HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF OUT OF A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP

It’s not always easy to tell which strangers are dangerous, and which are not. Here are some guidelines for protecting yourself and telling the difference.

1. Don’t be alone with a new person too quickly, and don’t go to the other person’s home, or allow him or her in yours, especially if you have children. Get to know someone first away from your home. Rather, meet for coffee or lunch in a public place, or in a group.

2. Don’t drink on a new date, more than a minimal amount (no more than one or two drinks). Do not ride in the other person’s car, or drive him or her in yours. Be alert, so you can evaluate this new person.

3. Resist pressure. A potentially violent person will be resistant to your self-protectiveness, and may ridicule you or pressure you to trust them. The more this happens, the more careful you need to be. Pressure is a clear message that your new “friend” doesn’t value your feelings or your safety.

4. Don’t let your guard down too soon. Stalking, date rape, and domestic violence often show up later in a dating relationship. Potential abusers are often extremely charming in the beginning, and tell you what you want to hear. Be cautious if your date seems too good to be true.

5. Use your intuition. If you get any internal warnings or uncomfortable feelings, use them as an early warning system...pay very close attention and find out what is causing your negative reaction.

6. Make friends first. By keeping the relationship in the “friends”
category, you will know more about the person before taking risks. If you feel pressured to go farther, see this as a warning.

7. Begin in groups. By meeting people in safe venues and groups, you automatically begin as friends, and know more about your date before you begin dating. You also get the benefit of your other friends’ reactions to your potential date.

8. Learn to recognize over-controlling or out of control behavior. If your date wants to know everything you do, drinks too much, or flies into a rage, those are danger signs.

9. Pay close attention to your date’s financial integrity. Until you know he or she is trustworthy, only give money (or possessions, such as your car) as a gift you don’t expect back.

10. Don’t let attraction overrule your common sense. Sexual and romantic attraction is very powerful, and makes it difficult to think clearly. If you feel overwhelmingly attracted to someone, regard slow down and take your time. Your libido can’t tell an ax murderer from a saint; but yourrational mind can.

11. Look for integrity—make sure your date walks his or her talk. Anyone can talk big. Actually, some of the best people don’t present themselves well — don’t overlook someone who is not gorgeous, charming and glib, but has all the qualities you really need in a partner.

12. Be very consistent and careful about your sexual safety until the relationship progresses to the point that you become monogamous, and both have been tested for STD’s. The nicest people can be infected with a disease and not even know they have it. If you have had unprotected sex, have your doctor do a screening for STD’s. Don’t assume your partner is monogamous—especially if you haven’t discussed it in detail.

13. Know the signs of emotional blackmail:
  1) A demand. Your date won’t take “no” for an answer, and requests are
really demands.
  2) Resistance. When every discussion turns into an argument.
  3) Pressure. Your date pressures you to go along.
  4) Threats. Your date uses threatening or coercing tactics: threatening to end the relationship, tears, rage, badgering.
  5) Compliance. If you give in, you’re setting a dangerous precedent. Your date now knows you can be pressured into giving in to him or her, and this will increase the intensity of what your date is willing to do to pressure you.
  6) Repetition. An obsessive person will go through these previous five steps over and over, wearing you down each time. The easiest thing is to be sure when you say "no", it means no.

Get Out—Quick!
If you find you have real reason to doubt this person, and there are real problems, such as lying, severe money problems, a history of alcohol abuse, violence, many past relationship problems, a criminal record, reports of illegal activities, or drug use, do not make excuses, and do not accept promises of change. Change is difficult, and will take a lot of time. Mere promises, no matter how well intended, are not sufficient. Get out of this relationship before you are any more attached than you are now. If your partner decides to get help, let him or her do it because he or she knows they need it, not to get you back. That’s not a strong enough motive to keep him or her committed to change.

Don’t Try to Reform Your Partner
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can help. Problems this severe require more than you can provide, and your “help” may only postpone the real treatment this person needs. Forget any idea of a second chance. Giving second chances to people who have severe problems merely keeps you from going on with your life, and sends you around the whole disappointing cycle again.

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