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Are You Abusing Your Significant Other?

Guys, look in the mirror.

Domestic violence plagues heterosexual and same-sex couples. Women can be perpetrators, as well as victims. More often, however, abuse comes at the hands of men against women.

It doesn't have to be physical. Here are questions to ask yourself to understand if you're victimizing your partner.

1. Does your relationship feel collaborative?

If you make all the decisions—how much money to spend, what's for dinner, where your family goes for vacation—that's at least a warning sign that you're not taking your partner's concerns or interests into account.

2. What happens when your partner expresses an opinion different than yours?

Let's say you want Chinese food for dinner, and your partner wants Italian. If you feel like you can't possibly compromise or you have to "win," that's dangerous. It means you put yourself above others—at least those inside your own home.

3. Is there an ongoing pattern of bad behavior in your relationship?

Anyone can have a bad day. Couples can have nasty fights but still have healthy relationships, the same way a nonalcoholic can occasionally get drunk. But if you frequently berate, scold or silence your partner when she disagrees with you, you have a problem.

4. Is your partner afraid of you?

If your partner or your children walk on eggshells to avoid triggering a blowup, they're afraid of you.

5. Do the people closest to you think there's a problem?

If your answer is, "The only person who complains about my behavior is my wife," that's not a clue she's crazy. It's not uncommon for batterers to be perfect gentlemen with everyone but their wives.

6. Are you quick to see your partner as being against you?

If your wife is afraid of you but you feel like the victim, your mind is playing tricks on you. You may have never hit your wife. That doesn't mean you're not abusing her. 

Need help? Portland Women's Crisis Line: 235-5333. Allies in Change: 297-7979.

Read "Hello, My Name Is Brian, and I Abuse My Wife."