There are a lot of campaigns around now about domestic violence, and putting a stop to it. This is all well and good, however it's primarily aimed at women being abused. What if it's the woman abusing the man? Why are men so easily downgraded and forgotten about?
The truth is women can be just as vicious, controlling and manipulative as men, women who abuse their husband or boyfriend and seemingly get away with it purely because they are female.
Another misconception that isn't corrected by these campaigns, is that domestic violence is always physical. It isn't. A lot of people are abused mentally and emotionally instead, and this can be just as harmful, with some serious side effects.
So this is an article that hits both nails on the head; it is about emotional abuse instead of physical, and is primarily aimed at men being abused by women.
These are the top signs your wife or girlfriend is abusing you, and if these ring some alarm bells, it is time to get help!
#1 - WITHHOLDING
There are many ways to withhold things, but the main one I see in abusive women is to withhold money. It doesn't matter whether it was the man who earned it, the abuser will not let him touch it. In some cases she will even take away his bank cards, forcing him to ask for permission before using any of the money he worked so hard to earn. This gives her the opportunity to grill him, which most of the time she will, on why he wants the money, why he needs it, and what he plans to spend it on. If he is very very lucky, she will let him have it. But most of the time she won't. She'll come up with some reason why he can't have it, or in the best-case scenario she'll let him have some of what he asked for. The chances of her letting him have exactly what he needs is slim.
Some men are allowed an 'allowance' of a certain amount each week. This is better than not being allowed anything, but it is still excessive control, and it is still a form of abuse. He is not a child.
The abuser does this for a few reasons, but mostly it's to have full control over her man. Ask her about it, however, and she'll have a list of ready-made excuses for her actions. These include reasons along the lines of how she is just trying to budget effectively, or make sure money isn't being wasted. She may claim money is tight and that she needs to be careful about where it goes. Not buying it sweetheart, it is more than possible to talk to your partner and to agree on a budget together. It is surprisingly easy to have a conversation with him and to discuss and agree on what money should and should not be spent on.
Don't buy into the excuses, and don't condone them. Withholding bank cards and all access to money that should be being shared as a family, is not cool. It is abuse both in the eyes of most of society, and also in the eyes of the law. That's the bottom line.
Another thing they will commonly withhold is love and affection. This may be achieved by giving you the silent treatment. The tragic thing here is, they are always withholding love and affection. The 'love' and 'affection' they may show from time-to-time is nearly always fake, and is just another method of controlling you. They realise your love is real, and they will play on that big time. If they had true love for you, they would not be abusing you. You don't abuse the ones you love. Does she abuse her Mum? Exactly.
#2 - ISOLATION
Abusers will often try to isolate their partner from their friends and family. Again, they will have a steady stream of excuses to 'back up' their actions. They may say that your friend or family member is untrustworthy, or a troublemaker. They will latch on to any small habit the person they are trying to isolate you from has, and use it as an excuse to stop you from seeing them. If you have a friend that drinks a couple of times a week, she will claim they are an alcoholic. If they have mental health issues she may say they are dangerous and unpredictable. If they are female and not related to you, she will claim they are trying to steal you, or that she can't trust you around them. She will say it's not normal for a male to have a platonic female friend, and that there is nearly always something going on. If you are in a relationship with an abusive female, it is almost certain that you will not get to keep any female friends.
On the other end, if your abuser sees certain friends or family members as a potential threat to the relationship and abuse she has going on, she may actually go out of her way to impress them. She will work hard to stay on their good side, and this is to project the image that she is good for you, thereby stopping them from even believing abuse may be going on, let alone reporting it. This is all done for her own protection, and is proof that she can control her actions and emotions.. meaning she is in control when she's abusing you too. The most common person she will try to impress is your Mum.
#3 - THREATENING
Threats from a female abuser can take many forms, but by far the most common one is 'I will take away the kids and you will never see them again'. Not only is this cruel and abusive to you, it is being indirectly cruel and abusive to the children too. Using innocent kids as a weapon is never acceptable.
If you are stuck in this situation, remind yourself of who is in the wrong here. She may think she has the upper hand in a child court case because she's female, but if you can prove she is a domestic abuser, the court will swing widely in your favour.
Please don't feel like you have to stay just to stay in contact with your children, that's precisely what she wants you to think. She does it because she already knows that she is being abusive, and therefore knows you probably want to leave. This is her despicable attempt to keep you firmly in her grips.
She may also use things you have done in the past, or that she suspects you are doing as a threat. This may include threats to call the police on you. Or she may even threaten to make things up to use against you: 'I'll tell everyone you abuse me, or hit me, or threaten me.' This is eye-opening because usually the lies she threatens to use against you should you leave, are exactly the things she is actually doing herself. If she is threatening to use them against you, this means she knows they are wrong. In other words, she knows the way she is treating you is wrong. Yet she does it anyway.
#4 - ACCUSATIONS
Unfounded accusations are a favourite of female abusers, and they stem from severe insecurity. But it's also a back-up excuse to then control and watch absolutely everything you do.
The most common accusation is that you are cheating, but she may also accuse you of doing drugs, or going to other places when you should be at work.
She will use these fears as an excuse to invade your privacy, and should you try to protect it, she will rant and rave that you are guilty and trying to hide something.
#5 - INVASION OF PRIVACY
Abusers will invade every aspect of your privacy, and will use previous accusations, concerns or fears as an excuse to do so.
They will check your phone, your emails, your social media accounts, and in extreme cases may even stalk you physically. If they find anything slightly suspect they will lose it, and go into a full-blown rage. Something as innocent as a female friend adding you on Facebook can turn into an intense arguement about who are they, and are you sleeping with them.
This is a form of abuse. End of. You are entitled to your privacy, and being married doesn't delete these rights. The law says that according to human rights, you are entitled to your privacy. Now unless your girlfriend or wife is some sort of God (which I highly doubt) then she is not above these laws.
Don't be guilt-tripped into handing over your privacy because of her insecurities. It has become far too common and far too accepted for women to be able to snoop through their partner's phone, emails or social media accounts. But that doesn't make it right.
#6 - NO FREEDOM
We live in a day and age where freedom is a basic human right. Unfortunately a lot of oppressed countries still don't allow freedom, but if you are living in the western world in a free country, you should not be oppressed.
And I hate to be harsh, but anyone who oppresses or controls you does not love or care about you. Not even close.
She may control where you go, when you can go, and who you can be with. She may even order you to do things you don't want to do. She will force you to obey her by using threats and blackmail. Simply put, she is a cowardly bully.
She may pretend to let you do some things, like attend a club or join a team, but she will go out of her way to make sure you hardly ever actually go. Make no mistake, this was her plan from the beginning, she knew full well she was going to put a stop to it, she's just trying to create the illusion that she lets you do what you want.
Throughout all of this, she will continue to do whatever the hell she wants to do, and see whoever she wants to see. She will do what she wants, when she wants. Now if that doesn't set alarm bells ringing I don't know what will. A relationship should be about love and equality, it should not be a situation with a prisoner and a prison guard. You are not in jail, you did not commit a crime. She is committing one though.
#7 - PROJECTION
An abuser and a narcissist will always project their issues onto you. They will put all blame on you. If they invade your privacy they will blame it on you for being 'untrustworthy'. If they go into a rage they will blame you for making them feel that way. It is never their own fault, or their own doing.
They will project their issues, their jealousy, their insecurity and their anger on to you in a vain attempt to make themselves feel better, but also to make you feel as miserable as they are. Don't allow it. Stand up for yourself. She will get defensive and will rage at you, but stand up for yourself anyway. No one ever defeated a bully by standing there and taking it.
#8 - SABOTAGE
Narcissists (and that's what most emotional abusers are) are very good at playing games and getting their own way. One of their favourite games, aside from actively destroying you every day, is to sabotage things.
Sometimes they can be really cruel and sneaky about it too, like agreeing to let you go to a social event, but then finding an excuse to throw a massive tantrum on the day and thereby stopping you from going. This will have been the plan from the day you first mentioned it. They have literally been sitting there thinking about ways they can sabotage it for you. They are putting time and effort into ruining your life. People like that don't deserve your love or time. Hell, they don't deserve anyone's.
Perhaps you will ask them if you can go to something, and they will pretend they have something they were planning to do on the same day. They don't have plans for that same day, but they will sneak around and go and make some now, just to spite you.
Another good one I've seen is for them to hide your car keys so you literally can't drive anywhere, and can't escape. If your car keys conveniently disappear when you are supposed to be going somewhere, there may be more to it.
#9 - STARTING ARGUMENTS
She will be very good at starting arguments out of anything and everything. Hell, she'll make an argument out of literally nothing.
There are several reasons she does this.. she wants to put you down, put you in your place, and remind you who is in charge. Or she wants to use the argument as an excuse to stop you from doing something or seeing someone. Or maybe she's just starting one for fun, because abusers often find cruel things fun. Sometimes she does it in an attempt to make you pander to her and vie for her love and affection, and this is done purely to make herself feel better.
#10 - FLYING MONKEYS
For every abuser, there is a group of friends that know what's going on but choose to ignore it. Then there are those friends who will go one step further, and will actively help with the abuse. This is so common, there is actually a term for them: Flying Monkeys.
Flying Monkeys can be an accomplice either knowingly or unknowingly. The ones who do it knowingly will often spy on you and grass on you, and the thing that really chokes me up here, is that it's not even just the abuser's friends, they have been known to use their own children to do this too.
WHY SHE DOES IT
Simply put, she is very jealous, very insecure, and very weak. But that doesn't mean you should condone or excuse her behaviour. Being jealous or insecure is never a valid excuse to be a bully or a narcissist. I know people who have been through far worse and have managed to come out better not bitter. She is weak because she has allowed her insecurities to eat her alive, and she is even weaker because she has projected her pain and suffering on to you. Strong women don't do that.
The other possibility is that she was spoilt as a child, to the point where she has become convinced that she is overly special, that she is some kind of God. She thinks she can and should control other people, and have them do her bidding. She thinks she deserves to be worshipped.
Other reasons she may do it is because cruelty, degradation, bullying, and control are fun for her. Now that's evil if ever I saw it..
POTENTIAL EFFECTS ON YOU
There are many emotional, mental and physical effects that domestic abuse has on a man. None of them are healthy, and none of them are good.
You will deteriorate, and this will be noticeable to anyone who actually has their eyes open. You will probably become depressed, sometimes even suicidal. You may even turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. You will probably struggle with sleeping, and your immune system may be lower than usual, leading you to get colds and flus more frequently.
It is likely that your friends (when you are allowed to see them) will have noticed, they probably just don't know how to react, how to help, or what to say.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOTHING
I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it is unlikely she will change. It's not impossible, but it is unlikely. It takes a huge amount of strength, or a major life-changing event for them to buck their ideas up and cut the crap. Now we already know that strength isn't exactly one of her talents, so she will have to work even harder to build some up. This isn't something you can give her, this is something she has to do for herself. You can't fix her, she can only do that on her own.
Now the problem here is that a lot of the time the abuser seriously doesn't see any issue in their actions, they probably even think you're asking for it. Now how do you convince someone like that to change?
As for the major life-changing event, if you have had children together this counts as a major life-changing event. I have seen abusive women snap out of it instantly once having children, so it can happen. They realise they have an example to set, they realise that the things they were insecure about were unfounded, unnecessary and suddenly unimportant. But if having a young child doesn't make her grow up, it's unlikely anything else will either.
You may love her, but you have to love yourself too. Emotional abuse, when untackled, will only get worse. Think back to the beginning of the relationship to now; have things progressed and increased? I'm willing to bet they have. This won't stop. It will be hard to leave, particularly when she blackmails and threatens you, but you have to do it. You have the responsibility to do it for yourself, but more importantly you have the responsibility to do it for your children. What effect do you think this situation is having on them? They will grow up thinking it is ok to disrespect the ones you love, they will think it is ok to bully, to degrade, and to destroy. Nobody wants their children to grow up like that, and that is not what this world needs.
Time to make a change, time to be you again. Time to get healthy and get happy. Time to walk away.
There are countless ways to go the extra mile for your customers, and it all depends on your business and target market. You can personalise and tailor-make ways that work perfectly for you, your product, and your customer. And if you really put your thinking cap on, you can even come up with entirely new ways too.
Here are some ways I go the extra mile in my new crystal business as an example, and most of these can be applied to any business anywhere..
#1 - SERVICE WITH A SMILE
I have years and years of experience in retail and customer service, including formal qualifications. They have proven priceless to me now that I'm running my own show, but the important thing to remember here is this: nearly every skill I have picked up, remembered, mastered, or tweaked, has been through my own trial and error, my own common sense, and by reflecting on my own experiences as a customer. Simply put, nearly anyone can do it, nearly anyone can learn it. You don't have to have formal qualifications, you customer won't care about those, all they care about is how you treat them, and whether you look after them.
Customers want to be treated with kindness, respect, and dignity. But to put it more simply, they want to be treated like a real-life human with real-life feelings. Because that's what they are! Perhaps the quickest, and easiest way to answer the question: 'How should I treat my customers?' or 'How should I deal with this difficult situation?' is to ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were the customer.
Think of all the times you have left a business feeling deflated, hurt, or angry. What happened to make you feel that way? Right, avoid those things like the plague! Now think of times when you have left a business feeling happy, like a star, like you were important. What happened to make you feel like that? That is what you want to emulate in your own business right there!
Heck, write everything down as a list of dos and don'ts and stick it up on your office wall if you want. It'll be a constant reminder and something to look at daily. You can do all the Googling and reading you want, but by far the best insights I have had have come from putting myself in the customer's shoes in each individual situation, and acting accordingly.
Sure, some people will be rude and angry, but you have to avoid becoming the
same yourself. It won't help matters in any way whatsoever, no matter how tempting it may be. But at the same time, it's important not to quiver and shake and be a flat out pushover. You can stand up for your policies, you can support your dream, but stay calm and respectful about it. And admit when you are wrong! You'd be surprised how much a customer's demeanor can change when you just admit that you actually messed up. People love honesty and humility; they respect it. It can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one that even comes back to shop again in the future. Trust me, I speak from experience!
Giving good service might not seem like going the extra mile, but sadly it kinda is. Because bad service is all too common nowadays, in both big and small businesses. So be different, go the extra mile, make service a top priority. Your customers will thank you for it, they will return to you for it, and they will tell their friends about it too.
#2 - LITTLE MISS CHATTERBOX
Here's the thing with big businesses: it's nigh-on impossible to reach a human, and if you do they usually don't know what they're on about. This leads to a lot of frustration, and a customer who will put their hands up and walk away. I know I do.
Time's are changing, customers are switching to smaller businesses, and for many many reasons (but that's another post). One of the benefits of using a small business is that the customer can usually converse with the owner, and even get to know them a little. That's what they want! People want to buy from people. They want to know that the person they are supporting is nice, honest, and has a good heart. And if that's what you are, by all means show it off! Why not?
I frequently converse with customers via email or social media, and I let them get to know me. I'll answer their questions on why I'm into crystals, which ones are my favourites, and what I do in my spare time. They love it! They'll give me the same in return too, and I enjoy it equally as much. I've had customers send me photos of the jewellery or grids they have made with my crystals, and it makes me feel fuzzy inside. It's very touching to get a peek into their lives and passions, and that's why they seek to peek into yours.
Sometimes you will make a new friend, and I think, for me personally, that's absolutely fine. Friends are always happy to support you, will tell their other friends about you, and will even teach you things you never knew. They'll also be honest, but kind, about things you could improve, or things that might sell well.
Getting to know your customers, and letting them get to know you, is invaluable in so many ways. So don't be afraid to have a natter with them when you can, they'll love you for it.
#3 - WILD AND FREE
Who doesn't love free stuff? No, seriously, name me one person. You can't.
I put free crystals in every single large order I get, to say thank you. I even put free ones in random small orders too. Sure, you have the cost of the product you're giving away, but trust me when I say it comes back to you. How?
Well, by putting in free gifts, you are showing you care, you are grateful, and you are thoughtful. But on your end, you're getting a chance to advertise your other products. For me, it nearly always ends up in an order for more of those free crystals. Because they see them and fall in love with them, just as I did. They can see photos of the product online, but nothing beats seeing and holding them in-person. Particularly with crystals.
I go the extra mile by really putting thought into which crystals I put in for free. I look at the customer's current order, and sometimes even previous orders. This gives me a gauge of what they like, and I choose accordingly. Sometimes I'll put in more of the same, but of a different and complementary colour. So if they order my hot pink quartz, I'll slip in some pastel pink quartz too. Or if they order the more natural pieces, like Tanzanite, I'll slip in another natural crystal that's a similar style or colour, or even of a similar rarity. A little thought goes a long way, and it will make your customer really smile. That's the ticket right there!
#4 - DON'T FEED GREED
In a world where everyone is out to make as much dollar as they can, be the business that puts service above money. Do that, and the funds will come naturally anyway.
Also, don't rip people off. Your customers aren't stupid, and they sure as hell
don't want you to make them feel like they are. They are shopping ninjas, they know what's what, and they know what it's worth. Don't get me wrong, a customer will pay a higher price if they are getting the quality and service to match. They'll shun other businesses and come to yours, even with a higher price, if they like you. But, and it's a big but, they don't ever want to be ripped off. End of.
Here's a prime example.. a lady on Etsy was buying in large crystal points from China at $1.50 a piece, then selling them for $15. It worked, with some people, and for a little while.. until the original Chinese supplier also set up shop on Etsy and started offering the same product for a tinsy fraction of the cost. Whoops! What happened? Well the customers not only stopped paying $15 a point, but they were fuming. That Etsy seller has since shut up shop and presumably gone out of business. It never EVER pays to be greedy. It will come back and bite you on the ass.
You can charge a reasonable price, and still make money. I manage it quite well, and my customer base is steadily growing because of it. You can overcharge and get 5 orders a week, or charge reasonably and bring in 50 orders a week. Sometimes it pays more to charge less. Have a play around, and find your sweet spot.. the spot where your customers are getting a reasonable price, but you're covering costs. You'll find it, and you'll know it when you do. Then everybody is happy.
Not feeding the greed should go without saying, and not be considered as a business going the extra mile, but from my experience of shopping as a customer, it is.
#5 - I OPEN AT THE CLOSE
This is my latest goal and venture.. something which isn't in play yet but will be soon. That is the closing experience when the customer opens her parcel. The open at the close.
In other words: packaging.
At the moment my packaging is acceptable, in that I have never had crystals arrive in more than one piece. I wrap them generously, and they are well protected. Which is important with crystals. But they packaging isn't pretty. It could be better. It could be an experience on it's own.
I have ordered countless crystals over the years, and the packaging has varied. Sometimes it has been pretty, but not protective. Other times it has been protective, but not pretty (like mine). And sometimes it has been both, which is probably the ideal situation.
One of the problems here is it will definitely eat into your costs, and you may have to raise your prices slightly.
The other dilemma is that some customers just aren't fussed about it being pretty. They see it as wasteage and unnecessary. I am one of them, and that is why I haven't upgraded to 'pretty' thus far. But at the same time, there's something touching and special about a thoughtful and creative packaging experience, and other customers really appreciate it.
I am currently working on achieving all the pretty, without it being excessive. That in itself is proving thought-provoking, but I think if I can achieve it, it will pay off and both types of customers will be happy.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but they're top-secret at this stage. But have a think about how you can go the extra mile with your packaging.