Love can be a confusing and complicated thing. However, confusing an abusive relationship with love can be extremely dangerous for both your mental and physical health. Unfortunately, there aren’t many abuse victims who have the rationale to see the danger signs in their relationship.
In order to help such victims realize their plight, we’ve compiled a list of possible signs. These may let you know if you’ve been the recipient of any kind of abuse in your relationship. If you have, we’ve also included a few pointers on how to get out of those shackles:
The best relationships are those which are more or less equal. Both of you do the house chores; have careers/jobs, and pitch in to help each other. However, if someone claims to love you but puts a huge burden on you…you may want to rethink your relationship.
Do you have the responsibility of getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner ready, along with rushing off to work? Are you the one struggling with the kids every night while he lies back with the TV remote? If so, you’re probably doing a whole lot more than he is.
How to Handle: Don’t fall into this trap from the get-go. Many men have been brought up with the lessons on not touching ‘woman’s work’. Don’t be afraid to point out that you are earning too, or doing the equally important work of a homemaker. Value your own efforts, and demand a break every now and then. If he’s a decent person, after all, he would be up to the task.
You may find him interrupting you, talking over your head, or just plain ignoring you unless he needs something. This is a definite red flag that means you don’t really figure in his life. He may also ignore the passage of time and refuse to even consider a commitment.
If this is the case, he may well justify his cheating on you or even getting physically abusive. The first signs may be subtle, but they could get very serious if left unchecked.
How to Handle: Once again, start pushing back as early as possible. There’s no need to stand with your head bowed when he ignores you. Demand his attention and his repeated in no uncertain terms. If he is too engrossed in something else, ask him to clear out some time especially to talk. If nothing happens, let everything be and start looking around for someone who would give you the relationship you deserve.
Being with your partner may mean shrinking into the couch as he makes mean jokes about your weight, height, job, etc. He may do this both in public and in private, leaving you a blubbering mess every day.
This is because while an abuser would claim to love you, they would want you to have no self-esteem. This could be out of a need to empower themselves, or chip away at your confidence and independence. This is a means of making you more dependent on them. For instance, they may ‘joke’ that you would never be really thin, no matter how much you try to lose weight. It just might be that they want you to feel so unattractive that you wouldn’t go looking for a better option.
How to Handle: get in top shape for yourself, not anyone else. Don’t let anyone dictate what’s beautiful to you. Once you are confident enough, confront him openly and tell him what’s what.
You may try to fight back, or someone may stand up for you. However, this only serves to make things worse. This is because the abuser could always treat whatever he said as a joke. He would then accuse you of being too rigid or boring, or not having the sense to appreciate his humor.
Basically, anything you do for yourself is unacceptable to them. They simply want someone who is broken and would stick to them because of their feeling of incompleteness.
How to Handle: Assess yourself thoroughly, and realize that you have a right to feel hurt when someone is being mean. Don’t stand for insults or demeaning nicknames. The sooner you speak up, the sooner you can save the relationship or end it for good.
Of course, when they make your hurt feelings your fault, you would feel ashamed and guilty more often. There may not be a rational or logical reason behind these feelings on your part. However, this is just what an abuser wants. The more lowly you think of yourself, the more hold he has on you. Hence, they would also rebuke you on certain things throughout the day, making all your efforts feel worthless.
How to Handle: Tell yourself how other people have appreciated your efforts in the past. If he would listen, tell him how many have depended on you and that you know how capable you are. Then you can decide to give him another chance or show him the door.
Every person has their limits or something they can’t stand. For instance, you may be deathly afraid of dogs, having had a traumatic childhood experience with one. However, he would constantly be on your case about having a pet dog. Not only this, but he would keep springing likely candidates on you when you least expect it. It may seem cute to him, but is immensely triggering for you.
What this means is that he doesn’t respect you enough to keep within the boundaries. If you’ve clearly talked to him about this and it still happens, it may be time to take action.
How to Handle: Unfortunately, there isn’t much hope for someone who deliberately ignores your fears. If you have been clear about what you can take and what you can’t it may be time to cut the cord now.
Using physical intimacy as a weapon is one of the surest sins of an unhealthy relationship. The same goes for emotional needs. If your partner is amazing in bed, but non-communicative otherwise, you may want to think beyond the physical aspect. Whether it’s emotional or physical dryness, you’re not getting some very basic human needs. It’s also not just about having these elements, but also being fulfilled within them.
How to Handle: This sort of situation may be a job for a marriage counselor. It’s usually hard for a couple to work it out on their own. This usually leads to a lot of fights and arguments, so a professional third party may be best. This is also a test or your partner; if he agrees to go for counseling, he’s worth a shot. If he categorically refuses, you may have to rethink your decision of being with him.
Someone who loves you should not feel the need to control your every move. You may find yourself restricted at every turn; whether it’s doing a job, visiting friends, or even going out of the house. All of these are huge warning signs.
How to Handle: If your partner would not listen to reason, you may have to get other people involved. Everyone needs their basic human, freedom, and that includes the right to one’s own money and movement. In case he gets threatening, do not hesitate to call the authorities.
Abusers could be both male and female, as can victims. However, there are more reported cases of a male abusing a female within a romantic relationship. Hence, we have referred to the victim as ‘she’ and the perpetrator as ‘he’ throughout this article. One must remember, though, that abusers could be of any shape, gender, and size. Platonic relationships may also be just as abusive as romantic ones.