I am going to cut through the shit. I don’t have much tolerance for abuse or abusive behavior. While discussions of abusive behavior typically focus on men as abusers, women, too, can also be abusive.

When I think of abuse, I think of:

1) Offensive name calling meant to hurt or emotionally damage someone, using words to cut someone down, and using verbal threats or intimidation. Intention and how the exchanges are received play a role here. There are times when we may playfully call names, but it has to be acceptable to both parties. The intention is not to be hurtful. When one party says “stop,” it must stop.

2) Hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, grabbing, pulling, kicking, and biting. You get the idea. It is using physical means to cause harm to someone else.

3) Forcing sexual activity onto another person, touching another person’s sexual body parts without permission, invasions of personal privacy where sexuality is involved.

Here is what makes my neck hair stand up:

Mali Maeder

1. When I hear about someone who is controlling, who wants to know where his/her partner is all of the time.

2. When I hear about someone who has slowly cut off a person from his/her friends

3. When I hear about someone who is monitoring all of the partner’s activities.

4. When I hear about someone who started off showering a person with affection and kind gestures only to become increasingly jealous and controlling.

5. When I hear about someone who controls all of the money and decisions.

Here is the cycle of abuse:

You see a tension building, an explosion, and often remorse with promises to “do better.” The cycle repeats and often becomes more explosive. Does this apply to you? Remember, you cannot be responsible for another person’s actions. That is co-dependence. You can’t “make” someone else do anything. We are all responsible for our own choices.

Here is the power and control wheel:

Are these signs present in your relationships? No excuses. These are well-studied signs of how people use power and control in relationships.

Here is what places you at risk (not at fault):

· If you experienced/watched abuse as a child, you may not recognize unhealthy behaviors or boundaries. You may be more likely to tolerate inappropriate behaviors.

· If you are insecure, you may be attracted to someone who showers you with attention. At first, it can be flattering. Being insecure may also attract someone who wants to control you.

· If you have a hard time saying “no,” abusive people may be attracted to you because you may be more easily manipulated.

· If you are dependent on someone else for money, housing, etc., it is harder to walk away. Pregnancy often increases the tension in the relationship.

Here is what you can do:

· Most importantly, know that no one deserves to be abused — ever. It doesn’t matter how you found yourself in such circumstances. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you made. There is never an excuse for hurting another person. This is not your fault. It is never too late to get help. Don’t judge yourself. That only makes it worse. Deal with the facts, and be safe.

· Know that help is out there. Call your local domestic violence shelter or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–7233 or 1–800–787–3224 (TTY) or thehotline.org.

· Know that your life and well-being are most at risk when you decide to leave a violent relationship. Have a plan to be safe that includes having a place to go, having important papers, and having access to your money.

George Becker

· File an order of protection with the local police department. Alert the local police and discover your options. You can never be too safe.

· If you are an abuser, you can seek help through anger management and other therapy. Start with the local domestic violence shelter and see what they recommend. Know, however, that abusive behaviors are not easily changed. It takes intense desire and commitment to change.

.If you have been abused, it is not your job to fix the abuser. That will never work.

Author of Move on Motherf*cker: Live, Laugh, and Let Sh*t Go. Using CBT, mindfulness, humor, and profanity to feel better. jodieeckleberryhunt.com