Abusive Relationships. Are You In One?

Abuse can take many forms: physical, mental, sexual and emotional. This specific conversation focuses on romantic relationships, and identifying red flags early on, in hopes you can get out for your own safety and sanity.

During the honeymoon stage of a relationship, people tend to brush off warning signs of an abusive partner. We get so caught up in the mix of emotions of a new relationship, red flags can sometimes go unnoticed. Or, they’re noticed, but we formulate excuses or somehow justify their behavior. This is a slippery slope. Yes, we all get moody and grumpy and say things we don’t mean at times. But if you find yourself frequently making excuses for the way your partner treats you, it may be time to take a step back and reevaluate the relationship.

I thought it’d be easiest to write out the remaining discussion in point form. Since I’d love for anyone, if comfortable, to add to it in the comments. I’m not asking for anyone to call anyone out, I’m asking you to share what you’ve experienced or perhaps witnessed, in hopes it can help someone in the future.

Signs you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship:

  • Calling you names, insulting you or continually criticizing you
  • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive
  • Trying to isolate you from family or friends
  • Monitoring where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
  • Demanding to know where you are every minute
  • Trapping you in your home or preventing you from leaving
  • Using weapons to threaten to hurt you
  • Punishing you by withholding affection
  • Threatening to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
  • Damaging your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
  • Humiliating you in any way
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Gaslighting
  • Accusing you of cheating and being often jealous of your outside relationships
  • Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior
  • Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
  • Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc. than you are
  • Attempting to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
  • Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them

Signs you may be in a financially abusive relationship:

  • Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
  • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
  • Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
  • Maxing out credit cards in your name without permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
  • Stealing money from you or your family and friends
  • Using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission
  • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
  • Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
  • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine

And, since living in this social media crazed society, I thought I would add Digital Abuse. Which is defined as: the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.

Signs you may be in a digitally abusive relationship:

  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
  • Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you.
  • Puts you down in their status updates.
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
  • Pressures you to send explicit videos.
  • Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
  • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
  • Tags you unkindly in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
  • Uses any kind of technology (such spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor you

You never deserve to be mistreated, online or off. Remember:

  • Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
  • It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without your partner getting angry.
  • You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as “sexting.”
  • You lose control of any electronic message once your partner receives it. They may forward it, so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.
  • You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
  • Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) require you to change your privacy settings.
  • Be mindful when using check-ins like Facebook Places and foursquare. Letting an abusive partner know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s ok for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.
  • You have the right to feel comfortable and safe in your relationship, even online.

*All information pertaining to identifying abuse was found here: The National Domestic Violence Hotline

It’s easy for people outside of an abusive relationship to question the victims, asking and wondering why they didn’t just leave the relationship. It’s not that simple. And hopefully by reading this article, people will understand, and see the emotional and mental control a victim is under from their abuser. If you know someone who may be experiencing anything like this, reach out to them. If you’re experiencing this right now, know that you are loved; you are valued; you are enough. And when the time is safe, reach out and get help. If you don’t know if you’re in an abusive relationship, click here.

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