You Have Voice, Vote, and
Barrington H. Brennen,
February 2000, August 28, 2017
years ago, I received a question from a reader of this
column which I am certain it is still relevant today. Here
is the question: “Dear Sir: I am in a relationship which I
am thinking of ending very soon, because my fiancée is
trying to control what I say, where I go, and what I do. It
seems as if he is trying to take away my own identity.
Should I end the relationship? Signed: In love, but ending
Here’s my response. “Dear
Friend, you are certainly right. If you feel your
relationship with your fiancée is one that stifles growth
and places a tight noose around your neck then you must end
it, and end it quickly. I am saying this in the context that
when two become one, there is always some give and take.
There will always be a need for adjustments of habits,
attitudes, and perhaps acceptance of things you might not
like at first. However, I hear you talking about an unusual
use of power and control which almost always leads to family
It is imperative to note that by
design both males and females in a relationship have equal
voice, vote, authority, access, and opportunity. These are
simple human rights. Rights are not given to someone, they
are inherent in just being someone. Far too many men in
The Bahamas still believe that they have more power rights
and authority than women. Thus, domestic violence continues
in families today. Far too many spouses are being abuse.
Far too many children are being physically, sexually, and
emotionally abused. What are your right? Are you being
abused or are you abusive. Read carefully the points below.
In a pre-marriage relationship,
one has a right:
To express his or her opinions
and have them respected.
To have his or her needs be as
important as the partner’s needs.
To grow as an individual in his
or her own way.
To change one’s mind.
To not take responsibility for
one’s partner’s behavior.
To not be physically,
emotionally, or sexually abused.
To break up and fall out of
love with someone and not be threatened.
One of my favorite speakers and
writers state that "Love gives the freedom to say yes and
the freedom to say no." True love says, "I love you the way
you are." Abusive love says "I love you the way I want you
to be." The fiancée mentioned in the question above seems
to be displaying the formula for potential abuse. It is
important the people are taught to recognize abusive
behavior and get help or get out of the relationships.
ARE YOU BEING ABUSED?
Here are a few questions that one
may know if a friend or fiancée is abusive:
Are you frightened by your
Are you afraid to disagree?
Are you constantly apologizing
for your partner’s behavior, especially when he/she have
treated you badly?
Do you have to justify
everything you do, every place you go, or every person you
see just to avoid your partner’s anger?
Does your partner put you down,
then tells you that he loves you?
Have you ever been hit, kicked,
shoved, or had things thrown at you?
Do you not see friends or
family because of your partner’s jealousy?
Have you been forced into
having sex when you didn’t want to?
Are you afraid to break up
because your partner has threatened to hurt you or himself?
If your answer is yes to any of
these, you are most likely in an abusive or potentially
abusive relationship. Therefore, it is wise that you think
twice about "living happily together."
ARE YOU BEING ABUSIVE?
It is important for your partner
to know if he or she is being abusive. Here are a few
questions to consider:
Do you constantly check up on
your partner and accuse her of being with other people?
Are you extremely jealous or
Do you have an explosive
Have you hit, kicked, shoved,
or thrown things at your partner?
Do you constantly criticize or
insult your partner?
Do you become violent when you
drink or use drugs?
Have you threatened your
partner or broken things in her presence?
Have you forced your partner to
have sex with you or intimidated her so she is afraid to say
Have you threatened to hurt
Have you threatened to hurt
yourself if she breaks up with you or leave?
In the Bahamas, family violence is
a major problem. Too many people are turning their heads to
the subtle signs of passive violence that usually manifest
early in a romantic relationship. Usually, domestic violence
shows its ugly head first in an unsuspecting manner to the
love-starved individuals. It is imperative that young people
learn the early signs of abuse and to have the courage to
end a relationship that is potentially abusive. I hope these
Here's an important secret. Do
not engage in any kind to intimate behavior with someone you
just met. Take time. It does not matter if that person is
nice, makes you feel good, and meets some of your emotional
needs. Sometime these persons are controlling and
manipulative. When you have sex with someone you really do
not know and have no commitment with, you increase the
chances of being abused. Sex too early in a relationship
will close the emotional trap door and you feel locked in
and confused. Sex destroys objectivity in a relationship.
Once objectivity is skewed you renationalize your feelings,
excuse or overlook negative behavior, and lock yourself into
a troubled relationship. Remember, sex is always sweet even
when the hearts are bitter. Take control of your life.
Get out of an abusive relationship.
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a
marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical
psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or
visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980