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Don't Choose Abuse

Updated on August 10, 2014

Know Your Boyfriend's MO (Modus Operandi = mode of operation)

Abuse often masquerades as love. How savvy are you when it comes to recognizing signs that indicate your boyfriend may be an abuser or potential abuser?

One in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship. (Bureau of Justice Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000). This means chances are you or someone you know has been or will be involved in this type relationship. Don’t let it be you. Avoid involvement in abusive relationships by becoming familiar with the disguises abuse wears and knowing your boyfriend’s MO.

Extreme jealously and overly attentive behavior may, at first glance, be misconstrued as being romantic. In reality, these actions may be early warning signs that all is not well in a relationship. That extra bit of attention, while flattering, also makes it difficult to recognize this as a warning sign until the relationship slips more and more into controlling behavior.

An abuser has an endless supply of tactics to bring their victims under control. Among them are physical and emotional scare tactics, manipulation and guilt. If one tactic isn’t getting the desired result, another will be employed.

What To Look For

  • Characteristics of a potential abuser:
  • Controlling behavior
  • Placing blame on others for his problems or actions
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Attentive and charming in public, especially in initial stages of relationship

Typical actions of an abuser:

  • Keeping you away from family and friends
  • Hitting
  • Putting you down verbally
  • Bruising or hurting you in places others won’t see
  • Pushing for quick involvement in early stages of relationship

Examples of controlling through guilt:

  • Why did you make me hit you? I didn’t want to.
  • You know I can’t control my temper. Why did you make me mad?
  • You can’t leave me. I know I need help, but I can’t do it alone.

Manipulation tactics used after battering episodes:

  • Crying, begging forgiveness
  • Promises that it will never happen again
  • Pouring on the charm
  • Giving you your way until he gets you under control again

Scare tactics batterers may use:

  • Threatening to hurt your pets, your family or you
  • Throwing things or driving in a dangerous manner to intimidate
  • Displaying rage
  • Breaking up with you with no intention of leaving you alone

Violence Cycle

1. Tension Builds
2. Abuse Takes Place
3. Apologies, excuses, amends
Hitting, slapping, kicking
I didn't mean it
Yelling and Put Downs
It won't happen again
Actions to Invoke Fear
Let's go buy you something nice

Don't Lose Yourself to Abuse


Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Culture, alcohol, drugs and an abusive family background are all possible contributors to domestic violence. It is a learned behavior that crosses all racial, cultural and social lines. Batterers come from all walks of life, as do the victims.

If you think you may be in an abusive relationship but aren’t really sure, answer the following questions:

  • Do you find yourself changing your actions/answers to avoid a fight?
  • Are you afraid of being alone with your boyfriend?
  • Does he try to force you to do things you aren’t comfortable with?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, you may be in an abusive situation. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 and get help or ask for more information.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link below): “Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience dating violence. In a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey). About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey).”

Arming yourself with knowledge and awareness is the best way to avoid involvement in abusive relationships. If you or someone you know does experience dating violence, be aware that there are places to get help. Talk with your parent, your minister or a trusted teacher. If those are not viable options for you, then check online for teen hotlines and resources. Begin by entering “teen dating violence” in your search engine to get a list of sites to visit. The site for Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

has fact sheets to help teens deal with difficult situations and provides much more information. The choice is yours. Don’t be a victim. Don’t choose abuse.

Tell Someone

What To Do?
Who To Tell?
Expect Respect
Know That Love Doesn't Hurt
Teacher or Pastor
Speak Up - Tell Someone
Call the Hotline


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    • Karen Ray profile image

      Karen Ray 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      I appreciate your comment. Thanks for reading.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is so important that writers carry the torch for topics like this, and raise awareness. Abuse is an epidemic in this country, and this article is very important. Well done.