Copyright (c) 2002 Susan S. Levine, All Rights Reserved
Nobody wants to think their prospective husband or wife is capable of assault or murder. Sadly, however, anyone in law enforcement can tell you it's far more common than you'd like to believe. Newspapers and magazines often run stories of murders committed by one spouse upon the other.
There is a way to protect yourself from a potentially dangerous mate before you fall into a trap. It's called the "One Strike Rule," and it can be applied to physically and verbally abusive behavior. The way it works is simple; no matter how good-looking a man is, how much money he has or how sophisticated he may appear, if he hits you ONCE, he's history. There are NO exceptions. The same applies if he calls you the "B" or "C" words . I don't need to spell them out, do I?
You may be thinking, that's much too easy, it couldn't possibly work. You are half right. It is easy, and it does work. How do I know? Because it was a rule I made over 20 years ago, when I first started dating. I made a promise to myself that if any man I dated EVER hit me, just once, that was it. He was out of my life from that day forward. I wouldn't listen to any meaningless apologies. There wouldn't be a "next time." Happily enough, there was never a first time.
So far, my self-imposed rule has worked very well. In my dating life prior to marriage, during the eleven years I was married, and to this day, no man has physically hurt me, or used cruel, insulting names. Not once. There's no reason you cannot adopt the one-strike rule for yourself too. It could save you from years of physical agony and emotional heartache. As long as you stand firm, you will succeed.
Tough Questions For You To Ask NOW
Are you currently in a physically or verbally abusive relationship? Given the high number of domestic abuse and spousal murder cases, you might want to ask yourself some tough questions before you even think of getting married to your current partner. Because violent partners can be men or women, questions are grouped under the following categories: Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames. Some questions may repeat for each one.
Although some women have used physical aggression and violence, physical abuse is more commonly associated with men because they are generally stronger. Dangerous women are more likely to take their rage out on children, who are much easier targets.
1. What do you really know about the man you wish to marry or are currently living with?
2. What attracted you to him?
3. Does he insist on making all the decisions about what you will do or where you will go?
4. How does he typically react to your going anywhere by yourself?
5. Has he always been attracted to a certain "type" of woman?
6. Has he insisted that you change any part of your appearance, such as hair color, facial features or breast size?
7. Do his moods shift suddenly; calm one minute, in a violent rage the next?
8. Has he pressured you to move with him, far from your family and friends?
9. Does he insist that he always drive?
10. Is he jealous of the time you spend with family members?
11. Does he make insulting comments about your family and friends?
12. How often does he hit you? What excuses does he give for his behavior? Does he blame you for his outbursts?
13. Do you see his uncontrollable jealousy as a sign of how much he loves you?
14. Are members of his own family uneasy around him, or even afraid of him?
15. Does he make promises he never keeps?
16. Has he ever threatened you if you leave him?
17. Has he repeatedly been arrested for assault on other women or men?
18. Does he often leave you without money or a car?
19. Does he insist you be extremely thin, and keep to a specific weight?
20. Are you constantly worried about setting him off?
21. Has he convinced you that you cannot survive without him?
22. Does he treat you as a person or a possession?
23. Does he humiliate and insult you in front of friends and family?
24. Does he control all the money?
25. Does he blame you for everything that goes wrong in his life or yours?
26. Is he addicted to alcohol or drugs?
27. Has he asked you more than once to quit your job so he can "take care of you?"
28. Does he control visits to and from your family?
29. Has he pushed you into taking drugs, and if so, did you take them just to avoid getting hit?
30. Does he call family and friends to check where you are?
Answering these questions could be the hardest thing you ever do. But it could also mean the very real difference between life and death. If you think being murdered by a boyfriend or spouse could never happen to you, read one or all of the books by true crime writer Ann Rule, listed below. In each case, the victim believed the same.
A Rose For Her Grave
Dead By Sunset
Women who need help to spot patterns of abusive behavior in their partners will greatly benefit from reading Men Who Hate Women and The Women Who Love Them by Dr. Susan Forward. As a clinical psychologist who has helped to free women from the emotional scars of verbal and even physical abuse, she lends her invaluable knowledge and experience to anyone who has the strong desire to break the chains. Spotting these patterns may help you get out of the trap before you fall in too deep.
Research on women who kill indicates that they generally do so by stealth, rather than strength. Their weapons are typically poison or guns, since most women cannot win in a physical fight with stronger partners. Poison and guns do the job more efficiently. And for the majority of these women, the motive is usually money or revenge (for leaving or attempting to leave).
Women may not display as many signs of potentially dangerous behavior as men, but they are there for those who have the courage to look. Questions to ask yourself include:
1. What do you really know about the woman you wish to marry or are currently living with?
2. What attracted you to her?
3. Does she only like very expensive gifts?
4. Does she insist on having your undivided attention at all times?
5. Has she ever "casually" suggested you take out a large life insurance policy? If so, for how much?
6. Has she only dated men with fortunes? Are they still alive?
7. Has she asked you to take certain "vitamins" or other medication that you don't normally take?
8. How has she reacted to your children? With affection or animosity?
Before He Wakes, by Jerry Bledsoe
Bodies of Evidence, by Chris Anderson & Sharon McGehee
Everything She Ever Wanted
Bitter Harvest and Everything She Ever Wanted are titles by true crime writer Ann Rule, who was herself a policewoman for 16 years before she began writing. Each story is a chilling reminder of what can happen to men and women who dismiss the feelings of unease about their partners and take the final--and potentially deadly--step of marriage. To learn more about Ann's books, visit her website Annrules.com.
For those of you who prefer TV to books, two excellent programs on the Arts and Entertainment network (A&E) are "Investigative Reports" with Bill Kurtis, and "City Confidential," narrated by Paul Winfield. Many of the stories shown are detailed and chilling accounts of what I call murders by mates. Each program features not only the particulars of the crime committed, but also efforts of police detectives and prosecuting attorneys to bring those killers to trial and conviction.
Where to Go For Help
One of the worst feelings of domestic violence victims is the sense of isolation, and having nowhere to go for help. Contrary to what an abusive mate has told you, there are resources available for you. Below is a list of links to websites to click on. Get more information, find out what you need to do to get out, and read stories from other survivors of domestic violence.