Abusive relationships take many forms and they all have their individual characteristics but there are common things to look out for. Everyone argues from time to time but when there is a pattern of negative behaviour, there is a chance that the relationship is abusive:
Does your partner regularly criticise you?
Does your partner try to isolate you from your friends and family?
Does your partner control all the finances?
Does your partner truly care about your feelings, can they compromise?
Does your partner act selfishly most of the time?
Does your partner take more than they give?
Is your partner sympathetic and caring when you are upset?
Is your partner kind or are they cold and controlling?
Is your partner regularly jealous?
Does your partner blame you for the problems in the relationship?
The above questions give you an idea of the things to look out for. Abusers tend to be lacking confidence and self esteem and like to control their partners. Domestic abuse can be physical, mental and/or emotional.
Abusers often move in quickly, charm you to gain your trust and the moment you are emotionally hooked, the control begins. It may start of subtly and over time the abuse becomes normalised and you end up forgetting what is normal healthy behaviour in a relationship.
Abusers often engage in gaslighting – they make you doubt your version of reality. They tell you things that aren’t true or make you believe you are going crazy. This form of mental abuse is very powerful. It unsettles the victim and the self doubt allows for more control from the abuser.
How to survive an abusive relationship
Trust your instincts
If you find your relationship emotionally exhausting it’s probably because you keep thinking about things that have happened, trying to make sense of them. It can be impossible to make rational sense of the behaviour of an abuser. They think differently. Their logic is different and their ultimate goal is control. This control helps them to feel powerful and less inadequate. Underneath their bravado abusers are often frightened of being exposed for the loser they are. They brag, they have excessive confidence but behind closed doors they can mean and cruel.
Trust your instincts. Many people who have been abusive relationships admit that they had an inkling something wasn’t right. They stayed because of fear of being alone, they doubted their perceptions and often believed they were making a mountain out of a molehill, and their confidence became so eroded that they became and emotional prisoner to the relationship.
Maintain healthy boundaries
Stand up for yourself if your partner is being unreasonable. You teach others how to treat you so say something when you aren’t happy. Communication is key for a happy relationship. Let your partner know what you will and won’t accept. The more you like yourself, the better you will be at maintaining boundaries.
Speak up, don’t stay silent. Get support from friends and family. There are also many charities that help people in abusive relationships.
Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247 Freephone 24hr National Domestic Violence Helpline
National Male Survivor Helpline: 0808 800 5005 – The National Male Helpline for males living in England and Wales
Abusive relationships are far more common than many think they are. Many incidents go unreported and people hide behind a mask, pretending everything is okay when in fact their home life is hell.
You deserve love and respect, don’t allow someone to treat you badly.