Thursday, April 27, 2017

Warning Signs Of A Potentially Abusive Partner

Dear Lit Loves,

As many of you know in my recent book entitled Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life written under my pen name of Grace Sutherlin, I discuss in detail how I extracted myself from my first marriage riddled with emotional, mental, and physical domestic abuse.  During many of my book signings and speaking engagements, many attendants have asked me what the warning signs are of a potentially abusive domestic partner.  In an endeavor to give you the most accurate information, I have compiled the following list from Northwestern University's Women's Center as well as the book titled When Violence Begins at Home:  A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse by K.J. Wilson.  Herewith is a list of warning signs/symptoms:

1)  A person who has committed prior abuse with another partner in the past.  Honestly, you can actually go online to a local county government court website, insert the name of an individual and sometimes a date of birth, and any arrests will be noted.  Also, it is rather easy to "google" a person's full name and discover quite a bit of information.  And you can often tell a great deal about a person just from their social media posts and pictures.  If an individual has had any prior restraining orders or arrests due to domestic violence in the past, I would take this as a definite red flag.

2)  Threats Of Violence:  Obviously, anytime someone threatens someone whether openly in public and I would even include threats made to others while driving a vehicle, this should be a warning indicator that the person is capable of volatility and losing control of themselves emotionally.

3)  Breaking Objects:  This type of behavior would include beating on a table, counter, car, or wall as well as throwing objects whether at another person or in the vicinity of another person.  My ex-husband liked to practice his karate kicks coming within inches of my face.  He would also begin driving at excessive speeds and then slam on the breaks just for kicks which could have caused us harm as well as harm to other drivers.  In one instance, he threw my car keys at me and I swiftly moved, and the keys embedded into the wall behind me because he threw them with such force.  This is an indication of major emotional and mental instability.

4)  Use of force during an argument:  If you are in a disagreement with a partner and he/she begins to physically restrain you, push you, or begins shoving or kicking you, this is an obvious sign that the individual is out of control.  I have even heard of instances where an individual was choked by a partner until she agreed to his demands.  This behavior demonstrates clearly that the person is fully capable of further violence and potential escalating violence.  Steer clear would be my advice.

5)  Excessive jealousy.  This type of behavior would come in the form of a partner or person incessantly demanding to know where you have been, who you have been associating with, and making you account for your whereabouts even if you were just at your job working.  Behavior like this is indicative of a person's insecurity and potential possessiveness. 

6)  Controlling Behavior:  When a partner or significant other believes he/she should control your appearance and activities, it's time to rethink remaining in the relationship.  For instance, my ex-husband demanded that I not cut my hair short.  If I had it cut even a half inch of the bottom, he would ridicule me.  Similarly, he also removed the telephone in our home because he wanted me to have no way of interacting with my family or friends (this was during a time before cell phones).  It's just not acceptable behavior and it's a major red flag. 

7)  Quick Involvement:  When you meet someone and they want to marry you within two weeks or make a commitment after a short period of time when you haven't even had the opportunity to really get to know the person, I would rethink the relationship.  This is oftentimes a tactic to pressure a person to make a commitment to someone before they are ready.    If he/she can't wait till you are ready to make that kind of decision, you are most likely better off without that person in my opinion. 

8)  Unrealistic Expectations:  This is when a partner or significant other makes impossible demands of you such as keeping the house spotless, dinner must be ready on a specific schedule, or clothes and laundry must be done immediately and in a specific way.  For example, my ex-husband felt I should be able to buy all groceries for us for an entire week with just forty dollars.  Incredulous.

9)  A Jekyll & Hyde Personality:  When a person has frequent and volatile mood swings or explosiveness.  Anytime a partner or significant other begins demonstrating unusual highs and lows involving his/her moods, I always have my radar tuned.  We've all seen those relationships where one partner hits or beats another brutally and then leaves only to come home bearing flowers saying he/she is sorry.  In this kind of instance, I wouldn't walk, but rather run and get away from the person and the relationship.

10)  Isolation:  This is when a partner or significant other restricts your ability to go somewhere or see people.  It is usually done in order to diminish your support network as he/she is afraid someone in your life would recognize his/her isolating behaviors and advise you this is not healthy behavior.

11)  Grandiose Sense of Self:  This is when a partner thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread.  You should be thrilled they are paying attention to you.  The person wants you to believe you will never find anyone better than him or her.  In other words, a person who is a legend in his/her own mind.  Very arrogant and prizes his/her needs and wants over yours.

12)  Blaming Others:  This type of behavior is when a partner blames all his misery on you or other people.  It couldn't possibly be his/her fault.  Interestingly,  you will hear the abusive partner say after hitting you that he/she had to do it because it was your fault for making him/her mad.  If a partner can't accept responsibility for his/her own mistakes and misdeeds then as far as I'm concerned, he/she is definitely not ready for a potential long-term relationship.

13)  Hypersensitivity:  If a partner or significant other is easily insulted or easily insults others and thinks nothing of it.  It can also happen when a person flies into a rage of hostility over a failed test, a traffic ticket, or he/she did not get a raise at work.  In my experience, it can also be when a partner thinks he/she is always the smartest person in the room and doesn't hesitate to belittle others.

14)  Cruelty toward Animals or Children:  If a partner or significant other suddenly begins hitting or kicking a dog or cat or exhibits over the top hostility toward a child, it is a sign of an aggressive personality.  Any type of abuse like this is never tolerable and should be reported to the authorities immediately.  This type of behavior usually escalates and becomes worse.

15)  Rigid Male/Female Gender Roles:  If a partner displays an attitude whereby he/she believes their partner or significant other should be a servant or slave to him/her, it's definitely not a good sign in my book.  And no I do not think it is justified by the Bible.  The partner or significant other is just extremely stagnated in their views and highly misguided. 

That's it until my next post.

Grace (Amy)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Zero Tolerance For Domestic Violence/North Carolina Domestic Violence Statistics

Dear Lit Loves,

Greetings!  Well, I will proudly let you know that I have let the North Carolina School Superintendent know about my book Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life as many readers as well as current and former teachers have asked me if I had brought the book to anyone's attention on our North Carolina Board Of Education.  The superintendent did respond to my email and assured me he would be taking a look at the book as it addresses real life circumstances of my first year teaching experience in an inner city middle school in North Carolina.  Sadly, other officials that I have contacted have not replied to my efforts to bring the book to their attention or at least they haven't as of April 6th 2017.  I will be doing my dead level best to get word out about the book to many school principals in North Carolina as well as local chapter leaders for The North Carolina Association Of Educators.

Today, I expressly wanted to say that many of you may have heard that Mel B. of The Spice Girls has gotten a restraining order against her husband due to incidents of domestic violence over the course of their ten year marriage.  Many folks already are aware I found myself in an abusive relationship at a young age, was married for five years, and finally had the courage to walk away from an unhealthy, toxic relationship.  It's not easy.  I know initially I felt scared witless, depressed, and ashamed that I did not leave the relationship sooner or recognize the signs of what many psychologists call a domestic violent personality.  At the same time I felt relief that I no longer had to deal with being  subjected to the living hell that comes with domestic violence.  I had no children with my former spouse so thankfully, once the divorce was finalized I no longer was subjected to contact with him.  The scars of domestic violence remain though and you have the long process of recovering and learning from what happened and how to avoid it in the future.  Out of curiosity I checked for North Carolina Domestic Violence Statistics For 2016 on The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence website and realized this issue is still quite prevalent today and appears to straddle all socioeconomic boundaries.  Take a look at the statistics for 2016 regarding incidences of domestic violence in North Carolina:

North Carolina Domestic Violence Statistics For The Year 2016
( I calculated most of the information from The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.  Remember, these are just reported cases.  Imagine how many more incidents occur weekly that are never reported.)

1)  There were 66 murders classified as domestic violent homicides in N.C. for the year of 2016.

   a)  Of those 66 murders, there were 18 cases in which a female was killed by a boyfriend.  The weapon most used in these cases included a firearm and knife.

  b)  There were 6 cases in which a female was killed by an ex-boyfriend.  The primary weapons used were firearms, knives, and strangulation.

  c)  There were 17 reported cases of wives being killed by a husband.  The weapons most used in these incidents again included firearms and knives.

  d)  There were a reported 8 cases in which husbands or boyfriends were killed by a wife or girlfriend.  The weapons primarily used included firearms.  Interestingly, there was also listed in this report that some deaths in these incidents were caused by unknown means.

  e)  There were 2 cases in which fathers killed their sons and the weapon used was a firearm.

  f)  There were 3 cases in which fathers killed a daughter or daughters mainly using a firearm and hammer.

  g)  We had 1 case in which a stepfather killed a stepdaughter utilizing both a firearm and knife as weapons.

  h)  North Carolina had 2 cases where a girlfriend killed a boyfriend by use of a firearm or knife.

  i)  There was 1 case in North Carolina in which a girlfriend killed her girlfriend and once again the weapon used in the incident was a firearm.

 j)  There were 7 North Carolina cases of male and female deceased victims who had no relation to the individual who committed a domestic violent murder.  These were individuals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Of these 7 cases, 4 unrelated females were killed and 3 unrelated males were killed.

I don't know about you, but these are startling, horrific numbers to me.  It is an issue I also address in my book because I was abused physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially in my prior marriage.. Thank God I was able to remove myself from a volatile relationship and move forward with my life.  These numbers show many folks are not that lucky.  So in my next post I want to take time to go over the warning signs/symptoms exhibited by a potentially domestic violent individual because we all need to be aware of this issue as it may not touch you personally, but you may have someone in your family, an acquaintance, a close friend, or a colleague who is experiencing domestic violence.

Till my next post,