Are you in an abusive relationship?
Sometimes, when a person is ‘in’ a relationship like these, it can be very hard to spot because you might not be looking at things from an objective point of view.
Words like, “It’s my fault” or “because he or she was really angry” or “he or she will change” as ways to justify abusive behavior can often blindside us into seeing the truth.
These points below may reveal the signs:
Your partner is overly controlling. The control may be direct or subtle, but you will feel as though you have very little choice in the relationship. The partner could also be controlling you in a passive-aggressive way by making you feel like the abuser when in reality, he or she is the one dictating you through subtle manipulation.
While we do not need to feel shameful about our emotions, relationships that have the tendency to swing from one extreme to another too frequently is a strong sign that abusive behaviors are present. Under normal circumstances, any form of non-violent communication should be the common way to communicate. The opposite often shows lack of self control and respect for the other person.
Co-dependency Two people may be in a co-dependency relationship. The abuser may be dependent on the partner for various reasons such as status, financial needs, transport, emotional support etc. They might even disguise those deep needs but control their partner in abusive ways to cover up their need for it. Likewise, the receiver may not like the abuse but depend deeply on the abuser for other things – that’s why both are blindsided to the issue because of co-dependency
One day the abuser says he or she going to change for the better. The next day he or she will forget everything that was said and go in the opposite direction. Constant fluctuations is a sign of a potentially unstable mind. It can also be used as a form of control that manipulates the partner in many ways.
History of violence and abuse in childhood
Some of these issues of abuse are rooted in a person’s past. For example, they may have had one or two abusive parents and the trauma is deeply rooted in their childhood. Children inadvertently pick up behaviors exhibited by their parents and bring these issues into their relationships. When you can recognize these in an abusive partner, often it is very hard to reverse since it was rooted at a young age.
The abuser can be highly judgmental of everything you do. They might perceive it as ‘love’ because they may think they are correcting the partner for their own good. But often times, it could be an illusion because they might not feel that their actions could be a result of their lack of patience and something ugly that they don’t want to see in themselves.
Gas-lighting is the act of making someone doubt their own sanity. The abuser might do this to their partner in order to avoid look at their issues or they could be fearful of other people finding out that the relationship is not as long as other people think. As a result, they make other people doubt their partner’s sanity by making the partner look as though they are the unstable one. If you suspect you are being gas-lighted, it may also lead to the next point.
You tend to blame yourself
Because of co-dependent relationships, the partner of an abuser might justify that the abusive partner is not at fault and may even go as far as blaming him or herself. “It’s all my fault that he acted that way…” or “I shouldn’t have been so demanding…” or “I should have been a better wife/husband”. You may have been gaslighted and ostracized by your friends so you might not be able to see that you are in an abusive relationship.
The abuser could be addicted to substances. It could be drugs, alcohol, and sometimes they could even be addicted to overworking or playing video games. Anything that takes up ‘mental bandwidth’ too much could trigger abusive behaviors.
Threaten to kill themselves
Another way abusers manipulate is to threaten to kill themselves. Most of the time, they won’t actually do it. They just use it as a mechanism for control because the partner will give in to such a behavior.
If you feel that your world is becoming smaller and smaller, then this is another red alert that you are in an abusive relationship. People who come out of these type of relationships often notice that before they are in a relationship, they used to have a lot of friends and a great social life. But over time, abusers limit their lives bit by bit and over time, their partner ‘lose themselves’ in an unhealthy twinship.
Name calling is a very bad thing. Even if the abuser doesn’t abuse physically, it is still emotional abuse. Name calling also leave emotional scars that is damaging to the self esteem and doesn’t necessarily go away. Physical wounds might heal but name calling might last a lifetime.
If you feel that you are being coerced into doing sexual acts against your will, it is a sign of being in an abusive relationship. Marital rape is quite common even though you may not see it that way. Even in a marriage, it has to be consensual.
If your partner refuse to give you money and hides your purse / wallet or your credit cards, it is also a sign of abuse that you need to watch out for. Sometimes, that person could be earning less money than you and could feel insecure and will seek to control you in subtle ways.
When there is little trust in a relationship, the abuser could be watching your every move and keeping tabs on you. “Why did you go here?” or “Who were you talking to?” are common words abusers use to instill guilt in their partners. Knowing if you are being stalked would reveal the extent your abuser is manipulating you.
Violating your personal boundaries
Last but not least, anything that violates a person’s healthy boundaries is a sign that your relationship is not healthy. A healthy relationship consist of both partners knowing where their limits are and not to cross it. If your partner violates your boundaries on a regular basis, it is time to seek help.
How does one get help?
Not all is lost if you realize you are in an abusive relationship.
Here are a number of ways to begin repairing the problem:
See if the partner is genuinely willing to change
If your partner really wants to change with all his or her heart, then there is a chance that the relationship can be saved.
It doesn’t matter what form the abuse is listed above. The abuser has to be willing to make the first move.
You can’t force him to change. If you do, the change is only temporary.
It takes a lot of inner work and courage to face such a challenge.
Sometimes, the abuser might feel that he or she is the ‘smart’ one or the one ‘in control to keep things together’.
Both must visit therapy together
Relationship therapy is always a good thing. But if you are the only one attending the therapy then it is not going to work out. Once again, relationship is a 2 way street so if you are visiting therapy alone, it is time to examine if you are the one not willing to leave.
Physically leave first
This might be hard. When you are ‘in’ the relationship, you might not feel the need to physically remove yourself from your partner. However, being in physical proximity might limit your judgement. Only after you leave first physically, you will be able to think clearer.
Seek help from family and friends
While friends and family might not understand the relationship fully, having support will help you through tremendously difficult times. Especially if you are depending on your abusive partner for financial or other forms of support, this could limit your desire to seek help from the outside.
Last but not least…
Call law enforcement
When all else fails, make sure you are not in danger first. Things could get really bad if you are not careful and you could be putting your kids in danger too. Seek help from law enforcement before things get worse.