Melissa asks: "The guy I'm seeing keeps saying awful things about my parents and my brother, he sometimes tells me that he will hurt my brother if he doesn't stop trying to break us up. My brother doesn't like my boyfriend at all. Do you think he would really hurt him, or is he just talking?"
When it comes to Dating Violence and Domestic Violence the abuser has one key tool to maintain his or her power and control over the victim. That tool is isolation. An abuser seeks to control the victim’s life, decisions, friends, work, and school by telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. Making threats is a common way for an abuser to gain and maintain power and control over the victim. When the victim does something that the abuser sees as opposing his or her control, they act out in anger. The victim then experiences either or all of the following types of abuse: verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Over time the victim learns what to do and what not to do in order to not make their abuser angry. Isolation of the victim is the best way to break down the victim and make them feel shamed and alone. The abuser seeks to keep the victim from anyone that loves or can help support the victim. One of the common treats made by abusers is the possibility of harm to the victim’s friends or family. Of course, since the victim loves their friends and family they usually stop seeing them in order to protect them and themselves from their abuser.
If your partner is threatening your family or friends there are a few things to consider. Is the abuser telling you that he or she will hurt your friends or family or are the threats being made to the friends or family members directly? Are they or you in immediate danger? If so, please call the police. In Dating Violence/Domestic Violence situations, the threats to friends and family are usually made to the victim only, as the abuser doesn’t seek to control the friends or family, just the victim. If you are scared for your friends or family, tell them what is going on. Tell them about the threats and have them help you. Do not let the abuser isolate you from your family or friends. If you need help with how to make a safety plan for getting out of the relationship you can always call the National Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. They will be able to give you direct assistance and get more information about your situation and tailor a plan to your specific needs. By getting yourself more information and getting help you can be better educated and decide how to handle threats made by your partner. Get all the information that you can and make the best decision you can for yourself and your situation.