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Controlling or Possessive First Sign of Abuser

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

Please tell me if I am being paranoid. My 44-year-old divorced sister has a boyfriend (also divorced) who is always shows up when I visit her, and will not let me be alone with my sister. He has set up his computer to share the same modem as hers because I think he wants to screen her emails. He also has the keys to her apartment and car. When my sister and I planned an out of town trip together, he found out and took her himself, saying he just wanted her to see it with him first. He buys her gifts, takes her out to expensive places, and has proposed marriage.

My sister has tried to break up with him, but he will not let her. He seems very controlling - a manipulator. I feel he could be dangerous. How do you tell an obsessed and possessive person? I am worried for my sister.



Dear Paranoid,

You are not paranoid, but have good reasons to be concerned for your sister who may be in an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships do not always involve physical violence. Humiliation, criticism, and jealousy are used to control their victim. Emotional abuse, verbal mistreatment, isolation, and manipulation are signs of an abusive person and warning signals of a physical abuser.

If your sister has not yet suffered any physical harm from her boyfriend and wants to end the relationship, then she must change the locks on her car and apartment, screen her phone calls, and change her computer password access code. However, if she is afraid to break off the relationship because she feels she might be harmed, then she should follow the tips for women who need a safety plan for escaping an abusive partner.