If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the signs listed below, we strongly encourage you to call SAFE of Columbia County. SAFE is a domestic and sexual violence advocacy center that works throughout Columbia County, in each of the communities, to provide free advocacy services to women, men and teens. We will help you create the best plan of safety for yourself or your loved ones. No one need suffer alone.

1. Physical violence of any kind is a problem

• Physical violence includes hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, etc. Physical violence should never be ignored and is a sign that the relationship is dangerous.

• Strangling or “choking” someone is a highly lethal act. If your partner strangles you or grabs you by the neck in any way, then your relationship is 750 times more likely to become lethal.

• Implicit or explicit threats with weapons are also highly dangerous.

• You “walk on eggshells” for fear of provoking your partner

2. You feel treated like an object, not a person

• When someone treats you like an object, then they can justify any action toward you.

• You can be raped by a person you know. You can even be raped by a person that you love.

• Your partner makes you do things you don’t want to do—forced sex of any kind including unwanted BDSM, or making you have sex with other people while he/ she watches, forced porn and other unwanted sexually exploitive acts are abusive.

• Your partner belittles or negates your feelings.

• Humiliation takes its toll on you until you feel like less of a person. It is often painful and embarrassing to ask for help.

3. Your partner threatens you

• Partner destroys your possessions to punish you.

• Partner threatens your family, friends or co-workers.

• Your partner threatens to hurt your pets.

• Your partner threatens to take your children or hurt you or your children or report you to DHS if you don’t comply with their demands.

• Your partner threatens to suicide if you leave.

• Threatens to kill you or commit murder-suicide.

4. Your partner displays unpredictable, erratic behavior

• Your partner blames you for their behavior. If you find out that your partner is cheating, then your partner will accuse you of cheating instead of admitting it.

• Anything you try to discuss, or are worried about, will be turned around and thrown back in your face by your partner.

• Your partner denies all abusive behavior and accuses you of overreacting or being crazy.

• Your partner criticizes all that you do.

• Your partner calls you derogatory names. Name-calling, of any kind, is abuse.

• Gaslights you—basically this means manipulating you into doubting your memory, perception and sanity. (Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse and the term comes from the title of a 1944 film “Gaslight” which stars Ingrid Bergman.

• You feel off balance and crazy around your partner.

5. Your partner controls your every move

• Jealous and possessive; they limit access to family, friends, money, transportation, email and phone.

• Checks up on you regularly and wants to know where you are at all times.

• Makes you miss work, sabotages your career, even if just by making your day miserable through upsetting words, texts and actions.

• Steals from you.

• Controls you through looks, sideways glances and other behaviors without even using words.

• Keeps you distracted from focusing on important or timely matters. May intentionally make you miss deadlines.

6. You have feelings of rage and shame that come out in unhealthy ways

• You feel isolated within yourself; embarrassed and misunderstood with nowhere to turn.

• Loss of self-worth, even if you used to feel confident.

• Anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes leading to depression.

• Suicidal thoughts.

• Feelings of extreme anger; sometimes misdirected and out of the blue.

• Feeling overwhelmed, not good enough, like something is wrong with you, and sometimes even like a prisoner of your own mind.

• Feelings of guilt.

• You realize that your partner can stop their bad behavior when it benefits them.

• You notice that their physical abuse usually never leaves marks in areas that others can see.

• You notice that the mental and emotional abuse leaves scars far deeper than any physical abuse.

• You may feel extreme rage about the entirety of the situation. It is entirely possible to feel rage and fear and shame and pain at the same time. In fact, it might even be likely.

If you are experiencing any of the above signs of abuse, please call 503-397-6161. We have advocates available to speak to you 24 hours a day. We offer shelter and emergency housing options for those in crisis. Visit our website at https://safeofcolumbiacounty. org.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

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