By Rebecca Kimbel, DTM

October, the month dedicated to remembering those who were killed in domestic violence, the month to make people aware of domestic violence and the month to help people defuse and over come domestic violence.

Men and women experience domestic violence. Many don't recognize they are experiencing domestic violence, especially if they have grown up with it or have been taught such dysfunctional behavior is normal. Here are some guidelines to understanding and recognizing typical behavior patterns in domestic violence.

Domestic violence is more than physical abuse. It is controlling another person, keeping them under your power and holding them responsible for your anger, unhappiness or behavior.

Abusers typically demand excessive attention and don't want to share their mate with anyone, especially their mate's friends and family. They hold their mate responsible for their happiness, their anger and their negative behavior.

Abusers feel superior and behave accordingly, especially when they can make their mate dependent upon them. Knowing their mate needs them creates a threat of not meeting their needs if the abuser doesn't get what he or she wants.

Negative criticism, degradation and finding fault are tools of the abuser. Criticizing what one says, wears or weighs erodes the victim's self esteem. Abusers feel powerful when they destroy the self confidence and self empowerment of others. Abusers believe negative aggressiveness is power. They are unaware that it is more likely a sign of insecurity. Why would a desirable person have to threaten or coerce their mate to stay with them? They wouldn't.

Healthy people stay with each other because they want to, not because they are threatened. Abusive behavior drives an emotional wedge between the abuser and those they control. When abusers realize their behavior will probably cause the very thing they are afraid of, which is loosing their mate, many abusers to rethink their strategy. Some abusers find incentive to change when they learn their current behavior won't produce the results they really want. Changing a person's thinking can also change their actions if they have a desire to change. Dysfunctional behavior is the result of ignorance, which we can overcome. It's harder overcome our pride and change our behavior.

Learning to be endearing instead of threatening, accepting instead of critical and helping instead of complaining can save a relationship. Many couples wrapped in the pain of an abusive relationship admit they still love each other. They desperately need to learn new ways of relating. Learning how to keep love in a relationship can be the result of deliberate choice. Refusing to give or receive domestic violence is wise. Seek the help and wisdom you need. Domestic violence doesn't have to rule your life.

Rebecca Kimbel is a motivational speaker and a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest accomplishment award of Toastmasters International. Kimbel is also on the board of Safe Kids Now. She is at www.rebeccakimbel.com.