Whether casual or exclusive, new relationships can be fun and exciting, they’re full of hope, promise, and endless possibilities. On the other hand, new relationships require taking a leap of faith because no one really knows how things will turn out. Predicting the future would be helpful to prevent heartbreak, or worse, a dangerous and toxic environment. Although predicting the future isn’t possible, Domestic Abuse Counselor Rob Andrew shared the “No Test” to determine the likelihood that your new significant other could become abusive.
People with abusive, narcissistic, or even psychopathic tendencies have an innate ability to hide their darker parts. They know how to be charming, persuasive, and in a way that might likely go under the radar. Therefore, relationships don’t always start out with apparent “red flags” or domestic abuse. Unfortunately, when the victim realizes they’re in a toxic environment, they’ve fallen too deeply into the trap of domestic violence. Resulting in possible mental or physical harm.
Domestic Abuse Statistics
Nearly 1 million Americans reported they were victims of domestic abuse in 2021. A significant increase from the year before. Even more alarming is the 5 million men and 11 million women who were reportedly in a domestic abuse relationship or harassed by a stalker before they turned 18 years old. Of those women, nearly 1 in 4 had experiences that left them feeling unsafe or afraid for their lives. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 men has reported similar experiences. Everyone has varying experiences because no two people are exactly the same. However, domestic abuse is essentially defined as “physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse caused by a loved one or intimate partner.”
Fortunately, countless resources are available for domestic abuse victims, including hotlines, shelters, and the 1993 Violence Against Women Act. Officially signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, its purpose was to dedicate funding to education and resources. Hoping to eliminate domestic and sexual abuse. Hate crimes against women, children, and minority communities such as same-sex couples. As well as those victimized by sex trafficking.
Domestic abuse is so common and still not talked about. With so many people encountering some form of abuse, it’s a wonder people didn’t address the issue sooner. In contrast, Rob Andrew has been a domestic violence counselor for more than 20 years. In that time, he’s spent hours sympathetically listening to women’s horror stories, while offering guidance and support. From his experience, Dr. Andrew has come up with a technique, proven effective in weeding out toxic or abusive behaviors.
Technique for Recognizing Domestic Abuse
“A colleague of mine, many years ago, asked me why it always took her so long to see a man’s true colors,” he explained. Dr. Andrew disclosed that he came up with the simple “No Test” after he and his colleague discussed her story. His colleague had canceled a date because she wasn’t feeling well. Her date’s response was angry and unpleasant. After some time, Dr. Andrew realized that she’d never said no before. It was then that he realized, simply saying no could be a helpful tool when trying to decipher if you could be a victim of domestic violence.
“The No Test is basically to watch out for the way your partner responds the first time you change your mind or say no. While expressing disappointment is OK, it’s not the same as annoyed. Annoyed is ‘how dare you’, a sign of ownership or entitlement.” Dr. Andrew explained.
Becoming a victim of domestic abuse rewires the brain. It causes low self-worth, depression, and the idea that the victim is always to blame. “A lot of the women who will present to services will see themselves as part of the problem. They’ll ask themselves why they’re always attracted to abusive men, blame themselves for not being assertive enough, blame themselves for pushing their partner’s buttons, causing their anger.” He disclosed. “With the No Test, we’re not trying to give women knowledge that they didn’t already know, but when they see it in black and white in front of them like that, they realize they of course have the right to say no, that they aren’t to blame.”
Read: 10 Examples of ‘Anti-Homeless’ Hostile Architecture That You Probably Never Noticed Before
Giving Women a Voice
Dr. Andrew has a method for helping women break free from their toxic situations and begin the road to healing. He asks his clients questions about their coping skills, what gave them hope, and how they survived the experiences. “When they start realizing the ways in which they’ve resisted, how they’ve held onto hope and dignity, suddenly their eyes light up,” he said. “I call it repositioning. Often the women will look at their lives from the mountaintop of judgment, blaming themselves. The mountaintop of recognition is when they can start to recognize they did stand up for themselves, they do have a voice.“
Controversy will always arise from a controversial discussion. While appearing on ABC Radio, he addressed some backlash regarding the exclusion of men as domestic violence abuse victims. “Look, that’s very possible and we would never deny the possibility of men being in controlling situations of course. The statistics point out men being abusive to women is far more serious,” he said. “So, what we’re trying to do with the men is to expose the attitudes that they have, look at where those attitudes take them and ask them if that’s the sort of man they want to be in a relationship.” He explained. “Most often they’ll say it’s not, they’re not proud of themselves.”
Fortunately, Dr. Andrew expects that there will be controversy and confusion around his message. To clarify he explains, “I hear a lot of people saying how it’s so hard for men now, it’s all so confusing.” He elaborated, “It’s very easy to be a man. Just be polite and respectful to people, it’s not that difficult really. But in saying that, we are to some extent dealing with 2,000 years of history of women being a second-class citizen.”
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