In an online article, Lisa Twerski, LCSW, identifies different types of tactics often used by abusers. This is only a partial list, but recognizing even several of these tactics in your own relationship can help you put a name to what has been going on and help clarify events or conversations that until now might have been confusing:
Control Through Isolation
Does your spouse (try to) prevent you from spending time with friends or family by either aggressively preventing you or by subtly making it difficult? (For example, does he or she pick a fight, act miserable when everyone gets together, and embarrass you so that you don’t feel it’s worth it, etc.)
Does your spouse watch your every move, calling you several times a day to check up on you?
Do you have to account for every minute of your time, give detailed descriptions of your every move?
Expect you to only do things, go places and get together with people he approves of?
Has he tried to undermine your attempts at schooling or working?
Control Through Finances
Are you on a strict budget but your spouse is not? Do you have to account for every penny?
Does your spouse harass you over every expenditure, questioning you endlessly, but expects to be able to make financial decisions as he or she sees fit?
Do you have to hand over any money you make, but don’t actually have access to money, except for what your husband decides to give you?
Do you find yourself lying about or hiding money, because you’re worried that you might not have any when you need it?
Control Through Sexual Violence
Does your spouse force you to have relations when you don’t want to, or force you to engage in acts that make you feel uncomfortable?
Does he touch you or force you to have relations during niddah?
Does he criticize you, say that you don’t match up to other women, intimidate, or tell you outright that other women in his life have been much more satisfying?
Control Through Emotional Abuse
Does your spouse put you down or call you names?
Does he threaten to harm you, your family, and your children or say that he will take the children away from you?
Does he blame you for everything that goes wrong, including his behavior towards you?
Does he do things purposely to scare you, i.e. driving very fast and dangerously, insisting on allowing the children to do things that he knows you don’t feel are safe, etc.?
Has your spouse ever destroyed things that you cared about, like family photos, personal possessions, in order to ‘punish’ you?
Does he apologize, only to do the same (kind of) thing again? Or does he use an apology as a way to say: this matter is closed; you should be over it now or shut up?
Control Through Physical Violence
Does your spouse throw or break things when he or she is angry?
Does he or she punch walls?
Does your spouse block your way, get close and intimidating, and stop just short of physically assaulting you (or that’s what you worry about)?
Does he or she ever push you, hit you or physically harm you in any way?”
If you spot any of these signs you can call the Shalom Task Force hotline at 1-888-883-2323. The hotline is confidential and without caller ID to ensure full anonymity for callers. If you are looking for signs of controlling and abusive behavior, I highly recommend a visit to www.shalomtaskforce.org. Since 1993, Shalom Task Force has been at the forefront of the issue of domestic violence in the Jewish community. Their website is filled with articles that can help victims understand more about the issue.
Next week, Part 17: Breaking the Silence
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To order “First Aid For Jewish Marriages” go to www.JewishMarriageSupport.com.