Dating The Right Person And Avoiding The Abuser

More than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (1)  Finding yourself in a relationship with a controlling, abusive and/or manipulating individual can be disheartening – or worse – heartbreaking. Staying in a relationship with this type of individual can do long-term harm to your self-esteem, your health, and your relationships with others.

Romantic relationships with a loving, supportive and understanding individual can be wonderful experiences. Most relationships start out with both individuals on their best behavior. It’s all sweet, courteous and polite. We are after all trying to sell ourselves to the other person. Unfortunately, some individuals are better at hiding their personality and behavior problems than others. And this is how the unwary become ensnared in a relationship with “another loser!”.

Behaviors that will “out” an abuser.

  • ANY rough treatment, including pushing, grabbing, slapping, hitting, holding you down or anything you wouldn’t do to your mother!
  • They make verbal threats and will discount your feelings
  • They have a quick or scary temper.
  • They put you down.
  • They go from being mean to being real sweet
  • It is always YOUR fault. They never accept blame.
  • They try to limit your outside interest or participation in hobbies.
  • They are constantly “checking up” on you.
  • They publicly embarrass you
  • Your friends and family don’t like them.
  • They don’t like your family and friends

In addition to the “more typical” abuser there are the “extremely dangerous abusers”. These are the physical abusers and psychotics. Detaching from these types of individuals may require professional and legal assistance. They may fake illnesses, pregnancy or diseases as ways to manipulate. They may hit, punch, threaten you with weapons or threaten to kill you, your family or themselves. They may tell wild stories, stalk you, or send pictures of you and your family from times you thought you were alone.

Detaching from this type of individual can be extremely difficult . If you are in a relationship with this type of abuser, please contact your family for support and seek professional assistance in detaching from this individual. The American Psychological Association makes the following recommendations if you are in a threatening relationship: 

What you can do tp protect yourself:

  • Connect with supportive and caring people, not those who might blame you for the abuse.
  • Secure a restraining or protective order if necessary — it prohibits an individual from harassing, threatening, approaching, accosting, or even contacting you. Always keep it with you.
  • Seek help from a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider; contact your doctor or other primary health care provider; engage the services at centers or shelters for battered women.

Safety Planning:

  • Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can tell when you and your children are in danger before it occurs.
  • Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons (e.g., not the kitchen) and there are ways to escape. If arguments begin, try to move to one of those areas.
  • If violence occurs, make yourself a small target — dive into a corner and curl up into a ball, with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
  • If possible, have a phone handy at all times and know what numbers to call for help.
  • Don’t be afraid to call the police.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Pack a bag (include money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes and medicines) and leave it in a safe place or with someone you trust.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
  • Call a domestic violence hotline periodically to assess your options and get support and understanding.

Sources for More Information

American Psychological Association:

Waukesha County Elders and Adult at Risk:

In Milwaukee County - Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee 414.933.2722

In Washington County - Friends of Abused Families, Inc. West Bend 262-334-7298

In Waukesha County - Women's Center, Inc., Waukesha 262-542-3828 or 888-542-3828 or visit them online at:

Domestic Violence Against Men: Know the Signs:

If you are a teen or the parent of a teen check out

If you are LGBT call Milwaukee County Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Milwaukee 414-271-2656

(1)   American Psychological Association, Intimate Partner Violence – Facts and Resources . Retrieved from:



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