Some note-able statistics: about 95% of all domestic violence victims are female. The majority of male victims are assaulted by other men. One third of American women and one quarter of women worldwide will experience domestic/dating violence in their lifetime. Having noted the above statistics, I believe it is critical to say that I have worked with several heterosexual male clients, who have been victims of domestic abuse at the hands, and/or words of their female partners. I have heard stories of men whose wives/ex-wives threaten to ruin their careers by crying domestic abuse/child abuse if their husbands/ex-husbands don’t do what they want. It has also been my experience that many men in American culture are taught to not report abuse for fear of public humiliation (i.e., "men can't be victims"). This is a tragedy. Both men and women can be victims of abuse that lasts far past a divorce or break up.

Examples of some mind games include the following:

1. He tells how committed he is to you, then consistently doesn't come home at night, only to get mad at you for questioning his choices.

2. He's overly jealous, blaming, and guilt-tripping of you if you take time for yourself or your friends.

3. She punishes you by withholding affection if you don't respond the way that she wants to her requests.

4. She gets pregnant to keep you with her.

5. He threatens to kill himself if you leave him.

Men and women will also sometimes use children as pawns to manipulate, punish, coerce, or abuse their partners. An example of this includes threatening to take the kids away or if couples are divorced, not allowing one partner to see the children if they don’t do what the other partner wants. Some exes will also punish the other parent if that person is in a new relationship. This typically stems from their own sense of abandonment, and self loathing.

Other signs of an unhealthy relationship include: Name calling, physical violence, intimidation, sexual exploitation, manipulation (with words, sex, money), threats, power and control, disrespect, dishonesty, infidelity, abuse of substances or vices (i.e., porn) that negatively impact the relationship.

If you find yourself dating someone who presents with subtle forms of jealousy, power and control issues, or insecurities that raise an eyebrow or give you anxiety butterflies in your stomach, beware!!

As I tell my clients: “run for the hills!”

In my opinion, the reason that people stay with someone that presents with concerning symptoms of abusive tendencies is because they believe that person will change, or that they can change them. The real reason for staying, I believe is that the potential victim (future victim) is working through their own his/her-stories of abuse (i.e., with parents, past partners).

If, in the unfortunate event that you are married or in a long-term committed relationship with someone who is abusive, there are ways to escape. Some useful tips to stay safe include:

1. Contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799- SAFE (7233). 2. Safety Planning by doing the following:

--Knowing of four places you could go if you leave your home. --People who might help you if you left. --Think about people who will keep a bag for you. --Think about people who might lend you money. -- Make plans for your pets. --Keeping change for phone calls or get a cell phone. --Opening a separate bank account, credit card in your name. --Determining how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house, i.e., taking out the trash, walking the pet, going to the store. --Determining how to take your children safely. There are times when taking your children may put all of you in danger. --Putting together a bag of things you use daily. Hide it in a safe place.  

Although this article paints a pretty dismal picture of relationships, there are plenty of healthy relationships out there. There are plenty of healthy people as well. The keys to having and keeping a healthy relationship include: Honesty, Respect, Fidelity/Faithfulness, Open Communication, 8-10 non-sexual touches per day to support intimacy, Healthy sexual relationship where both parties feel respected in the bedroom, Trust, Equality and Equanimity, Healthy boundaries, Friendship, Both partners are committed to personal growth, Accountability, Freedom from addictions.

Relationships do not have to come with emotional, spiritual, physical, or sexual price tags, or rather, body bag tags. Be mindful when choosing your partner. You deserve Queen-dome/King-dome.