DEAR ABBY: My son, "Marshall," is in an abusive marriage. This week, while his military unit was training in another state, his wife had his cell phone turned off. Then she took a cash advance (over the credit limit) against the card Marshall uses while away from home, and canceled his ATM card so he would not have access to money. She did all this because she was angry with him.
Marshall had to leave his training early and fly home to straighten out the mess. Abby, she has locked him out of the house and made up allegations of physical abuse and reported them to his command. I have never met anyone so vindictive. This has happened repeatedly during their nine-year marriage.
They have two young sons. Marshall is miserable, yet he is hesitant to free himself from her control. He keeps saying she'll just do something worse. Even with her history, he doesn't see it as abuse.
Have you a list of abusive characteristics in women you could print? Maybe if Marshall sees it, he'll recognize it for what it is. I'm afraid he'll eventually lose his job -- or his life. -- WORRIED SICK IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR WORRIED SICK: It's been a while since I printed the warning signs of an abuser. Although they were originally intended to describe a male abuser, many of them apply to both sexes:
1. PUSHES FOR QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this by anyone." Pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
2. JEALOUS: 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 are 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 mate and meet his or her every need.
5. ISOLATION: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who support you of "causing trouble." May deprive you of a phone or car, or try to prevent you from holding a job.
6. BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS OR MISTAKES: It's always someone else's fault if something goes wrong.
7. MAKES OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OR HER FEELINGS: 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 OR CHILDREN: Kills or punishes animals brutally. May expect children to do things far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or teases 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 or says blatantly cruel things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names. This may involve sleep deprivation, waking you with relentless verbal abuse.
12. RIGID GENDER ROLES: Expects you to serve, obey, remain at home.
13. SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
14. PAST BATTERING: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person "made" him (or her) do it.
15. THREATS OF VIOLENCE: Says things like, "I'll break your neck" or "I'll kill you, " then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way" or "I didn't really mean it."