Dating & Spousal Abuse: When women are the abusers

Art by Kara Walker
Woman: Are you the abuser in your relationship?

This post is about an issue that we hardly ever talk about: when women are the abusers. It's an indisputable fact that the majority of batterers and abusers are male and their victims are women. Abuse, after all, is about power. However, according to government stats, 5% of abusers are women. Yes, ladies can be very abusive too.

Spousal and dating violence is prevalent. We have forgotten how to love one another, how to be sweet with each other. People are angry, in pain, and emotionally sick. And when you are emotionally sick you act out and abuse. Men to women, women to men. Men and women to kids. And sadly, even to elders. It's a national problem. 

Dating and domestic violence touches all tax brackets--the uber wealthy to super poor, the famous and infamous, those with PHD's or  GED's and everyone in between.
When I shared my experience, after so many years of being in the domestic violence closet, so many other professional women came forward with their stories. They whispered in my ear that they too are survivors of abusive relationships. The fascinating thing was that the abuse wasn't always physical. Many women shared that they were verbally and emotionally battered never physically touched. Name calling, jealousy, and emotional battery is extremely common in modern day love. And it's also severely damaging. Emotional wounds fester and take a long time to heal. You get a cut, you get stitches, you get verbally cut down, how do you stitch you up your heart? 

If you are now in a sick relationship please get help. Talk to a friend, a health care provider, or reach out to an organization such as Alianza where you will be a cornucopia of resources that are culturally relevant.  

"When Love Hurts: The Dirty Secret of Dating and Domestic Violence," is one of my favorite chapters in the new edition of my book because it's a solid exploration of dating and spousal abuse in Latino culture. Abuse, it turns out, plays of differently in Latino culture. One of the most fascinating things I've discovered since The New Latina's Bible was released has been the number of men who also started coming up to me to share their stories of living and loving female abusers. Yes, there is a growing number of men who are abused by their girlfriends, spouses, partners, and they are living in shame.

Ladies, if you have been told by your boyfriend, lover, husband, partner that you are controlling and if you find yourself shouting and fighting with your partner, often, very often, check yourself.  Do you recognize a girlfriend, sister, aunt, mother or you in any of the behaviors listed below?

Do you:
  • Curse or insult him with harsh and demeaning words? In private, in front of family and friends.
  • Control or want to change the way he dresses, looks, laughs, etc? 
  • Make fun of his dreams, goals, opinions? 
  • Call him names, stupid, lazy, an asshole?
  • Get in his face when you disagree with him?
  • Control his email, cell phone FB, Twitter, Instagram pages? 
  • Extreme text / call him when he is not near you?
  • Control the friends he keeps?
  • Threaten to hurt him, yourself, the kids, a pet if he breaks up with you?
There are more signs here. And here. 

Healthy love is possible

A healthy relationship, even when you have been the abuser or the abused, is attainable. Believe it. Get help. A therapist, a spiritual counselor, a helpline.

Supported. Safe. Free. Happy. Those are four pillars of a great healthy relationship.  In the wonderful book, True Love, Thich Nhat Han, the Buddhist monk, writes about four key elements in a healthy loving relationships: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. 

Cultivate these four in your heart for you: loving kindness, compassion, joy and freedom and you will find peace of heart and then share it with others. The  beginning to a healthy you whether abused or abusing takes a first step: recognize. Where you are at doesn't much matter as much as taking the first small step that will take you where you want to be.

Healing is possible. Believe it.  


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