- 20% of women's visits to the ER are caused by battering.
- Battering is the single major cause of injury to women.
- Animal shelters outnumber women's shelters in the United States by at
least 5 to 1. (unverified)
- Out of all the women who are killed by their abusers, 3 out of 4 are
killed while in the process of leaving him.
- One out of every three girls and one in five boys will be sexually
abused before the age of 18.
- More than half of all rapes occur in the victim's own home.
- Reported rapes are only a fraction the number of total rapes;
estimates of unreported rapes range from 5 to 8 times the reported
- It has been said that men are afraid that women will laugh at them;
women are afraid that men will kill them.
Ways to Tell if You Are Being (or Have Been) Abused
One of the best ways to tell if you are being abused is to trust your
gut. This is a difficult task, if your abuser has managed to make you
doubt your own sanity, but it is vital to your survival and healing. Ask
yourself if you are frightened of the person in question; if the answer is
"yes", they may well be abusing you.
Certainly, if they are physically abusing you, there will be bruises,
bloodied noses, cuts, and other injuries to indicate what's going on.
Remember that assaulting and battering someone is a criminal offense, and
you don't deserve it no matter how old or young you are, how mad the
person became, or whether you were having a heated argument with them
beforehand. As the saying goes: your right to hit me ends where the end of
my nose begins. Nobody has the right to batter anyone else, ever.
Sexual abuse is another sort of beast. It is a similar evil in a
different skin. Every abuser is seeking some kind of control or power over
his or her victim (yes, her -- it isn't only men who abuse);
sexual abusers use sex as their weapon of choice, where verbal batterers
might use words or physical batterers might use their fists. It can be
difficult to tell if you are (or have been) sexually abused, as the
dynamics surrounding sexual abuse are incredibly complex. I will certainly
add more stuff on this subject as I am able; my own story includes a
section on sexual abuse.
Following is a list of ways to tell if someone is
emotionally battering you, paraphrased from Patricia Evans' books, The
Verbally Abusive Relationship (Adams, 1992), and
Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out. (Adams, 1993.) If you answer
"yes" to a significant number of the following questions, you are likely
being verbally abused.
- Withholding: does the abuser stop speaking to you when
displeased? do they ignore you? do they withdraw affection in order to
punish you? do they blame you for this?
- Countering: does the abuser tell you you're wrong if you don't
with them? do they argue against your every thought? do they tell you your
feelings are wrong? do they tell you that you don't know what you're
talking about? do they forbid you from having your own opinions?
- Discounting: does the abuser ignore or disparage your feelings?
they put down your feelings? do they dismiss you with statements such as,
"you're too sensitive" or "you don't have a sense of humor" or "you're
just taking it wrong"?
- Ridicule (Verbal Abuse Disguised as Jokes): does the abuser
of you? do they ridicule you regarding subjects about which you are
particularly sensitive? do they seem to enjoy it? do they accuse you of
not being able to take a joke? do they use sarcasm to put you down?
- Blocking and Diverting: does the abuser change the subject when
try to bring something up? do they divert serious discussions by accusing
you of various things?
- Accusing and Blaming: does the abuser blame you for everything
goes wrong? do they accuse you of hurting them when you tell them your
feelings? do they accuse you of having affairs? are they jealous?
- Judging and Criticizing: does the abuser find fault with
you do? are they extremely hard to please? do they tell you you "ought" or
"should" do things a certain way?
- Trivializing: does the abuser belittle what you say? do they
your feelings or accomplishments? do they insult you when you express
pride in your own abilities? do they act as if your work is no big
- Undermining: does the abuser squelch your enthusiasm with
comments such as, "You wouldn't understand", or, "You'll never make it"?
do they sabotage your ideas by pointing out all the ways in which they
might fail? do they interrupt you when you need time alone?
- Threatening: does the abuser threaten you, overtly or covertly?
they threaten you with violence? do they threaten you with emotional
- Name-calling: does the abuser use vulgarities to insult you? do
call you cruel names? do they use terms of endearment with intense
- Forgetting: does the abuser make a promise and then "forget" to
it? do they pretend not to remember certain incidents or discussions? do
they pretend not to remember prior agreements?
- Ordering: does the abuser order you to do something instead of
do they demand things?
- Denial: does the abuser deny that certain things happened? do
tell you that they didn't say something, or that you never saw something
- Abusive Anger: does the abuser erupt into a rage when they are
do they scream, yell, or shout? do they hurl obscenities? does their body
language become more aggressive? do they stomp, strut, hit things, or hit
you? do they become red in the face? do they throw things? do they
physically get in your way, or follow you from room to room? do they snap
at you? are they usually irritable? does all of this usually take place in
private, when you are alone? (It's a sure sign things are escalating if
the abuser attacks you in public.) does the abuser blame you for their
Myths and Lies
- The victim deserves whatever abuse she or he receives. (Don't
get me started on this one.)
- Verbal abuse isn't really abuse. Yes it is, and it's incredibly
effective -- rapists often use it to paralyze their intended victims, for