An estimated 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year in the United States, according to the American Bar Association's Commission on Domestic Violence. A primary signal of domestic violence is excessive anger towards a spouse or partner. If your spouse or partner verbally or physically abuses you during repeated anger outbreaks, you need to think about leaving the relationship.
Domestic Violence History
Massachusetts passed a law in 1641 forbidding husbands from hitting their wives unless they were defending themselves. Professor Dorothy Mays' 2004 book, "Women in early America," found that while the majority of colonial American spousal abusers were married men, an analysis of New England divorce cases revealed that 18 percent of the men seeking divorces cited their wives' violence. Sporadic efforts to combat domestic violence continued throughout the Victorian era, but did not take root until domestic violence became a major issue of the 1970s women's movement.
My Sister's House, a domestic violence shelter in South Carolina, summarizes what researchers have learned about abusers in an essay, "Profile of an Abuser." Abusers usually have violent tempers, and experience most of their emotions in the form of anger. Abusers display unusual jealousy and possessiveness, hypersensitivity to real or imagined setbacks and criticisms, and aggression. Abusers frequently grew up in abusive families, sometimes have an alcohol or drug problem, and are often unemployed.
Abusive Relationship Signs
You may wonder how you can tell if your spouse or partner is truly an abuser or has a lesser problem, such as poor anger management. Helpguide.org provides a checklist in "Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships" that you can review to see if your relationship is abusive. Key indications that your spouse or partner is an abuser include feeling afraid of your loved one much of the time, experiencing your spouse or partner as constantly trying to humiliate you, and coping with angry acts of verbal and physical aggression, such as threats to kill you or commit suicide if you leave.
If your spouse or partner has repeatedly promised to stop the abusive behavior, you may be staying in the relationship because you hope that your loved one will get control of the angry outbursts. Unfortunately, as described in an article on a University of Missouri website, "Domestic Violence," these promises of change are intended by the abuser to keep you in the relationship, and the promises are usually followed by yet another incident of verbal or physical violence.
Leaving the Relationship
An abuser can become extremely angry and violent if you decide to leave the relationship. You will need to create a detailed "safety plan" to extricate yourself that will cover everything you need to remember, including collecting important documents such as your children's birth certificates. One example is the detailed "Separation Safety Plan" created by the Nashville Police Department, which includes advice on putting away a supply of money and a separate set of keys in case you have to leave quickly.