Let’s talk about partner violence – this piece is primarily about verbal abuse but can apply to uninvited physical abuse as well. It originally appeared on my Yahoo Shine column <here.> The video is a recent appearance on “The Bill Cunningham Show” on the CW Network where I am a resident life coach and relationship expert. -aa

Whether you call it domestic violence, intimate partner violence, spousal abuse, teen dating violence or family violence, this is a serious matter. We are clear that if someone has physically hit us that we are being abused but there are more insidious ways that abusers strike. Please note: I am using the pronoun he to refer to the abuser but abusers can be any gender in relationships of any orientation.

Here are 4 signs that you are in an abusive relationship:

1. You walk on eggshells around him.

When he is “in a mood” you are practically tiptoeing around him because you know that any little comment can send him over the edge. On the last season of the ABC reality series “The Bachelor,” the winner Emily said that Brad’s family asked her whether she had “poked the bear yet.” This was their pet name for Brad’s angry rages. At that moment I was thinking, girl, you need to run.

When you have to be on tenterhooks around someone for fear or enraging them or setting off their temper you may be in an abusive relationship.

2. You make excuses to your friends and family about him.

That’s just Tony. He has anger issues. His mother was really mean. He had a rough upbringing. His father abused him. While these excuses may be good reasons for therapy, they are terrible reasons for a jerk being a jerk.

We all may need our friends to give us a temper tantrum pass from time to time, but if this is the norm in your relationship then something is wrong. If you feel that you always have to explain your man’s behavior to yourself or others, this is a problem.

If you must justify why your man is treating you poorly then you may be in an abusive relationship.

3. He belittles you.

Verbal abuse is never acceptable; but what constitutes verbal abuse? Please take note. Anyone telling you that you are dumb or stupid is verbal abusive. A loved one making repeated disparaging remarks or “jokes” about your looks or physical appearance is verbal abuse. Many abusers do this under the guise of constructive criticism but there is nothing constructive about repeated comments that make you feel small. If some dude is taking repeated verbal jabs at you, no matter how small, you may be in an abusive relationship.

The first comment may take your breath away. You aren’t even sure if the person is being purposely offensive or just rude. The next comment feels like a slap in the face. Starting to see a pattern?

4. He is extremely jealous.

Jealousy can seduce us with the feeling that someone cares about us. However, if your partner sees your every interaction as a flirtation or every glance as a potential affair there is a problem. He is clearly projecting his insecurities on to you.

It is not your responsibility to manage someone else’s insecurity no matter how much you love him. If you are a consenting adult no one should be monitoring your comings and goings. If your partner is consistently jealous and afraid of you cheating on him then you may be in an abusive relationship.


What now?

What if you have determined that you are in an abusive situation? Get help. You are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control 25 million American Women share your plight. If the situation has already escalated into physical violence the Domestic Violence Hotline is (800) 799-SAFE and there is advice for making a detailed escape plan on their comprehensive website .

Stop casting your gorgeous pearls to the swine, dahling. It’s time to move on. You can’t fix anyone and the reasons why they became that way are not your responsibility. Jealousy and possessiveness may feel like love but this is the trickster’s confusion. No one who attempts to make you feel as though you are less than your glorious self deserves a front seat in your big, fat, beautiful life. Many people in this situation move on and do all sorts of exciting things — enter a helping healing profession or tell your story.


Put on your running shoes and go!


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