DV101: Warning Signs

It’s a radio ad for UMSL

And a Lesson in DV101

There is no way to guess out of what context this conversation was taken. The two speakers, shall we call them Dick & Jane for shits & grins?, may be in a perfectly healthy relationship that continues along the path of mutual respect, but I doubt it, and Jane probably doesn’t see it: the warning signs are here and we can learn from this little chat.

Kelly Who – YouTube

Dick & Jane are spending their last weekend together before splitting up to go to separate colleges. Dick is going to Out of Town University for football, music, and party, party, party, and Jane is staying close to home for education, family, and location, location, location.

This is in media res, and so lies my disdain (since I have already acknowledged they could be in a healthy relationship blah blah blah). It’s going to take me a few sentences to get to the point (not unlike normal writing for me, I suppose). We’ll admire some trees on our trek to knowledge, then step back to see the forest and the smoke rising.

  • Dick is asking Jane, again, why she wants to go to a different school. It’s her decision to stay home that he questions, not his decision to leave home. Jane has to explain herself again, and ask him to listen again. Family, career, and future opportunities fall on deaf ears.
  • Dick reminds her she can come home and visit; she can still follow him to OTU and have time at home: the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too promise ever so popular with abusers. Jane lists her reasons again, this time citing pragmatic, not personal, reasons.
  • Dick reminds her she has the same interests as him and can be with him while he attends football games and parties. Since she also likes football, there should be no reason she wouldn’t also like every single one of his other immature interests, no matter how clearly they conflict with her goals.

It’s easy enough to stop here and justify that anyone would want to try to convince their jane to join them at their college. Football and frats are important and no dick selects a college that he doesn’t like, be it for monogram, mascot, or money. It’s also true that anyone would want to try to convince their dick to join them at their college. Family and faculty are important and no jane selects a college that she doesn’t like, be it for future, family, or finances.

That’s fine, honey, Kelly’s got Rams tickets,” says Jane, and The Turn occurs. Dick gets defensive, hears Jane talk of other boys, gets jealous, and decides to enroll.

It isn’t the wide open world, brought to you by your education at UMSL, that allures Dick to the university. It isn’t the career possibilities, family, or award-winning faculty in award-winning programs. His soon-to-be ex-girlfriend already has someone to replace him and plans, already, to spend time with Kelly at Rams games, will be hanging out with people at the Loop, and is altogether planning to move on through college into adulthood, leaving Dick in the dust.

Can. Not. Happen. The direction an abusive relationship might take would include intrusion, isolation, possession, control, and misogyny.



Now that Dick knows Jane is willing and able to leave him behind, he will question her every move: where she is going and who is going to be there, how long will she be there and what time she will be home? He may begin texting frequently to keep her focus on him while she is out. He may call to check if the background noise matches where she said she would be.

Initially, this kind of attention can seem endearing. It’s supposed to.


Dick will probably get tired of the work it takes to keep up with a defiant woman like Jane and begin to weed out her support system. Abusers are able to convince the abusee that their friends have only selfish interests and not true frienterests. The intrusion helps this tactic: remember when so&so didn’t show up, remember when so&so cancelled, remember when so&so left early…. And, sometimes it’s just easier not to go out with so&so, so&so, and so&so to avoid listening to Dick talk about how awful they are.

If there is no one to turn to, she is less likely to turn.


Dick is already jealous: jealous of Kelly, jealous of the friends-to-be at the Loop, and jealous of the parties and nightlife that Jane already has planned. Jealousy is a warning sign of possessiveness. Jealousy is fairly common, but when it reaches domination and control over another’s life, it’s abuse.

People get jealous, but it shouldn’t become a need to eliminate someone’s ambition and success.


Dick knows that without him setting the course, Jane will go astray again. She has already proven that she can. The best way for an abuser to control the outcome is to determine the outcome. Dick will make the future plans to maintain the course of life he has selected. Jane will take responsibility when something goes wrong.

It will go his way. It will all go his way, and everyone goes along with him.


It’s one thing if Dick doesn’t like his ex’s. Good. They’re ex’s for a reason. But it’s something else entirely if every one of them is a bitch, if every one of them is the reason they aren’t together, if every one of them, them ,them, them. Extreme hatred that doesn’t diminish over time, or after a drunken fire fest burn all the memories bonfire with his buddies, is anti-women to the extreme.

It’s easy to objectify someone who represents something hated so thoroughly.


None of these characteristics work alone. Intrusion and isolation work together with possessiveness and control to feed the misogynist monster.


  1. DV…can go the other way around too

    1. It certainly can. More and more men are talking about it, and I believe it.

  2. There are a whole lot of patterns in that room!

  3. Hey I just wanted to say Thank you for addressing this commercial. I was just doing a search for this commercial and found this. This commercial irks me every time it comes on. Thanks again and oh, who’s Kelly ?

    1. Ha! Kelly indeed. I poked around UMSL.com to see if it was one of their student activity centers/buildings, a portal, or anything; who I found was Kelly Heissler, an admissions recruiter with UMSL since 2010.

      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one bothered by this ad. Thanks for letting me know.

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