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You Have Voice, Vote, and Authority

Barrington H. Brennen, February 2000, August 28, 2017

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Many 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 it soon.”


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 violence.” 


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:


  1. To express his or her opinions and have them respected.

  2. To have his or her needs be as important as the partner’s needs.

  3. To grow as an individual in his or her own way.

  4. To change one’s mind.

  5. To not take responsibility for one’s partner’s behavior.

  6. To not be physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

  7. 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.



Here are a few questions that one may know if a friend or fiancée is abusive:


  1. Are you frightened by your partner’s temper?

  2. Are you afraid to disagree?

  3. Are you constantly apologizing for your partner’s behavior, especially when he/she have treated you badly?

  4. Do you have to justify everything you do, every place you go, or every person you see just to avoid your partner’s anger?

  5. Does your partner put you down, then tells you that he loves you?

  6. Have you ever been hit, kicked, shoved, or had things thrown at you?

  7. Do you not see friends or family because of your partner’s jealousy?

  8. Have you been forced into having sex when you didn’t want to?

  9. Are you afraid to break up because your partner has threatened to hurt you or himself?

  10. 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."




It is important for your partner to know if he or she is being abusive. Here are a few questions to consider:


  1. Do you constantly check up on your partner and accuse her of being with other people?

  2. Are you extremely jealous or possessive?

  3. Do you have an explosive temper?

  4. Have you hit, kicked, shoved, or thrown things at your partner?

  5. Do you constantly criticize or insult your partner?

  6. Do you become violent when you drink or use drugs?

  7. Have you threatened your partner or broken things in her presence?

  8. Have you forced your partner to have sex with you or intimidated her so she is afraid to say no.?

  9. Have you threatened to hurt her?

  10. 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 were helpful.


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 barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980 






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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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