As we discussed in the last blog entry, eating disorders, abuse, and drinking are often three sides of a dangerous triangle. Candy’s story described the entanglement of these three issues. Often an overly critical comment about a woman’s body propels her into a deeper layer of self-contempt. Sometimes such comments stir the soul to the point that the woman vows to do whatever it takes to – drum roll, please – get skinny.
Sadly, “getting skinny” is considered a magical cure in our culture. “If only I was skinny, my life would be perfect,” is a common misconception. (See my blog entries on Magical Thinking.) And so begins the woman’s road to supposed happiness, which turns out to be hollow and filled with pain.
She uses whatever is available to help her achieve a desired numbness so she doesn’t have to feel the pain. Alcohol, food, drugs, and a controlling/abusive male usually play starring roles in the drama.
Often a man who criticize women’s bodies are abusive. He is controlling, which is almost always a precursor to abuse. Most women are unaware of the warning signs of dangerous relationships, so here is a list of red flags to look for:
• An abusive past, including a parent
that was physically abusive. Never fool
yourself into thinking he escaped the
scars of abuse, or that you can change
• Harm of animals: Often abusers
harmed animals before abusing
• A whirlwind romance, leading to
cohabitation or marriage in a
relatively short period
• Jealousy or possessiveness: the
abuser is jealous of time you
spend away from him
• Blame: he says everything, or
most everything, is your fault, and
sometimes even suggests that
you are crazy
• Cutting you down: He often
makes derogatory remarks about
you, sometimes in jest
• Isolation: He tries to isolate you
from others, usually so gradually
that you don’t notice it at first.
This may include denying your
access to transportation, moving,
or getting upset when you talk to
friends and family
• Control: He gradually takes control
of different facets of your life,
including how money is spent,
how time is spent, etc.
• Pushing, shoving, slapping, or
restraining are usually the precursors
to other forms of abuse.
It’s easy to fake you’re Mr. or Ms.
Wonderful for a few weeks or months, or
even a year. But most people can’t keep up the lie
for two years. This is why it is important
to get to know the guy (or gal) well. When things
seem too good to be true, they probably are.
He always uses the same three-step pattern:
Tension (where something gets on his nerves),
Blowup (where he gets angry and lashes out verbally and/or physically
Apology “I’m sorry. I will never do that again.”
(Of course that is a lie because it will continue to get worse if you don’t seek help.)
If you are involved in a controlling and/or abusive relationship, call 911 if you feel you are in immediate danger. Contact a local counselor in your area to get professional help.
US National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233