Signs of a potentially violent partner

Yet another Barbadian woman has been affected by a violent attack from her former intimate partner. Yet again we are engrossed in the resultant national discussion about our women and men and what goes wrong to cause violence in a relationship.

There are still large gaps in the knowledge of Barbadians about intimate partner violence and the reality of what causes intimate partner violence. In order to be able to eradicate the far reaching social problem of intimate partner violence, we must increase the awareness levels across the island. Women have to be one of the major target audiences for education. All women – so that when our friends are telling us about their new love interests, we can offer them valuable and hopefully good precautionary advice.

Intimate partner violence cannot be simply legislated away. This is why although I was somewhat heartened by the changes made to the Domestic Violence Act, I knew it was only a matter of time until we got to the next incidence.  Furthermore, the changes in legislation were not supported by real restructuring of the relevant social services in Barbados to be able to create the state support net needed to rescue victims of intimate partner violence.

There was a Family Unit established within the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF). However, if public comment is used as a gauge, police officers still seem to carry the traditional approach to calls about intimate partner violence. Apart from the seeming usual at the level of the RBPF, there is still no housing plan for victims of intimate partner violence and no sustained welfare to work options.

It is thus one thing to say that women should just leave an abusive relationship but the logistics involved in this often make it quite a difficult task. With the prolonged state of Barbados economic woes, there is no obvious expectation for improvement that Barbadian women can expect in the short term. This is why education becomes such a fundamental feature in the fight against intimate partner violence. The more women know, they more informed their decision can be.

There is nothing that a woman does to make an intimate partner abuse or attack her. This is the crux of understanding about intimate partner violence. Out of the research over decades, there are signs and causal relationships which have been established to explain why intimate partner abuse occurs but the woman is never a reason or factor. Researchers are now paying closer attention to mental health and its co-occurrence with abusive behaviour.

Perpetrators may be battling depression or another type of mental illness which may make them act out seeking control. In all cases, intimate partner violence has to do with how a perpetrator constructs love. In about 0.1% of the population, adults do not develop healthy patterns of intimate association. In a regular relationship, the relation progresses from intense periods of being infatuated with the new love and wanting to spend time with the interest to a more sustainable pattern of interaction.  With men prone to obsessive and possessive patterns of love, the inverse to this is true.  The older the relationship gets, the more intense the desire to be with a love interest intensifies instead of wanes.

Where people have unhealthy patterns of love, there are behavioural flags which manifest before there is an escalation to abuse or violence. Alcoholism or other forms of addictive behaviour such as extreme infatuation with religion can be a warning sign. These may be the opiates of a person battling with control issues or other challenges.

Pay attention to men who always seem to show up where you are or ask you excessively about your whereabouts.  Healthy adults have multi-faceted lives.  We work, we visit family and spend time with friends. Be wary of a man who tries to make you the centre of his world or wants you to be the centre of his. This can be a sign of unhealthy love patterns. It is not healthy to entertain men who find fault with your friends and family, ask you to call in sick from work to be with him or otherwise try to isolate you from your normal activity.

Many men who have obsessive or possessive constructions of love seek to control women with their money. Do not allow yourself to become dependent on a man financially. This is the easiest way for him to create a situation where you cannot easily leave him if he becomes abusive.  Be wary of men who want to make your life decisions on your behalf. If you return to school, if you get pregnant or terminate a pregnancy should be decisions you have a fifty percent stake in making.

Extreme jealousy is another hint that your relationship may not be healthy. If a man is jealous of your male relatives, makes you feel like you have to choose between him and your children or asks you to check in or call him excessively, this is not acceptable behaviour. Partners should also not seek to go through the personal effects of each other. A person’s phone, bag, pockets and drawers are personal items and boundaries should be set in relation to them.

Trust has to be a major part of any healthy relationship. If there is not trust in a relationship, there is no point in keeping the relationship. Moreover, due to the way that obsessive and possessive partners construct love, it is impossible to make them trust you. It is not your responsibility to try to make such a person trust you.  It is like chasing the wind. Trust is a 50/50 endeavour and healthy adults understand that both people have a part to play in its construction. A man demanding that you satisfy him by staying home, carrying a phone he gives to you or answer his every call is not to be encouraged.

A man may do one of these things from time to time but the more of these flags you see in one person the more you need to pay attention. Also be wary of men who seem unsure of themselves or exhibit signs of low self-esteem. This can lead to him desiring to control people or things around him to compensate for his self loathe.  If a man threatens to harm himself or you because you do not spend time with him or if you leave him, this is a major warning flag. Never take verbal threats of this nature lightly.

Do not let a man persuade you that you can change him or make him better. If a man that you are dating is exhibiting any of the above signs and you feel uncomfortable in any way, trust your instincts.  Remember that obsessive and possessive lovers get worse over time. It is always easier to avoid getting involved with men displaying warning signs than to try to get out of a full blown abusive relationship.

I have written this article mainly to give women advice about warning flags. This is because women are statistically more affected by intimate partner violence than men. However, the behaviours outlined in this article are not healthy whether the person performing them is man or woman.

Source: (Marsha Hinds Layne is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women (NOW). Email:

38 Responses to Signs of a potentially violent partner

  1. Michael Crichlow
    Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Domestic abuse is abhorrent but there are many factors. Don’t we think that pendulum of blame fall too far?after all ,victim are not always innocent participants but sometimes provocateurs . The assailants are not always persons of good temperament either.. let’s not forget, when men are the victims they are scoff at by law enforcement officers , and the courts , because of our alpha male personas

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Intimate partner violence does not hinge on wrongdoing….. Ithas to do with how the perps constructs love…. that and only that.

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Marsha Hinds show me where human behaviour can be legislated, we are fallible ,and subsequently and regardless of love construction, stray down that road of abuse

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow September 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

      I have to agree with that

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 11:02 am

      I have accepted it cannot be…. stated that in the article.

      This is why education is so important.. we need to stop women from getting involved in unhealthy relationships in the first place – a more preventative aporoach.. while we still deal with the patriarchy and how love is constructed.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow September 8, 2017 at 11:04 am

      Although a man can walk away from the situation ok he may have kids to think about but walk away and go for you contact rights . Many women haven’t got the walk away right ! They have to stay their kids need her etc .

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Marsha Hinds perception is not always reality ..relationship are a work in progress

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

      Kay… staying for the kids is never ever a good idea…

      There is no working on relationship with a person who has obsessive or possessive constructions of love, Michael…… one remedy…. R. U. N.

    • Kay Critchlow
      Kay Critchlow September 8, 2017 at 11:20 am

      I hate men putting a hand to a Women it makes me weep but there are woman that push push and push and instigate . The law has to listen to both sides but men should walk they know they are stronger .

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Marsha Hinds ..fair!! I am under exspose to either or flight or fight ,i have chosen the latter

    • John Boost
      John Boost September 8, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Kay what about women who beat men

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      John Boost ha ha someone just noted “only an immature mind resort to violence to solve problems” in a perfect world with human imperfections?or visa versa ..hogwash!

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      staying with an obsessive/possessive lover predisposes a woman to violent ends.

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      There is nothing women do to ‘push’ perps to violence.. a basic lesson we must learn.

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Marsha Hinds i agree with you on the subject upon discovery. Of obsessive and possessive..but the nicest person can be provoked thats a fact!

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      There is nothing that a woman can do to provoke intimate partner violence..

      Please do confuse IP violence with a fight…. A couple may fight after some disturbance in a relationship that causes one or both to feel deceived….

      After the fight the two may decide to part ways without further harm to either party..

      IP is not simply a fight….. it is a systematic and cyclic pattern of manipulation and control. If a woman cooks rice and a man wants potato something as simple as that may be used to justify a savage beating, rape or other actions….

      The woman can do nothing to avoid or control the escalation to violence…. It has to do with the mind of the perp.

      We must know and understand IP to stop it.

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      It is up to each and every woman to also create her as close to perfect world as she can by avoiding obsessive and possessive love…..

    • Zakir Degiya
      Zakir Degiya September 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      So if a female attacks a male he doesn’t have the right to defend himself?

    • Michael Crichlow
      Michael Crichlow September 8, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Zakir Degiya …my rule don’t hit me or damage my personal property period

  2. Marsha Hinds
    Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

    This has no place in the discussion.

    Men who construct love in possessive or obsessive ways choose women they realize enable their behaviours…. some are the sweetest women alive….

  3. Joy Wharton
    Joy Wharton September 8, 2017 at 10:52 am

    But then why the violence in the either side? Walk away and seek legal recourse. An immature mind ( man or woman) always resort to violence.

  4. Marsha Hinds
    Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Just stunning how much educating we still have to do…

  5. Marsha Hinds
    Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Most women who meet IP harm meet it at the point where they are trying to leave, research shows.

    The issue is nothing the woman does…. It has to do with the unhealthy construction of love which the perpetrator has.

  6. John Boost
    John Boost September 8, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Oh ok

  7. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce September 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

    John Boost, Needless to say, that does NOT give a man the right to raise his hand to hit or cause her harm.

  8. Jason Patel
    Jason Patel September 8, 2017 at 11:31 am

    NOBODY including women should not beat anybody

  9. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce September 8, 2017 at 11:32 am

    No matter how bad the situation is, a man has NO right to raise his hand to hit or cause harm to a woman.
    Men got to realise that a woman is NOT their possession. There’s plenty plastic dolls or mannequins that one can buy in-store or online and take out one’s frustration and anger on. Be that guy, Walk Away and Keep thy hands to one-selves. And the same goes for women that are violent to men.

    • John Strutton
      John Strutton September 8, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Only insecure, weak men raise their hands to women. Ironically it’s the only way they have to feel like a “real man” – that’s how weak and stupid they are.

    • Sharon Woolley
      Sharon Woolley September 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Men that hit out are both a coward and a bully

  10. Ella Mottley
    Ella Mottley September 8, 2017 at 11:35 am

    You’re absolutely right. I know some men get abused by their women. It’s a tabboo subject as a man feels ashamed and doesn’t want to come forward. But this subject is about the lack of support for women in Barbados. In the UK we have refuges for women suffering from domestic abuse. They have a place they can run to and be safe. Are there such things in Barbados?

  11. Melissa Aspirations Christophis
    Melissa Aspirations Christophis September 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Equal rights for all its not right for man to hit woman or woman to hit a man !!

  12. John Boost
    John Boost September 8, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    So a woman can hit me

  13. John Strutton
    John Strutton September 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm
  14. Marsha Hinds
    Marsha Hinds September 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    We lack social support, Ella

  15. fedup September 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Had a very possessive and insecure boyfriend who TRIED to hit me. I warned him what would happen to him if he so much as ever let it cross his mind. However, after he said ” I would like to put my body inside your body so we could become one” I really he was off the wall and so I secretly planned to leave the country (I had a good job offer). No love lost when I returned and heard he had died.

  16. Joy Wharton
    Joy Wharton September 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    John Boost Absolutely not ! But threats of violence should be taken seriously, and not be tolerated on either side. As long as those thoughts are there, they can be acted upon ! Just walk from unhealthy behavior period !

  17. Alex Alleyne September 8, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    First error is this word “LOVE”. Until we get over and abandon this man made word from our mind then we will see some light and will solve this problem.
    2 People swear that they are in “LOVE” today , something goes wrong tomorrow and “it’s oh how I hate that dog (male or female). Then it’s off to the Court House and the Lawyers start looking at how to clean out / skin/ take him/her to the cleaners, leaving one “dirt Poor”. Children or no children , they are most of the time thrown in the mix just to “Sweeten the Pot”.

  18. Alex Alleyne September 8, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I remember one MAN saying he could never stop drinking and when he get drunk he go home and beat his wife. One night he went home so drunk and start a fight , he fell on the bed , his wife then roll him in the sheet and wore the broom stick out on him.
    In his own words , “fellers I ain’t touch a drop of rum since”.


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