Dear Abby: Please reprint the list of signs of an abuser. I lost the list I had, but I think my husband is one.
We have been married 31 years. The stress is ruining my health. I have no money and no job. He stands in front of the door to keep me from leaving or going anywhere. Should I call a hotline or try to find a women's shelter?
-- End of My Rope
Dear End: While you haven't been battered, your husband's treatment qualifies as emotional abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free number is (800) 799-7233. Do not try to leave without calling it first.
The signs of an abuser are:
*Pushes for quick involvement: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone."
*Jealousy: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone."
*Controlling: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to and where you were; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
*Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be perfect and meet all his needs.
*Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble."
*Blames others for problems and mistakes: It's always someone else's fault if anything goes wrong.
*Makes everyone else responsible for his or her feelings: The abuser says, "You make me angry" instead of, "I am angry" or says, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."
*Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.
*Cruelty to animals and to children: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.
*"Playful" use of force during sex: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.
*Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes you, or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you up with verbal abuse.
*Rigid gender roles: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
*Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to violent very easily.
*Past battering: admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says they made him (or her) do it.
*Threats of violence: Says things like, "I'll break your neck" or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way" or "I didn't really mean it."