How to Identify an Abusive Relationship

Abuse occurs in many different types of relationships. Not just those spousal abuse cases, but the everyday friend/loved one abuse as well. It is not okay to ever feel belittled or out of place, especially by those who claim to love you. Those hidden door actions that no one ever speaks up against, especially when we were children. It is not okay to treat someone lower than yourself in any way and here are some ways to identify those around you who might be taking advantage of you:

  1. Guilt or Gaslighting: They might not recognize that they are inflicting this pain on you, but guilt is one of the most powerful weapons in an abusive person’s arsenal. Is everything is your fault? Are all the mistakes are always boiled down to you? “You shouldn’t have made me do that” or “If you weren’t alive none of this would have happened” are extreme examples of using guilt against someone. Even smaller words like, “You are the reason why I am angry” or “you just bring me down.” I have personally had the line, “You are really lame. You don’t do anything fun so I can’t do anything fun.” Even if the intention is poking fun, be it sick and twisted, it is still abuse.
  2. Physical power: They make suggestions like “you know I can snap you in half like a twig” or “if you ever let him/her put your hands around him I will snap his/her neck.” If he/she gives really strong handshakes to a person of the sex you are attracted to, like male to female or female to male, he/she is asserting his/her dominance that he/she owns you.
  3. Ego: He/she might flaunt you around like you are hot stuff, but the minute that someone comes even close to looking at you it is immediate rage – especially if it is pointed at you. Perhaps they will search your phone, look over your shoulder, for people they are not familiar with and question you about it incessantly. They will become jealous that you look nice, especially if you are not spending time with them.
  4. Wrath when you never return your phone calls: I personally have always been attacked if it goes to voicemail: “You didn’t make enough time to talk to me?! How dare you.” They have to know where you are at all times and maintain constant communication, even if you have expressed being busy and unable to answer.
  5. They threaten to hurt themselves if you leave them. This is a biggie. Suicide is no joke, and if you feel that they are in trouble you can contact someone else: a mother, father, brother, sister – anyone at all. This is not your responsibility and it isn’t on you to fix him/her. No one is fixable by yourself. This burden is left to those who are professionals.
  6. He/she tends to live in isolation except for your company. He/she states that no one else is worth his time or that he completely isolates himself form you as well.
  7. They state that you are not going to be as loved with anyone else, or that no one else can understand you like they can. This type of manipulation sticks for many years and will roll around in your head whenever you try to become close to someone else.
  8. They use small jabs at you or put you down. They will use any fuel to keep you by them even if that means making fun of you in public with your friends. They might end the jab with, “but you know I’m kidding” or “you know you love me.” This behavior is unacceptable and shows that they can kick you down and reel you back in. The yo-yo technique is used often by abusers – they will make you feel bad and bring you back with something nice.

According to Aha-now, there are multiple types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse can include things like punching, hitting, pulling hair, kicking to name a few – as sometimes seen in domestic violence.
  • Emotional abuse can be bullying, teasing, and humiliation. Intimidation, threats, putdowns, and betrayals are other forms.
  • Mental abuse shows up in the form of mental harassment, mental torture, blaming, and demeaning ways to put the person under stress, and made to suffer from feelings of intellectual incapability and despondency.
  • Verbal abuse involves the use of foul language and name calling that often leads the person to have low self-esteem.
  • Financial abuse occurs when you aren’t allowed to keep or use your money, nor have any control over money.
  • Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s mainly being forced into any type of sexual relationship that you don’t want.

From Women Are Safe a healthy relationship consists of:

More signs of a healthy relationship, from the Hall Health Center include that you:

  • Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship
  • Maintain and respect each other’s individuality
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family
  • Have activities apart from one another
  • Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences
  • Are able to feel secure and comfortable
  • Allow and encourage other relationships
  • Take interest in one another’s activities
  • Do not worry about violence in the relationship
  • Trust each other and be honest with each other
  • Have the option of privacy
  • Have respect for sexual boundaries
  • Are honest about sexual activity if it is a sexual relationship
  • Accept influence. Relationships are give and take; allowing your partner to influence you is important; this can be especially difficult for some men.
  • Resolve conflict fairly: Fighting is part of even healthy relationships, the difference is how the conflict is handled. Fighting fairly is an important skill you help you have healthier relationships

They go on to say, “healthy relationships should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship.”

It took me a long time to discover what relationships were toxic in my life and I had to cut them out. It is a painful and long process to try to heal from the betrayal you might feel from all the time that they had manipulated and treated you poorly. You might even blame yourself for the behavior that they acted upon you. The most important thing to remember is to stay strong, stay firm, and commit to your decision to cut them out completely.

You are worthy of love, you are worthy of healthy relationships.

There are some relationships that are salvageable if you take the time to discuss why the other party is toxic to your life – they might even make strides to become less toxic. They might not even known they were toxic to begin with. Change comes with time, so give them space to reflect and give yourself time to heal. Some people just manipulate others because they have been abused in their past and don’t know any other way to show affection. That is no excuse to treat you like garbage. They need to get help for their destructive ways, and that is not your job to “fix” them. I have personally been down that road and people don’t change just because you are kind, self-sacrificing or loyal.

“We accept the love that we think we deserve.”- Perks of Being a Wallflower

I understand the fear of leaving an abusive relationship – that thought in the back of your head wondering if he is going to hurt himself, me, or someone I love? It left me scarred and broken for a long time. After years of therapy and treatment for my PTSD, the nightmares are slowly fading away. Recovery is 100% possible if you reach out to those who can help you through it. You are not a burden and always reach out to those who love you if some of these symptoms seem familiar.

Day One Crisis Line: 1-866-223-1111 (call) or 612-399-9995 (text) or Live Chat

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224 or Live Chat

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