DEAR ABBY: Please reprint the list of signs of an abuser. I lost the list I had, but I think my husband is one. He calls me names like "stupid" and "slut." He tells me what clothes to wear, and if I refuse he threatens to cut them up. When we argue, he threatens to call 911 and have me locked up. He says everything that goes wrong is my fault.
We have been married 31 years. The stress is ruining my health. I have no money and no job. He stands in front of the door to keep me from leaving or going anywhere. Should I call a hotline or try to find a women's shelter? -- END OF MY ROPE
DEAR END: While you haven't been battered, your husband's treatment qualifies as emotional abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free number is (800) 799-7233. Do not try to leave without calling it first.
The signs of an abuser are:
(1) PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." An abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
(2) JEALOUSY: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone"; checks the mileage on your car.
(3) CONTROLLING: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
(4) UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Expects you to be the perfect woman and meet his every need.
(5) ISOLATION: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble"; the abuser may deprive you of a phone or car or try to prevent you from holding a job.
(6) BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS AND MISTAKES: It's always someone else's fault if anything goes wrong.
(7) MAKES EVERYONE ELSE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: The abuser says, "You make me angry" instead of, "I am angry" or says, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."
(8) HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad. Rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.
(9) CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AND TO CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry. Sixty-five percent of abusers who beat their partner will also abuse children.
(10) "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE DURING SEX: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex; finds the idea of rape exciting.
(11) VERBAL ABUSE: Constantly criticizes you, or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may also involve sleep deprivation, waking you up with relentless verbal abuse.
(12) RIGID GENDER ROLES: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
(13) SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in a matter of minutes.
(14) PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says they made him (or her) do it.
(15) THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, "I'll break your neck" or "I'll kill you," and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way" or "I didn't really mean it."
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)