Could he kill you?

by Rod Smith

Dangerous relationships are easier to endure than address, so it is not surprising that the murder of a wife, an ex-wife or lover usually takes everyone by surprise. Secrecy, cover-up, denial are the hallmarks of toxic binds.

I think women could use a set of criteria to evaluate whether they are involved with a man capable of committing a violent crime against them. Accurate or not, the list could help a woman escape a potentially abusive relationship, or at least eradicate the virus before it destroys her.

Men who are capable of killing a “loved” one often leave trails of early indicators, like rose petals around an open grave, before they commit a horrible crime.

Perhaps someone’s life will be saved because this list, incomplete as it is, will assist someone toward getting appropriate help:

1. He tells you how to dress and insists you obey his wishes in this regard. If you resist he becomes irrationally hurt or angry. You are beyond choosing what you wear because your dress is his domain. [Please realize that not all controlling men are potential killers.]

2. He checks up on you for “your own good.” He wants to know where you are, what you are doing and whom you are with. Time unaccounted becomes an accusation. You find yourself explaining or hiding everything, to avoid the laborious conflicts that inevitably ensue.

3. Any move toward independence on your part is rewritten as betrayal.

4. He tells you when you are happy, and rewrites what you feel if you are unhappy. He tries to keep you from your family, suggesting they are not good for you.

5. He tells you when you are hungry and what you like to eat. He says he knows you better than you know yourself. He gets upset if you insist you are not hungry when he says you are – so you relent and feign hunger!

6. He is jealous of your friendships, even those that predate him and those that are over.

7. Keeping peace is second nature to you. Ironically, the peace seldom lasts because he jumps on the smallest issues, magnifying them into major breaches of trust.

8. His highs are very high and his lows very low. It seems as if your response to him is inordinately powerful in changing or determining his mood.

10. He demands his own way and has an inordinate perception of his own importance. He shows off his “power” by threatening to “talk to the manager,” when he is not given the service he thinks he deserves. He becomes irrationally angry at the smallest of inconveniences. He accuses you of “taking sides” if you suggest he is being unreasonable.

11. He lives on the edge of “white hot” anger, becoming very angry with children, animals, and anyone or anything that doesn’t obey him. He hides this anger from people outside the “inner circle” and his mood quickly changes if an “outsider” appears so that his anger is kept secret.

12. He removes your car keys or your purse to restrict your movements and then denies doing so.

13. In the early days of the relationship you felt like you were on a fast ride on an unpredictable roller coaster. Everything was too much, too soon, but you did not know how to say it. Any comment about wanting to “slow down” on your part was ignored. You felt invisible, as if you were just along for his ride.

For such men, winning is everything — losing control is not an option, even for those whom they proclaim to love the most.

Four of MANY responses after this column first went to press. Excuse the language. I kept it “as is” for it illustrates an important point:


“You saved mine and my children’s lives this Saturday. Thanks.”

“May flowers be placed at your front door this morning for writing about domestic abuse.”

“I am referring to your article published in the Indianapolis Star, Saturday, April 17, 2004. I am the mother of a 33-year-old daughter who was stabbed repeatedly by her controlling, abusive husband. We had returned from Florida the week before your article appeared after attending the sentencing hearing for his life imprisonment without parole. Your article brought such impact to us. I wish that we’d had all those pieces 3 or 4 years ago. Reading all the points of your article has brought image and explanation to many things that we already knew or suspected, but were unable to do anything about. For over 2 years prior to her death, our family had no contact with her. I thank you so much for writing such an article. I am hoping that it will bring some closure to our sons who are still coping with the past and losing their sister.”


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