Gain Insight: With Abusive Fiance
Pat Palmeri of Insight Counseling & Psychological Assessment Paris Texas, is here to answer your questions. Use the form below to ask the therapist.
I am 23 and have been with my fiancé for two years. I love him dearly. The problem is that he has been very abusive the past four months or so. He yells at me,
he tells me that I am wrong constantly, and it seems like I cannot make him happy. It wasn’t always like this. He treated me like a queen and now I’m not worth
his time. He has never hit me but this is still abuse, right? Please help.
Dear not worth his time,
What you are experiencing is quite typical of abusive relationships. Everything goes along beautifully, then after a few months the relationship begins to crumble and you find yourself dealing with someone you don’t know. At the beginning you feel swept off your feet, “He knows me so well. He is everything I have been looking for in a lover.” Or so you think. The courtship is wonderful and for a time the relationship feels very good. The profile of an abuser is the following:
- Pushes for quick involvement. Claims “love at first sight,” and pressure for commitment.
- If male, he believes in stereotyped gender roles and male supremacy. Dominates partner, requires conformity to traditional roles.
- Blames victim for “provoking” abuse.
- Abusive in past relationships. Abuse is not situational; it carries over from one relationship to the next.
- Very jealous and possessive. Isolates victim from friends and family. Accuses victim of flirting, infidelity. May refuse to let victim work.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Others see abuser as a good partner and parent; behind closed doors, abuser is angry and aggressive.
- Experiences most emotions in the form of anger.
- Violent temper, may include hitting or throwing objects.
- Uses sex as a form of aggression. Sex is imposed rather than mutual.
- Dependent on victim for all emotional needs, blames others for own feelings. Unrealistic expectations of relationship.
- Easily insulted, takes small setbacks as personal attacks. Hypersensitive. Is always right.
- Cruel to animals and/or children. Punishes them brutally, has unrealistic expectations of their abilities, insensitive to their suffering.
- Quickly changes moods. Charming one minute, abusive the next. Depressed.
- Checks up on victim’s whereabouts, activities, spending, etc. Claims to be concerned for victim’s safety, but intent is to monitor behavior and control decisions.
- Minimizes the seriousness of the abuse.
The learned response of the victim:
- Doesn’t like herself; tries to justify the batter’s behavior. Low self-esteem, places little importance on her own feelings and needs.
- Difficult to set limits for herself, feels that she needs to be “Superwoman” to keep abuser happy.
- Believes abuser will change; is controlled by the abuser.
- Blames self for abuser’s actions: attempts to change abuse. Guilt.
- Isolated and kept away from friends and family, or resources for help. May also withdraw from people because of feelings of shame or embarrassment.
- Denies the extent of the problem in order to survive; generally suppresses anger because it is too dangerous.
- Helplessness. This feeling is reinforced if victim tries to leave abuser and fails.
- Learned that society condones violence against women either in the childhood home or in later attempts to get help
Saying, “I can’t leave because I love him,” is totally irrelevant. Safety is the issue here, not love. One of the things, as a therapist, I will never understand is how “love” can be so misconstrued. Love is gentle, caring, nurturing, giving, creating a safe environment, etc. Love is the absence of fear, aggressiveness, hate, mistrust, manipulation for personal gain, and this list also goes on and on too.
If any of this looks familiar to you I suggest you run, do not walk, to the nearest exit!!!
I would like to thank “My Sister’s House,” PO Box 71171, North Charleston, SC 29415 for having this profile on their website. Their phone numbers are: (843) 747-4069 and (800) 273-HOPE. They have a 24 hour a day hotline. They also provide a domestic violence safety plan as well as information for teens on their website. There are other sites with more in-depth information and further insight into the psychological profile of the abuser.
Patricia Palmeri, MA, LPC