Most relationships start off with each person acting their best and seeing the other with rose-colored glasses. After this honeymoon phase, however, you may start to wonder whether the characteristics of your significant other are not quite as great as you initially thought.
The reality of a relationship that has turned abusive is that it was not always that way. If it were, it is unlikely you would have gotten into it in the first place. Most abuse starts gradually and can continue until the abused person feels so trapped, they do not know how to get out.
The best way to not allow yourself to get into an abusive relationship is by knowing the signs to look out for. One or more of these five signs may signify that you might be in an abusive relationship. If you know your relationship is heading down this dangerous road, you should get help to get out of this situation. If you’re not sure if your relationship is abusive or heading down the road to being domestic violence-ridden, you may want to schedule an appointment with a therapist who can help you work through some of these issues.
A Significant Other is Putting You Down
“My mother cooks better than you.” “My ex-boyfriend was better in bed.” “Everything you do turns into a disaster.” In a healthy relationship, both partners will want to lift the other up and make them feel good. However, there are also going to be moments in most relationships where one person may call the other a name while angry and later regret this. That doesn’t make a relationship abusive. Yet, when the name-calling, shame, criticism, and put-downs become a regular occurrence or are constantly disguised as a “joke” that the receiver is not allowed to be upset about, that indicates there may be a problem.
Gaslighting is a Sign of Abuse
“You’re just being over-emotional.” “God, you can’t ever take a joke.” “I never said that. You always put words into my mouth.” Sometimes statements like this may be true, but when they are made to constantly criticize and control you, this may be a sign that you are in an abusive relationship. This type of behavior is used to make the abused doubt their own sanity or question their own motives. It is aimed at taking the focus off the abuser’s behavior and switching the focus onto a negative of the other party, which can cause extreme confusion and uncertainty.
Your Opinion is Always Wrong
Everyone is going to be wrong at times, and every couple is going to have their disagreements. However, if the relationship is imbalanced, this could be a sign you are with an abusive partner. In these situations your partner may believe that it is acceptable to rant and tell you how horrible you are or that you always do everything wrong when you make a mistake. Additionally, they may consider an apology an admission of guilt. Yet, if you express any negative criticism toward or sadness caused by your partner’s actions, suddenly, you are being subjected to a backlash of criticism and put downs about your inability to understand or appreciate your partner.
Feeling Like You Walk on Eggshells is a Sign of Abusive Behavior
Your day can be going perfectly fine. You woke up in a great mood, went to the kitchen and poured yourself a cup of coffee, and started doing some work on your laptop. Then you hear your spouse start to wake up in the bedroom. Your heart immediately starts pounding harder. Your chest tightens with a ping of anxiety. You look around to do a quick check to see if there might be anything out of place that could cause an upset. You hear the door open and you hold your breath. You have no idea whether you are getting the partner you initially fell in love with who is wonderful and caring or whether you’re getting the partner that can shoot you a look to kill that pierces your soul and can go off on a tangent calling you every name in the book for something as simple as the juice is not where it was left in the fridge. This is called walking on eggshells and is a high indication that you are in an abusive relationship.
Extreme Jealousy or Suspicion is an Indicator of an Abusive Relationship
A ping of jealousy is normal within a relationship. You know your spouse is good-looking so whenever anyone checks them out, you might get a little overprotective and dislike this feeling. However, an abuser takes jealousy to a completely other level, and usually not because you actually did something to make them lose trust in you. An abuser will often simply tell you they were cheated on in the past, which has caused them to lose faith in relationships. Of course, because you love them, you are willing to do more to show them they can trust you. You want the passwords to my phone, my laptop, my social media account? No problem. Then this type of behavior will become more controlling. Perhaps you do not get to go out with your friends or your family because you feel as though your partner will get extremely hurt or mad. They start checking your bank account and credit card statements. They track you with a GPS. They make it so you cannot do anything without them without a price to be paid. This is not okay and may signal an abusive relationship.
What to Do If You are in an Abusive Relationship
If you are in a relationship that has these types of tendencies, or you wonder if you might act this way more often than not, you can get help. However, it takes two people to make a relationship work. One person cannot put in all of the effort and, if the abuser is not willing to recognize and change his or her behavior, things cannot change long term.
If you ever feel physically threatened or afraid, call 911 immediately. If you need to talk to someone, you can always call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to their website and chat with an advocate who can help you find support.
If you’re ready to leave an abusive relationship and need legal protection or a plan because you have nowhere to go or you’re afraid for your children, contact us and see if we can assist you. Just know that you are never alone. Call today if you recognize any of these five signs of abuse in your relationship.