When you're in an abusive relationship, it is very easy to get caught up in the cycle of abuse unknowingly, and before you know it, the abuse has spiraled out of control.
The following are some red flags that you may be in an abusive relationship, courtesy of Helpguide.org's domestic violence resources, as well as The Red Flag Campaign, a project of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance which is funded by the Verizon Foundation.
- tells you how to dress or act
- accuses you of flirting or "coming on" to others
- makes vulgar or disparaging comments about others in your presence
- blames arguments and problems on you
- lies to you
- yells at or humiliates you
- threatens to hurt you if you break up with him/her
- calls you names
- constantly checks up on you
- experiences extreme mood swings; says you're the best one minute and rips you apart the next
- doesn't listen to you; things always have to be done his/her way
- blames you for how he/she treats you
(Gee, does this list bring back memories....)
And you, in turn, feel the following:
- afraid to break up with him/her
- tied down, like you have to check in all the time with that person
- afraid to make decisions
- afraid your partner will cut you down
- overwhelming sadness and often depression
- worried and obsessed over how to make your partner happy
- that the abuse is getting worse over time
- overly emotional
- that if you only loved him/her more then the abuse will stop
- embarrassed and ashamed
- trapped and desperate
- confused; one minute you desperately want to break free, and the next minute you think he/she will change enough for the relationship to hang on
A person emotionally abuses their partner in order to strip away their independence and feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. It's an insidious form of abuse, causing deep, long-lasting internal scars. Unless you've been on the receiving end, it's really hard to understand how debilitating emotional and verbal abuse is.
It is important to remember than an abuser CAN control his/her behavior. They choose very carefully when and where to abuse their partner, which often makes the abuse victim feel like they're going crazy. If you're being abused, it is absolutely NOT your fault for being mistreated. Remember that the only thing that you should focus on is being safe. You may not necessarily be safe if you decide to get a restraining order, but it is an option to consider. To learn more about restraining orders in your area, call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).