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 Post subject: When it happens to you
PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 9:43 pm 
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Hey! Mary S here (had to change my name so I'm now Mars Bar)

I would like the gang to have a discussion (lively or otherwise) on domestic violence. I wondered if any one had any stats out there on the topic, any suggestions, etc. I will put a few out for discussion....

Many victims* have no idea what steps to take when domestic violence enters their lives.

* I dislike this word - I experienced domestic violence this week and feel like I am far from a victim

I offer the following:

1. Tell as many people as possible...the more your neighbours, friends and family know, the better your network of assistance.
2. Sever all ties.
3. Change your locks.
4. Take pictures.
5. File a police report or press charges.
6. Ask people to check in on you on a regular basis.
7. Take a self defence class (MANY if need be to drill in what you need to know and what you have to do)
8. Watch your back (and your front). BE ALERT!!!!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:52 am 
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I am very sorry to hear this, Mary.

Just for the record... Women aren't the only victims of domestic violence. Men - particularly those who can take care of themselves - are often victims as well. It's my experience that it happens often to bait the male into responding, which NEVER works out for the male. When the police show up, the man is always the one to be handcuffed and taken away.

Pictures, pictures, pictures. If it was serious, it will leave a mark. If it leaves a mark, it is evidence. If it is documented, a case can be made. In my case, pictures and evidence saved me much trouble. Scratches on the back (indicating someone attempting to cease and desist), torn clothing, mustard on a shirt, cuts on the face, you name it.

Writing down a detailed account of what happens helps.

If there's a chance this may happen again, have a tape recorder available. Again... the more objective evidence there is, the better.

What to do beyond that just depends. I agree about cutting off ties if possible. That can be so very difficult if deep love is involved. It's going to hurt, no matter what. If there is a marriage and children involved, it isn't that simple.

Changing locks, getting an alarm system, getting a gun (if it's legal), etc. are all important if you're dealing with a sociopath. There are some really sick people out there.

Learn to drive with the eyes constantly watching the rear view mirror. If you feel like you are being followed, start driving in circles. If you continue to be followed, call 911. Been there, done that.

Carry your cell phone with you at all times.

I highly recommend reading Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Get counseling. If you have the means out of pocket great, if you don't go through existing health care coverage, a local clinic, or non-profit groups such as faith-based organizations.

Keep in community. Many women find that they lose contact with all their friends, because the friends were shared, and end up living in isolation. Better to go join a church, even if it isn't your particular belief, in order to quickly develop community that it is to have community at all.

Be alert also means not trying to talk yourself out of your gut instinct. If it doesn't feel right, honor that. Worry about whether anyone thinks it silly later, after you're back to feeling safe and secure.

And, while men do experience being on the receiving end of domestic violence, the overwhelming majority of cases involve men hurting women and their children. So be on the lookout for important warning signs such as beating/torturing animals, destroying property, use of violent language in threats or during arguing, etc.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:43 pm 
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Hi Bill. Thanks for your response. I hope others will join in here.

Firstly, do NOT be sorry - I don't want the sympathy. I'm certainly not sorry for myself, I'm more relieved at this point than anything. I'm in a great place emotionally and I'm pretty sure I have my Uechi training to thank for that!

Secondly, there was no personal damage to me. (I was, I guess, one of the lucky ones). The things that got broken and damaged can be replaced and I'm extremely grateful that my cat wasn't hurt. Everything has been documented, the locks are being changed on Monday and I have a super support team who is checking on me and really care about me.

The police report has been filed, the cell phone never leaves my side, I'm on high alert and at the same time I have a real sense of inner calm because I'm ready...just in case.

I have read de Becker...that book should be a bible for all!


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 Post subject: Dark thoughts...
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:47 am 
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Mars Bar, I must admit that when I first read your post, I did not feel compelled to write, even though I recognize domestic violence as SUCH an important issue. I came back again today, noticed that no further replies had been posted....despite 75 views. I still didn't feel like I had anything to say....which surprised me.

I like to challenge myself to consider any automatic thoughts (aka prejudices) that I find myself having, so I tried to understand why I had nothing to say. In thinking about my initial response to NOT respond, I encountered a few dark thoughts. I thought I'd bring them up to hopefully generate the kind of open discourse you were hoping for.

You said: "...I'm pretty sure I have my Uechi training to thank for that!"
My automatic dark thought: how could someone with martial arts training (really thinking about the emotional training that comes with martial arts...self-respect, confidence, etc) put up with an abusive relationship, choose an abusing partner, be so casual in stating, "I experienced domestic violence this week."

Hurts to think about really. My *rational* response is far more compassionate, and I didn't really *think* all those phrases, exactly, but I *felt* them, and I think that is why I didn't have anything to say. Perhaps it is why others didn't respond yet too. Maybe it is why people in general have a hard time responding to or even identifying relationship abuse.

Maybe I'm the only one.

Maybe we all ought to look a little harder at an uncomfortable topic. This topic has come up in other fora, but not much in Women-and-the-Martial-Arts lately; anyone else ready to speak up? Mars Bar is right....we should talk about this.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:08 pm 
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A challenge? :lol:

The conundrum is how to acknowledge another's experience without dwelling on our own. Kudos to anyone, male or female, willing to share their experience with violence (regardless of the 'battlefield') in order to facilitate change.


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 Post subject: Re: Dark thoughts...
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:49 pm 
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chernon wrote:
My automatic dark thought: how could someone with martial arts training (really thinking about the emotional training that comes with martial arts...self-respect, confidence, etc) put up with an abusive relationship, choose an abusing partner, be so casual in stating, "I experienced domestic violence this week."


Life is where expectation meets reality. There is nothing magical about martial arts training and it does not provide a cloak of invulnerability or the promise of a life without strife or difficulty. A concrete benefit of martial arts training is increased self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is your belief in yourself to do get stuff done; whether that stuff be old skills or new skills. So yes, Mary go into a very unfortunate situation; however, when she took a look around and realized the trouble that she was in, she left. And she does indeed have her training, her wonderful sense of self, and her spirit to thank for helping her to take that courageous step of self-preservation.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:12 pm 
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The National Women's Health Information Center
Violence Against Women webpage:
http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence/

If you're a victim of abuse or violence at the hands of someone you know or love, or you are recovering from an assault by a stranger, you are not alone.

To get immediate help and support
call the National Domestic Violence Hotline
at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit
http://www.ndvh.org/

or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline
at 1-800-656-4673 or visit
http://www.rainn.org/get-help/national- ... ne-hotline

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 Post subject: What is Abuse?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:12 pm 
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What is Abuse?

Sometimes it is hard and confusing to admit that you are in an abusive relationship, or to find a way out. There are clear signs to help you know if you are being abused. If the person you love or live with does any of these things to you, it's time to get help:

* monitors what you're doing all the time
* criticizes you for little things
* constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
* prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school
* gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
* controls how you spend your money
* controls your use of needed medicines
* humiliates you in front of others
* destroys your property or things that you care about
* threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets, or does hurt you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
* uses or threatens to use a weapon against you
* forces you to have sex against your will
* blames you for his or her violent outbursts

source: http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence/signs/

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 Post subject: words have power...
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:07 pm 
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Mary,
I hate the word “victim” as well, as it engenders pity and sympathy more than support and help. It also encourages self-pity, shame, and feeling overwhelmed instead of self-confidence and self-worth. I prefer the words abuser and abused because they are more honest and less permanent in nature; although, I would not say the words are any less brutal, emotionally or otherwise.

I’m sorry you had to face this particular beast. No one, male or female, deserves such treatment, and it can often come as such a shock and shake your personal self-image in ways that are surprising and painful. Know this: you do not have to be stupid, oblivious, simple, overly trusting, dependent or any of those things to be abused. That falls cleanly under the category of “blaming the victim”, which is shabby logic/lack of experience at best and thoughtless/cruel/superficial - - among other things - -at worst.

I’ve been debating on responding since I saw this post, as the topic is not a warm fuzzy for me by any stretch of the imagination, but I applaud you for bringing it up in this appropriate forum. I cannot shirk from responding when you and others have put yourself out there. I will try, Harlan, to not dwell unnecessarily on my own experiences, but I will post several thoughts that may or may not help others to understand…just remember these are coloured through my own perceptions and experiences.

So, let me break this into a couple of posts, as I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and some personal perspectives to share. I hope this spurs some of the discussion you were looking for,Mary, as I would love to hear what others have to say and share. The biggest and most pervasive problem with domestic abuse is the shame that is so often and easily attached to it. Congrats on overcoming that particular bugaboo.

Thank you for bringing this topic forward.
Shana

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:09 pm 
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Bill-You are correct that women are not the only ones that are abused, and I’ve seen several other posts on this site that go into great detail about how men can be “set up” as the instigator in a domestic dispute. That is important to note, but not really the topic here. We’re not discussing setting someone up for the blame as much as how the abused can protect her or himself during and after an abusive instance. These are actually two very different situations.

Keep in mind that much domestic abuse, particularly the insidious type known as emotional abuse, go unreported. Also, as noted on the National Institute of Health site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/domesticviolence.html
Quote:
There is no typical victim. It happens among people of all ages. It affects those of all levels of income and education.


According to the American Bar association’s website: http://new.abanet.org/domesticviolence/Pages/Statistics.aspx
Quote:
Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:
• Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses.
• 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse at were female.
• Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
• 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.


Lastly, while I’m stalling with facts…if anyone feels they might be abused, call the National Domestic violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233). It provides crisis intervention and referrals to resources such as safe shelters, counseling, etc. (I see that Dana has already posted this number...but it's good info, so leaving it in my post)

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Shana


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:14 pm 
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________________________________________
Originally posted by chernon My automatic dark thought: how could someone with martial arts training (really thinking about the emotional training that comes with martial arts...self-respect, confidence, etc) put up with an abusive relationship, choose an abusing partner, be so casual in stating, "I experienced domestic violence this week."
________________________________________
Chernon,
First, I want to clearly state that I am not accusing you or anyone on this forum of being purposefully cruel or thoughtless. The simple fact of the matter is that the public perception of abuse is of a poor, uneducated, (often barefoot and pregnant) woman who just made bad choices and isn’t brave enough or smart enough to get out. It’s pervasive, insidious, and a very wrong perception.

Like you said, a lot of people have a hard time identifying with relationship abuse…if they haven’t personally experienced it. Also, shame is a huge part of any abuse, whether it’s rational or not, it is there. That’s part of why it’s so under-reported. There are probably a large number of people known to each of us that have experienced some type of relational abuse, from a momentary punch or slap to long term emotional abuse to serious reoccurring and violent episodes. The range of abuse is huge.

I, myself, felt that what I experienced was nothing like the bone breaking or huge bruises I’d heard of from the media, so it must not be that big a deal (yeah, this is a rationalization, I realize that NOW). I was wrong. Just because the bruises were hidden and few…just because not all the abuse left physically proof…does not make it any less abusive. Our public perception is part of the problem…a small part to be sure, but a part nonetheless.

Your thoughts, Chernon, are honest and hit a very important and vital concern, that I obliquely addressed in my note to Mary about not having to be “stupid, oblivious, simple, overly trusting, dependent or any of those things to be abused.” As well as the National Institute of Health quote, “There is no typical victim. It happens among people of all ages. It affects those of all levels of income and education.”

I am a college graduate, and consider myself a fairly intelligent, strong, and practical woman, and yet I have experienced abuse. It took me quite a long time to figure out HOW I could have fallen into such a situation, and to stop beating myself up (pun intended) about it. The fact of the matter, IMO, is that you don’t choose an abusing partner. Consciously, you choose someone you love and who you think loves you back. In all fairness, the abuser may truly love the person they abuse…as much as they know how to do so. That doesn’t change the fact that they hurt the person they either love, choose to control, or some twisted area in between.

The casualness of Mary’s comment could be a protective mechanism, could be the simple acceptance of something that cannot be changed, or a combination of many things. Once abuse has happened, there are many that go all maudlin and encourage pity in others. I was not that way, and it appears Mary is not as well. Sh!# happens, and you can deal with it and move on, or get mired in it. I applaud Mary for taking active steps to protect herself and also bring the issue to light.

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Shana


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:22 pm 
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That said, let me answer what I think is your real question…how can smart, strong women let this sort of thing happen to them?

I can only speak to my personal experiences and what I have read since then. So please keep that in mind (and apologies if TMI, you have been warned). For me, it was a combination of many things. One, I was young and seeking somewhat of a father figure, of which my ex was all too happy to supply. Two, I was in an emotionally vunerable spot, having lost my mother at 16, and suddenly an independent minor two years later. Three, my ex was a charming, fun, dramatic and extroverted man. Four, the abuse slowly escalated over a long period of time, so slowly that it was fairly advanced before I “snapped out of it” and realized this was not going to get better. Five, there would be long periods of time between the overtly physical abuse…sometimes a year or so…and he would always apologize (sorta). And six, I thought Love would eventually heal the situation, if I only stuck with it and was strong enough. I blame too many romantic tales without strong heroines for that…but I’ll try not to get mired in THAT political discussion here.

I have since read that it is very typical of abusers to gradually separate the abused from their friends and family and to slowly wear away a person’s self confidence. Again, keep in mind this is typical, but not present in all abuse situations. For me, I was transitioning to a new college, on my own for the first time, and had moved away from my closest family and friends. So it was easy to gradually move me away from familiar friends. In other words, I didn’t realize what was happening because I still had contact with my friends and family, but it was infrequent. And I had an all new shared community of friends, which were so full of energy and activity that I didn’t notice the loss.

Our public relationship was also slowly much different than our private interactions. I won’t go into more gory details, but it was a slow erosion of who I consider myself to be. Looking back, I cannot see how I could have allowed that change to happen, as the person who finally left that marriage was a much different person than the one who entered it. I still had my personal beliefs and opinions, but I was less likely to share those or fight over things because it was just too…much. In other words, classic signs of depression, which I know now, but didn’t then. Those that know me now or when I was growing up would probably be surprised. It’s just so…weird to talk about now, really. The emotional and psychological abuse took several years to wear me down, and it obviously didn’t "take", as I finally left after almost 7 years…but it still amazes me that it took me that long to face up to the facts.

Of course hindsight is 20/20…I see warning signs now that I didn’t see then because I was young and foolish enough to believe that if I just loved him enough he would see how wrong his actions were. I see now that his desire to control and his desire to look good to others was far more important than I ever was to him. I also see that the early signs of him getting in my face or backing me into a corner when we fought should have been ALARMS to me that something wasn’t quite right. And I also see now that when he said he was sorry…it was always ”sorry, but”….”I’m sorry, but you really shouldn’t be so pushy, especially when I’m tired…sorry, but you shouldn’t make me angry when I’m drunk...sorry, but I don’t know what came over me. You embarrassed me in front of X, and I just saw red….”

So, the long answer is that smart, intelligent, and strong women can be abused. There is no magical talisman or training that will prevent this situation in all cases. I think a strong community of friends and family with open communication between them is the surest bet to help you protect yourself. Also, as Dana mentioned, trusting your gut instincts and acting on them. There were several times throughout those years that I knew things weren’t quite right, but the human brain is amazing at how it can rationalize anything if it truly wants to do so.

We all have vulnerable moments, and abusers will take advantage of those. So keep your good family relationships and friendships close and strong, and if someone tries to separate you from those relationships….be concerned.

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Shana


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:35 pm 
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A lot of really great suggestions made, and I will only comment on some of them, again through the coloured lenses of my experience so take them as you will:

Tell as many people as possible
I agree to a point, as that is a great way to face the temptation of shame; however, you must accept that some folks will not want to get involved in what they basically see as a personal conflict. Others may have a hard time believing that “good ol’ X, who is so much fun” could do such things…”yeah, he has a temper, but he’d never hurt you. He loves you!”. Mutual friends will be conflicted, in part because they care for you both, and - -honestly - -partly because their personal perceptions and comfort zones have been challenged. Keep the joint friends that you can, but don’t rely soley on that community for support (see below)

Cut all ties
Very often, abuse is simply about control. Depending on the abuser, there could be a danger of escalation or of a seemingly complete change in attitude when you leave...both are dangerous.

Definitely cut ties and get some distance between you! And NEVER see the abuser alone, if you have to see him. I will not say that an abuser cannot change his ways, but the underlying reasons for his (or her) actions have to be addressed. Permanent change cannot be motivated from embarrassement of public opinion,alone, or even from real affection and love for the abused. Love is an amazing and powerful force, but it alone cannot make the lasting change that assures your safety.

My point, as I drift off topic here, is it is very good to cut your ties with the abuser, your immediate safety is the first priority. If you are not married, or linked in any legal way, this is much easier than if you have to come in contact to affect a divorce, etc. But when you cannot cut all immediate ties, always have someone with you, and make sure more than one person knows that you are going to meet with the abuser, when, and where. If necessary, based on circumstance, make that "other” a LEO. Make sure your companions are sympathetic to your concerns, as joint friends can be well-meaning or self-deluding...thinking they are helping you mend trivial rifts by leaving the two of you alone to “work things out”.

So cut ties if you can, but don’t isolate yourself ..Which leads to the next thought

Nurture yourself and build/rebuild your community
Dana’s point is excellent. Community is vital to rebuilding your safety as well as your sense of self. Make sure it’s a nurturing community. If you are in a situation where you have many shared friends/acquaintances, make sure you have non-shared friends to help you through this as well. The choosing up of sides and reflection of self-protection in friends and relatives can be trying and difficult in itself. You may lose some folks, either permanently or temporarily, and you need support that is independent of this conflict.

Nurturing yourself includes a wide range of activities from counseling, to filing a report, to simply getting out of the situation, to allowing the support of others, to allowing you time and space to heal. It is very easy to second guess yourself, blame yourself, be angry with yourself, be angry in general, etc.

Relationships are messy. Even in an abusive situation, I do not believe either party can be completely blameless. However, I do think that there is no excuse for abusing another human being. Protection and defense are not abuse. Standing up for what you believe is not abuse. Knowingly and purposefully harming another for the means of control, intimidation, or spite IS abuse, and should not be tolerated. Even if you feel you might have caused some of the disagreement, abuse is not acceptable in a loving partnership…and that’s what a truly loving relationship should be, IMO, a partnership.

Okay, that’s about all the personal disclosure I can stand or submit you all to…so I welcome your thoughts and comments. I will answer any questions I am comfortable answering and deem fair

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Shana


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:30 pm 
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Wow!!! Some amazing responses!! Thank you all for being willing participants. And thank you as well for your advice and information.

I would like to note one thing - my remark was by no means "casual". I am a very open and honest person by nature...like my momma says - I tell it like it is. :) I'm not a wall flower by any stretch of the imagination (and those who know me on these forums and, indeed, in real life) would probably agree on that. Domestic abuse is a serious matter, one often not discussion, and very few people would ever admit they have been on the receiving end.

I have been a little surprised (and a little proud) of my reaction to what I have been through in the last while and how I reacted when it finally came to a head this last week. I have been very calm, aware, and received some invaluable information from lots of people on things I can do. I will tell you too that it is very easy to become a "victim". I'm a relatively trusting person, willing to give the benefit of the doubt 3 out of 4 times and hate to admit failure at anything, including relationships. Also, more than a few people I've talked to about this have told me they too have been "victims" at one or more points in their lives.

I have been very rational about how to handle the situation, how to be prepared for the future and what is not going to get me through this experience.

Dana, in studying your list I found that I scored (unfortunately a solid 11 out of 13). That will never happen again.
* monitors what you're doing all the time
* criticizes you for little things
* constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
* prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school
* gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
* controls how you spend your money
* controls your use of needed medicines
* humiliates you in front of others
* destroys your property or things that you care about
* threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets, or does hurt you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
* uses or threatens to use a weapon against you
* forces you to have sex against your will
* blames you for his or her violent outbursts


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