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HOW TO READ WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE

Dear Doc:
I am "in love". My boyfriend, however, is really jealous and possessive. Last week, when we got home from an evening of dancing and drinking, he hit me – hard – because he believed I had been flirting with someone else. I hadn't. He was terribly apologetic in the morning and assured me that it would never happen again, but I don't know…What should I do? "In love" in Wintberg.
Dear "In love":
It is not my job or responsibility to tell you what to do. What I can do, however, is tell you how I feel about the things you have shared with me. It is up to you to be responsible for yourself, and to make your own decisions.
I will, however, suggest that you connect with one of the domestic violence programs. On St. Thomas, that is the Family Resource Center, at 776-3966; on St. Croix, it's the Women's Coalition, at 773-9272; on St. John, it's The Safety Zone at 693 or 690-SAFE (7233). What you will learn is that what happened to you was an example of domestic violence.
It is against the law to hit another person, and his jealousy and possessiveness are signs of future problems. It is seldom that once a person starts hitting another person that they stop this of their own accord, despite the best of intentions.
There appears to be a cycle of violence, that starts with tensions building up, leads to an outburst of violent behavior that frequently grows increasingly violent over time, and is followed by what we call a "honeymoon period", where the partner is apologetic, loving and attentive, until the tensions start building up again.
The violence you describe is often a mechanism for obtaining and maintaining his power and control over you. If your partner is one who seems to have issues regarding power and control, it is likely that this was only the first of many attempts to use violence to exert his control.
Let me share some ways you can tell whether or not you are in a potentially or actually abusive relationship; there are abusive relationships which transcend the physical. Them may be emotionally or verbally abusive as well. Here are some things to look for.
— I feel afraid of him.
— I am too ashamed to tell my family or friends.
— I am blamed for his outbursts; i.e., if I had cooked the meal right, cleaned up the house, or not flirted, he would not have hit me.
— He won't let me talk or go out with my family and friends.
— I can't tell the doctor where my bruises come from.
— He criticizes everything I do.
— I need his approval for everything I do.
— He calls me names.
— He promises that it is going to be the last time.
— I am afraid to get up in the morning because I don't know what kind of mood he's going to be in.
–He threatens my life if I don't do as I am told.
–If you checked one or more, talk to someone you trust about what you are experiencing. Talking is the first step in getting help and protecting yourself. Call one of the Agencies listed above.
You might appreciate "A Victim's Bill of Rights":
We have the right NOT to be abused.
We have the right to anger over past beatings.
We have the right to choose to change the situation.
We have the right to request and expect assistance from the police or social agencies.
We have the right to want a better role model of communication for us and our children.
We have the right to be treated as an adult.
We have the right to leave the battering environment.
We have the right to privacy.
We have the right to express our thoughts and feelings.
We have the right to develop individual talents and abilities.
We have the right to legally prosecute the abusing partner.
We have the right not to be perfect.

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