Ariel Castro, the Ohio man convicted of kidnapped three women and imprisoning them in his house in a hellish existence for 10 years, has cheated his life-plus-1000-year prison sentence by hanging himself in his cell. He was found dead on Tuesday night after he managed to evade the guards who checked on him every 30 minutes in order to kill himself.
Castro represented an extreme in a controlling man. He kidnapped the women when they were only 14, 16, and 20 years old and raped and abused them at will until their rescue a decade later.
However, there are many levels to abusive relationships, and abusers can be male or female. If you feel your partner is controlling or sometimes wonder whether there's something wrong in your relationship, weigh it against these signs:
1) Does your partner try to keep you away from family members and friends? Obviously, Ariel Castro went to an extreme in this regard, literally keeping the three women prisoner, but most abusers do it more subtly. They get angry and resentful when you spend time with others and constantly check up on you until you reach the point where it just doesn't feel worth it to be apart.
2) Does your partner exhibit extreme signs of jealousy? Abusers control their partners in part because of jealousy. They can't stand for their significant others to pay attention to anyone else, and they get enraged if their partners interact with others, even if it's a completely innocent social exchange.
3) Does your partner blame you for his or her mistakes? Ariel Castro was a classic victim blamer. He denied imprisoning the woman, claiming, "I just kept them there without being able to leave." Abusers will say, "Why do you make me so mad? Why do you make me hit you?" instead of owning their issues.
4) Does your partner make you account for every little bit of time when you're away from him or her? Obvious, Ariel Castro always knew what his victims were doing since they were completely under his control. In most circumstances, the control comes in constant texts and phone calls when you're apart and constant demands to know exactly what you were doing and with whom.
5) Does your partner hold you to unrealistic standards? Obviously, kidnapping women and forcing them to be sex slaves is an extreme, but typical abusers have their own unreasonable expectations. They expect perfection from their partners and often get enraged when the other person doesn't live up to the impossible standards. When you're with an abuser, it feels like your always walking on egg shells and waiting for the firestorm when you accidentally crack one.
If you're in an abusive relationship, get professional help. There are many resources available, which you can find through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.