abuse_mel_gibson_signs.jpgMel Gibson may have taken a hiatus from making movies, but he's certainly still making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

A series of tapes where Gibson is hurling obscenities at his girlfriend, Oksana Gregorieva, has been media fodder for the last week or so. Gibson's vile outbursts were laced with either the F-word or the N-word and, at times, even death threats. The latest of the sordid tapes record Gibson gruffly demanding oral sex and threatening to burn the house down if he didn't get it.

His girlfriend had previously filed a domestic violence case against him saying that he had knocked her teeth out and hit her while she was holding their baby. Click here to see images of Oksana Gregorieva's broken teeth.

In 2006, Gibson, who directed the critically acclaimed The Passion of the Christ, was arrested for driving under the influence  minor misdemeanor that was overshadowed by his flagrant display of bigotry as he spat out all sorts of racial slurs at the arresting officer.

When did the inspiring star of Braveheart and The Patriot turn into a foul-mouthed racist wife beater? Or did he? According to this post on TheHollywoodGossip.com, Gibson's legal team is claiming that the tapes were edited and tampered with and even Gregorieva's dentist has said that the photos have been altered. Another post shares that Judge Scott Gordon, a former prosecutor specializing in domestic violence cases, ruled that Gibson does not pose a threat to his daughter; it's speculated that this ruling was in large part due to a testimony from Robyn Gibson, Mel's wife of 28 years and the mother of his seven children.

But according to Anna Leah Sarabia, Founder and Executive Director of Kalakasan (Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan), the leap from verbal to physical abuse is not a great one.

If he abuses people, even verbally, that is one indication of a violent temper, she says. Sarabia, who has spent years counseling victims of violence and spousal abuse, has a list of signs of an abuser, all of which are discussed during campus tours.

And abuse is more common than you would think. According to the Washington-based National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.  An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

But how can you tell if a guy is going to be abusive down the line? We've mapped out some early warning signs. If you recognize these signs in a guy you've been seeing, it's a good indication that you should run as fast and as far away as you can.

*Note: In instances below, names have been changed by request to respect the individuals' privacy.

Click on the warning signs below to learn more about them, or simply read on.
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(Photo from Signs courtesy of Touchstone Pictures)


THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER

Angie* thinks that her boyfriend, Marco*, is the kind, caring type because he always checks up on her and asks her where she's going and who she's with. She finds it cute when shows a bit of jealousy if there are other guys in the group that she's going out with. It's because he cares, she gushes.

What should trip your alarm: He's extremely jealous! 

An abusive boyfriend will check up on you and keep track of where you are and who you hang out with. He thinks of you as a possession, and he'll be extremely jealous about guys he thinks may try take away what is his, whether or not these suspicions are unfounded.


abuse_mel_gibson_snake_charmer.jpgTHE SNAKE CHARMER

Later on, Angie admitted that she was starting to feel a bit suffocated by Marco's excessive attention. She also had reason to believe that he was cheating on her. Every time she tried to break up with him, he would break down uncontrollably. She interpreted it as a sign of tenderness and vulnerability and found it endearing. In the end, Angie always took Marco back.

What should trip your alarm: He panics at the idea of breaking up.

An abusive boyfriend usually breaks down and cries when you threaten to end a relationship. It is a tool they use to make girls their emotional prisoners.


THE BODYGUARD

Nini's* friends all thought that Sherden* was the most thoughtful husband ever. He would pick her up from the office every day and patiently wait for her to finish working. He was always overly solicitous and always at her side, sometimes even during meetings and corporate events.

Sometimes Sherden would send Nini flowers at work just because. Many didn't realize that Sherden also had an ugly side.

If he had been kept waiting too long, he would drive recklessly, often scaring Nini or snapping at the waiter when they were finally able to eat. He belittled her work and said that no matter how hard she worked, she would never get anywhere in her career. These outbursts were often the reasons for the flowers and offers of contrition.

What should trip your alarm: He swings back and forth from sweet to mean and back again!

The cycle starts when he is intentionally hurtful, then becomes sweet the next day but only for a while. You keep hoping that this is the last cycle, but it never is!

What should trip your alarm: He has a scary temper!


If your boyfriend blows up or does dangerous things like driving away too fast because he is mad or getting in fights with waiters and security guards, someday that temper could be turned on you!


(Photo source: sxc.hu)


THE ISOLATOR

Isa* recently broke up with Rick and realized that she not only had to rebuild her sense of self, but also her relationships with the friends that she had had before getting serious with him in the first place.

Ricky wanted to spend a lot of time alone, like the two of us all the time, she says. Our relationship consumed me, and I didn't realize that it cost me my friends whom I had spent so little time with during the two years that we were together.

What should trip your alarm: He makes unreasonable demands for your unconditional and undivided attention and insists that you drop your hobbies, passions, social activities, and work.

Sarabia says we also have to reconsider our definition of love and reevaluate our romantic notions about relationships. We often equate it [love] to surrender. We forget ourselves and feel that being in love means taking everything that is thrown at us.

Being in love also means recognizing when we should walk away from a relationship for the simple reason that while we may truly love a man, we should always love ourselves more.


OTHER SIGNS OF A POTENTIAL ABUSER (FROM KALAKASAN FDN, INC.)

abuse_mel_gibson_punch.jpgHe says he loves you but he:

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  • Intentionally hurts you!  If he hits your arm, kicks you, pulls your hair, or breaks your favorite things even once, forget him!
  • Repeatedly puts you down!  He says nobody else would want you because you are too fat or too ugly, and he makes you constantly worry about the slightest mistakes.
  • Cuts you off from your friends! He doesn't allow you to text or call your friends when you're together. The only voice he wants you to listen to is his own.
  • Blames you for his anger! He keeps saying it's your fault that because of some mistake you made or something you did, you had it coming.
  • Lashes out at you!  An abusive boyfriend will shame you or say cruel things about you, whether in private or in front of other people.


If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, call the Women's Crisis Center at the East Avenue Medical Center, East Avenue, Quezon City, at (632) 922-5235. The fax number is (632) 924-9315.


(Photo source: sxc.hu)
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