emotions when when making life-changing decsions. The source also cautions “Do not take to heart every word that people say.” Learn to see the motive, rather than the message.
Ask yourself …..
Do the things he says about me make me feel giddy or weak at the knees? Are his compliments realistic and true?
A quick reality check could save you a lifetime of pain and misery.
So much emphasis these days for relationships is on what the two people have in common, what they do for a living, what their entertainment choices are etc. None of these factors guarantee a good match or a good person. What is the use of being with a man who loves to do the same things as you do, agrees with the same politics as you, and has a "compatible" star sign with yours, if he treats you disrespectfully or abuses you?
What happens if I disagree with him on something?
Is he reasonable? Does he acknowledge my feelings and opinions?
Is he insistent, demanding?
Does he tend to insist on buying and paying for everything? Does he choose where to go and what to do? It could be simple generosity, but it is more likely a sign of something more sinister in his personality. This can be a form of early control which, once in a close relationship, can develop into abuse.
Although gifts can be a genuine expression of affection and gratitude, many devious men use money and gifts to gain a woman's favour. If a new boyfriend overwhelms you with lavish gifts, or expensive trips, is it without strings, without obligation, or does it make you more compliant to his wishes? Is it overwhelming? If so, this could be a real danger sign. A sincere, interested man, in a new relationship, should not feel the need to impress with lavish items and expensive events. The ancient source warns about people who use "The showy display of ones means of life" to get people to like and follow them.
Does he try to pressure you to do things that you are uncomfortable with?
My wife has a fear of worms. I don't understand why, and I do think it is an odd fear to have but, I would never dream of dangling worms in her face, or putting one down her neck, or ridiculing her, as some men do with womens fears. Neither would I insist that she "Face her fears." To do so would be selfish and unkind. We all have our own personal fears - even macho guys!
The source urges men to “Love their wives (or girlfriend, or fiancée) as their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cherishes it.” It goes on to say "Treat others the way you want to be treated."
At this point, it is worth mentioning that, some girls and women do actually like the company of “bad boys.” They find the unexpected and daring relationship exciting. One of my own sisters admitted this to me once. However, what many women fail to perceive is that - for all the excitement, for all the bravado - there is a heavy price to pay. Such men are usually egotistical, insensitive, and demanding, and they rarely have a sense of loyalty. Many of them can easily become abusive and controlling. Ask yourself – What price am I willing to pay for excitement, or a powerful sexual relationship? The actual price may end up being a life of misery, as a prisoner of his demands.
Public displays and exhibitionism
Another warning sign for women is the way a man wants her to dress and behave with him in public. Some men like their companion to dress skimpily or provocatively, not for their own benefit, but for other men to see. This is a kind of trophy-wielding mentality and it is often a trait of shallow, controlling men. A man who loves and respects a woman does not want her to be an public exhibit, to make others jealous, but he would want to only share intimacy in private, not with the gaze of other men upon her. In poetic language, the source encourages;
“Should your springs be scattered out of doors, your streams of water in the public squares themselves? Let them prove to be for you alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your water source prove to be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.”
Impressing others should not be a requirement for love and respect. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and mild spirit.”
Interacting with others
A good indication of the kind of man you are with is the way he treats others, particularly his family members. According to the ancient wisdom, a man should “Show honour to his Father and Mother.” How does he treat his family? Is he close to them? Is he patient and kind with them? Or does he argue regularly and show disrespect to them? If so, then that is a very good indication of how he will treat you.
Also, who are his friends and acquaintances? Are they nice, kind people who welcome you and behave decently to you and other women? Or are they crude and aggressive. Do they show a lack of respect? If so, ask yourself - Why does he mix with them? Could the answer be because he is also like them? The ancient wisdom warns “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Does he behave differently when you are both alone together? Is he one of
“Those who hide what they really are?” If so, it could be a real warning of danger in the relationship.
Is he dependent on a lot of alcohol, or maybe certain medication or recreational drugs? The ancient source warns “Do not let yourself come to be under the control of anything.” Men who depend on alcohol or drugs are lacking in self control and are prone to emotional outburst and bizarre behaviour.
The source goes on to say;
“You must understand this: In the last days there will be critical times, hard to deal with. People will be selfish and love money. They will brag, be arrogant, and use abusive language. They will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, and lack normal affection for their families. They will refuse to make peace with anyone. They will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal, and have no love for what is good. They will be traitors. They will be reckless and conceited.”
Does any of the above description sound familiar in the man you are with?
If so, the source urges us to “Turn away from these”
We all need, and should offer forgiveness, because we all make mistakes, we can all be selfish, and we all hurt people – whether intentionally, or unintentionally. The source says that we are all imperfect. However, that does not mean that people – men, can get away with any kind of behaviour. The person in history most famous for forgiving and mercy is Jesus Christ. Yet, even he placed a condition on forgiveness – “If they repent” - or, if they are genuinely remorseful about their actions. No human being has to tolerate continual abuse from someone, especially if that person claims to love them. The abuser does not have the right to forgiveness - only the opportunity. No-one is entitled to "Unconditional love."
If, upon considering these matters, you realize that you could be developing a potentially abusive relationship with a man, it would be wise to end the relationship as soon as possible. Abusive men become bolder and more domineering the longer a relationship goes on. They start with small levels of control but slowly build up confidence to completely dominate the woman in all aspects of her life, until she becomes almost a prisoner. Abusive men are not just physically destructive but more often are mentally destructive. They wear down a woman's self-respect and confidence with slogans such as “No one else but me would have you” or “Your useless” or, “You couldn't survive without me.” My younger sister, who died prematurely after years of an abusive relationship, became convinced that she was a nobody, that she was unattractive to men and that, if she ever tried to leave her partner he would find her and kill her. He later died of a heroin overdose.
If you have concerns about a man or a relationship, seek advice from someone you trust. Do not keep it to yourself. Abusive men rely on their victim's warped sense of loyalty and they believe that their woman would never betray them. But the consequences of remaining in such a relationship are life-changing. Please, do not believe the inner voice, or the voice of well-meaning friends who say, “You can change him.” Abusers do not change for their victims.
Courage is required to break free from a controlling relationship. The guidance urges “If your eye offends you, pluck it out.” This means that you should get rid of anything that corrupts or hurts you, especially bad company.
Sadly, there will always be men who are selfish and evil, men who insist on dominating and hurting women. As a man, I am ashamed of my sex when I hear of yet another abuser. We can all help to prevent such tragedies. As women entering relationships, remember the warnings. As friends and family, take note of what you observe in the relationships of your female friends and relatives. And as a society, let us challenge and change such inhuman behaviour.
What are little boys made of? “Slime and snails and puppy dog tails.” That children's rhyme is closer to the truth than we would like to think.