HOW DO I KNOW I’M IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
Abuse is used for one purpose and one purpose alone, to gain and to maintain control over you.
Abusive partners never play fair.
They will use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down until you’re under his or her thumb.
Your abuser can also threaten and hurt you, and those around you.
Abusive behaviour is never acceptable.
You deserve to feel valued, safe, and respected.
You must remember that it is absolutely never your fault that you were placed in this situation.
Abusive partners can be expert manipulators.
Because you’re in an intimate relationship, they know your weaknesses and insecurities, and they have no hesitations in using them against you.
They even make you feel like it’s your fault and that the way they’re treating you is a way to “help” you.
The Cycle of Abuse
- Abuse – The abusive partner lashes out on you with aggressive, belittling, or even violent behaviour. This abuse is intended to show you “who is boss” or who is in control of the relationship.
- Guilt – After abusing you, your partner will let you know he or she feels guilty for how he or she has treated you. Worried about the possibility of being caught or being left, he or she will say he or she feels guilty.
- Excuses – Your abuser rationalises what was done. The person may come up with a string of excuses. It’s common for the abuser to blame you for what happened. The abuser will avoid taking responsibility for it.
- “Normal” Behaviour – Things will go back to normal for a while. He or she will do everything to regain control and to keep you in the relationship by acting nice and sweet. He or she might act as if nothing has happened and up his or her charm. This pseudo-honeymoon phase might give you hope that things will change for the better “this time”.
- Fantasy and planning – Your abuser will begin to fantasise about abusing you again. He or she will spend time thinking and planning about what you’ve done wrong and how you should pay.
- Set up – Your abuser will set you up and will put the plan into action. The person will create a situation wherein he or she can justify abusing you.
This cycle goes on and on, until you get out. It is still abuse even if the physical or emotional abuse seems minor compared to those you read or hear about from the news. There is no “better” or “worse” form of abuse. It’s also still abuse even if it only occurred once or twice. Studies show that your partner will continue to abuse you, if he or she has done it at least once.
Your abuser’s apologies and kindness during the pseudo-honeymoon phase will give you the illusion that there is hope and it will make it difficult for you to leave. Your abuser might also make you believe that you’re the only person who can help him or her, or that things will be different.
Let us warn you that there are real dangers in staying in an abusive relationship.
If presenting this cycle is not enough, here are critical red flags to know for sure that you’re in an abusive relationship.
Your Thoughts and Feelings
- Do you feel afraid of your partner most of the time?
- Do you avoid certain topics because you don’t want to push his/her buttons?
- Do you feel you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- Do you believe you deserve to be hurt or to be mistreated?
- Do you wonder if you’re the one who’s crazy?
- Do you feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Your Partner’s Behaviour
- Does your partner humiliate or yell at you?
- Does your partner criticise and put you down on a regular basis?
- Does your partner treat you badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends and family to see?
- Does you partner ignore or put you down for your opinions and accomplishments?
- Does your partner have unrealistic expectations from you?
- Does your partner get easily insulted or offended?
- Does your partner get cruel with animals or children?
- Does your partner call you ugly names?
- Does your partner have sudden mood swings?
- Does your partner have a past of battering?
- Does your partner blame you for his/her abusive behaviour?
- Does your partner see you as property or a sex object, rather than a person?
- Does your partner act excessively jealous or possessive?
- Does your partner control where you go or what you do?
- Does your partner keep you from seeing your friends or family?
- Does your partner limit your access to money, your phone, or the car?
- Does your partner constantly check up on you?
- Does your partner have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- Does your partner hurt you, threaten to hurt or kill you?
- Does your partner threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- Does your partner threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- Does your partner force you to have sex?
- Does your partner destroy your belongings?
There are many more signs to know if you’re in an abusive relationship.
The most telling sign will be if you have fear of your partner.
If you’re constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up, then chances are that you’re in an abusive relationship.
If you’ve answered more “yes” answers from the list above, then the more likely it is that you’re in one.
There is help out there, reach out and ask.