As the world hunkered down into COVID-19 quarantine, a parallel pandemic of violence and abuse roared up in homes around the world. According to global nonprofit organization Unsilenced Voices, domestic abuse has skyrocketed in the last two years as victims became trapped at home with their abusers, and lifelines to help closed off. While the onus of preventing or ending domestic abuse should never fall upon victims’ shoulders, there are some red flags you can look out for in your own relationship. If you’re feeling unhappy with your partner lately, ask yourself if he or she exhibits any of these common traits of abusers:
- Violent Upbringing: Your partner grew up in a violent family or learned from a young age that violence is normal behavior.
- Quick Temper: He uses force or violence to solve problems, as indicated by things like a criminal record for violence, a quick temper or tendency to overreact to minor frustrations. Also could include fighting, destruction of property or cruelty to animals.
- Poor Self-Image: often masked by trying to act tough.
- Jealousy: not only of other men, but also your friends or family members.
- Hyper-masculine Behavior: He feels he should make all the decisions and define the gender roles. He has traditional ideas about appropriate roles and behaviors of men and women; believes women are second-class citizens. He expects you to follow his orders, and he becomes angry if you can’t read his mind and anticipate what he wants.
- Emotional Abuse: Insults you or other women with name-calling, putdowns, humiliation or attempts to create guilt.
- Isolates You: He tells you who you may see or talk to, controls what you do and where you go, even what you read. He keeps tabs on your every move and wants you with him all the time. He monitors your phone, email or social media accounts.
- Intimidates You: He makes you feel afraid, like you’re “walking on eggshells” with his looks, anger or gestures. You do what he says to keep the peace and constantly work to prevent him from getting angry.
- “Jekyll and Hyde”: His moods have extreme highs and lows, as though he were two different people; he swings from overly kind and loving to hurtful and cruel.
- Gaslighting: He often denies his previous actions, minimizing or making light of his own abusive behavior, refusing to take your concerns seriously, calling you “crazy” or “dramatic”, or blaming you for his behavior.
If your partner is abusive, or you fear they may become so, there is a way out. You can immediately apply for assistance from Unsilenced Voices here. To learn more about how to help domestic abuse survivors, or to get involved, anyone can attend a free Domestic Violence Awareness Tour event this year. Together, we can make the world a safer place.