Sometimes, it’s not even physically evident that you are in an abusive relationship. More often than usual the abuse is emotional, whilst it can also be physical, sexual, or when your partner tries to control your behavior. The one abused, is made to believe that they somehow deserve the inhumane behavior. It is important to understand that you’re never to blame for any of the cruel ways an abusive person decides to treat you.
Content Warning: This article discusses abuse that may be triggering for some people. If you are currently in an abusive relationship and feel distressed, then please reach out to trusted family or friends or take the help of a professional.
Sometimes, it’s not even physically evident that you are in an abusive relationship. More often than usual the abuse is emotional, whilst it can also be physical, sexual, or when your partner tries to control your behavior. The abuser ensures that the person abused truly believes that they deserve the inhumane behavior.
It is important to understand that you’re never to blame for any of the cruel ways an abusive person decides to treat you.
What is Abuse in a Relationship?
Essentially abuse is when someone causes distress or harm in any way to another person. Abuse can range from being disrespectful to causing physical and mental pain. It may occur in personal, professional, or public spaces and the people who commit abuse are often taking advantage of the relationship and/or the person.
Relationship Abuse can be described as a pattern of abusive and strongarm behaviors used to gain control or maintain power over an individual in the relationship. Abuse in a relationship can include threats, humiliation, intimidation, force, and isolation which may be emotional, physical, sexual, or financial. Abuse tends to escalate become severe over time because the person who commits abuse against their partner is always following the larger pattern of control.
Signs of Abuse in A Relationship
The key to knowing if you are in an abusive relationship is asking yourself if you are being violated in any way. There is no better judge of character than yourself. You will always know at heart if whatever you are subjected to by your partner isn’t right.
Here are some key signs to look for in a relationship that might be abusive:
1. Possessive and controlling behavior
Such behaviors come from an abusive partner’s insecurities. When they feel insecure about themselves, they will try to shame your inadequacies and control your behavior to set the hierarchy in the relationship and a path to power.
Tools of possessive and controlling abuse include:
- Digital spying – Stalking on social media and keeping a close eye on your social media activity
- Financial control – Hiding or controlling all the money matters and bank accounts and taking financial decisions without your opinion.
- Unilateral decision-making – Not giving importance to your opinion in any matter and taking decisions as they like all the time.
- Monitoring your whereabouts – Constantly keeping a close check on your movement in and out of the house.
- Treating you like a child – Not considering you as an equal in the relationship rather treating you like you don’t know anything.
- Directing orders – Giving you orders to do things and not taking into consideration your feelings and opinions.
- Sudden outbursts – Out of nowhere they start criticizing you for things and have an emotional outburst.
- Accusing you of cheating – Having serious trust issues and accusing you of cheating when you have done nothing.
2. Humiliation and negation
Behaviors and words involving humiliation and negation are meant to undermine and hurt your self-esteem. The aim is to make you feel less about yourself. The abuse is harsh and the abuser aims to belittle you and your personality in every big and small way.
It may look like the following:
- Character assassination – Disrespecting your character and questioning it, again and again, to make you feel less about yourself.
- Name-calling – Calling you with disrespectful names and slang pinpointing your insecurities and vulnerabilities.
- Public embarrassment – Intentionally embarrass you in public through “joking” or mistreating you.
- Yelling – Raising their voice at you on numerous occasions for the most random reasons.
- Put-downs – Telling you that whatever you are doing is silly and not worthy. Whatever you do doesn’t seem impressive or important to them.
- Insults – Disgracing and passing negative comments on your appearance and skills.
- Patronizing – Belittling your accomplishments and personality and telling you that you can not do anything.
- Sarcasm – It is often used as a dig in disguise. When you object, they blame it on you for not understanding the comment and taking it negatively.
3. Threats and Isolation
The abuser tends to place themselves and their feelings ahead of you and your feelings always. They will do all they can to beneath you and keep you dependent on them. The scheme is to push you back into a corner so that you feel intimidated and alone.
A few of the tactic abusers use to threat and isolate includes:
- Shutting down communication – They ignore all attempts of communication from your end to torture you emotionally.
- Keeping you from your social life – Indirectly influencing you to cancel all your social plans or creating distractions so that you cancel the plan one way or the other.
- Demanding respect – Whenever you try to keep your point, they bring in their “respect”. All they ever do is taunt you for not respecting them.
- Turn others against you – They talk ill about you in front of your friends, family, or colleagues
- Trivializing – Accusing you of over-thinking and over-reacting whenever you try to talk about your feelings.
- Destroying things – They break, hide, destruct, or destroy things that belong to you or are close to your heart.
- Blaming – Blaming you for whatever is wrong in their life and your relationship with them and they never take responsibility for their actions.
- Accusing you of abuse – Reversing the game and accusing you of being an abuser.
- Verbal threats – Verbally threatening you or your close relatives.
4. Physical and sexual violence
The intent to harm someone physically and/or sexually comes from the place of mental illness. People who are violent with their partners are troubled individuals. They are often people who you cannot and should not trust. Some have severe self-control and anger issues that are then projected onto their partners in the worst way possible.
You may be in a physical and sexual abuse relationship if it includes:
- Physical violence – Hurting you in ways that involve physical touch and pain.
- Force you to leave home – Dragging or pushing you to move out of the home
- Trap you inside – Keeping you trapped inside without allowing any external contact with your friends and family.
- Hurt or threaten someone you care about – To threaten you, they cause harm to your relatives
- Physical force in a sexual situation – Applying force and aggressive behavior when you share an intimate moment.
- Demanding sex without your consent – Forcing their sexual desires on you even when you don’t want to or are not in the position to comply.
- Ignored your feelings during sex – Behaving like an animal and ignoring your feelings during sex.
- Rigid gender roles – Believe in strict gender roles and negate every opinion that suggests otherwise.
What To Do To Get Out Of An Abusive Relationship
If you think you are being physically or mentally abused, then trust your inner voice. First and foremost, accept that this isn’t your fault and you don’t deserve to live like this. Secondly, talk to someone you trust that you are being abused in your relationship. And look for services you can connect with for shelter and safety. If you fear aggressive physical behavior from your partner then immediately call your local emergency services.
Otherwise, you can do the following:
- Set very clear and strict boundaries
- Disengage with the person permanently
- Give yourself time to heal
- Accept that abuse is not your responsibility
- Talk to a therapist about your mental health
Exiting a toxic and abusive relationship is tough. It can become even tougher especially when you are married or have children involved. But remember that trying to reason with your abuser will not do any good because they will probably end up in the same abusive pattern.
It is better to save your life and think about your future as well.
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