“Whose shirt is this? It’s not mine.”
“I don’t know, it’s probably your cousin’s, he is living with us right now. It must have ended up in our laundry by accident.”
“Well, I don’t recognize it.”
While this conversation is seemingly harmless at a glance, it was, in actuality, heavily drenched with accusation. On many occasions, I found myself on the receiving end of an interrogation brought on by my partner’s paranoia.
At first, I was flattered by his jealousy, mistakenly attributing it to his love for me.
When I voiced my concerns or my hurt, he minimized the abuse or twisted it around, blaming me for his bad behavior. In fact, most victims don’t even realize they have been abused because their partner has successfully manipulated them into believing they somehow deserved the treatment or “blew it out of proportion.” I was a victim of the blame game on so many occasions that eventually I lost my voice in my relationship. I had no say in anything that took place, and if I tried to stand up for myself, my concerns would somehow become my fault or were drastically minimized so that it no longer mattered. I stopped caring. I stopped voicing my opinion. I stopped trying to better my situation. And finally, I turned to antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to help me get through a dictated and controlled life. There was a complete lack of communication. Only his voice was ever heard and only his voice was all that mattered.
“F*%# you, you crazy b*%#@!”
I heard this phrase far too often.
I’ve been called just about every name in the book. Name-calling is an example of emotional and verbal abuse. You may ask, why would anyone put up with being called names and subjected to so much abuse? Remember, the act of minimizing and deferring blame, makes the victim feel as though it is either their own fault that they are being abused or that the abuser is being influenced by outside sources (aka, bad day at the office). They blame their victim for being the cause of their outbursts and promise it will never happen again. THIS IS NOT OKAY! Nor is it normal. If you find yourself in this type of situation, you are in an abusive relationship.
Toward the end of my relationship, my younger sister managed to get me away from my house and away from my partner. As we ate lunch, she confessed to me that her ex-boyfriend abused her, verbally and eventually physically. She didn’t realize this until much later because he had convinced her that she was either crazy or too sensitive. But one day, the abuse reached such a climax that she decided she had to leave him or he would destroy her both physically and mentally. She read to me a list, detailing the signs of an abusive relationship. I found that I could relate to 90% of that list. That was a terrifying moment, yet liberating, because it helped me understand the source of my misery and that I needed help.
In fact, most victims don’t even realize they have been abused because their partner has successfully manipulated them into believing they somehow deserved the treatment or “blew it out of proportion.”
A few months after our meeting, I ended that abusive relationship and began the healing process to move on with my life. It’s important to support and educate others so they too can avoid or escape unhealthy relationships.
If you or a loved one are unsure of whether or not you may be involved in an abusive relationship, ask yourself these questions: Do you find yourself in a relationship and yet feel utterly alone? Do you often feel that you have nowhere to turn? Does your partner monopolize or control all of your time? Do you feel as though you have been wronged but can’t pinpoint why, or when you question it, you are made to feel that you are responsible for your current situation? Do you feel that you are blamed for everything, including your partner’s bad behavior? There are many more questions, if you answered yes to any of these, please see this list. You can tally up your points and it gives you a summary of your possible situation based on your final result.
There are red flags that everyone should be aware of in any type of relationship, whether it be intimate, work, or family. The first step to freeing yourself from abuse is to learn the warning signs. Looking back on my relationship with my former partner, I remember circumstances that were huge red flags. But I was young and naïve and never dreamed I would fall victim to something I thought was so easily avoidable. I mean, why not just leave if you’re unhappy, right? Unfortunately, it is never that simple. He would dictate who I could hang out with and who I couldn’t. I was not allowed to have friends that were boys, I couldn’t talk to boys at school, or sit next to any boys. I was an innocent 17-year-old and therefore didn’t know any better. At first, I was flattered by his jealousy, mistakenly attributing it to his love for me. But soon I resented it because his demands were completely one-sided; I could not talk to boys but he continued to hang out and talk with girls. Jealousy and control early on are significant signs that you are in, or will be in an abusive relationship. Guilt trips are also a common way manipulators gain control over their victims. It is not normal for someone to shame you into doing something that you are not comfortable with, or to keep you from being involved in something that is beneficial to your daily life. Under no circumstance is it ever okay for your partner to delegate who you can talk to, where you go, or how often you see your family. Neither is it acceptable for them to keep an obsessive record of your daily activities or ask you to provide details of everything you did. These are indications that they are manipulative and controlling, and this behavior CAN NOT BE CHANGED.
This type of relationship is not healthy. It will eventually wear down the mental state of the victim. The victim will suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. If you are reading this and find that you relate to these circumstances, then you need to seek help. There are many ways to seek help that are confidential, educational, and supportive. If you find that you are in an abusive situation, try some of the links that are included on our Helpful Links page. There are 24/7 hotlines available to help you come up with a plan to get away from your abuser. We desperately urge you to contact someone before it’s too late.
Once you learn the signs of abuse, you can take the next step toward a better tomorrow . . .