Identifying Abusive Relationships: A Guide For All
We live in a time where interpersonal abuse is accepted as something that happens, but there remains a disconnect of information on how to recognize the signs and what action to take after you do.
In many cases, people don’t know how to perceive something as abusive because of harmful messages from our media that sell ideas that your partner wanting dominance and control over you is romantic, signs of their love. We see this as the case in the popularity of the highly problematic 50 Shades of Grey franchise.
The sheer pervasiveness of interpersonal abuse requires us to learn how to defend our community and ourselves. One method of defense is bracing oneself with knowledge. What are signs that your partner may become or is abusive? How does a person show signs of being in an abusive relationship?
No one can prevent physical or emotional abuse from happening, and abuse can happen to anyone. This truth should not intimidate you. We are too strong to live in fear. Instead, let’s work together to keep our loved ones and our communities safe on a grassroots level, so we can identify the signs of abuse and help people out of toxic relationships.
Also important to remember is that abuse takes on different forms. It may not always be just physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. Abusers use many tactics of manipulation that are hard to categorize and range in many unfortunate ways.
Signs of An Abusive Partner
- Manipulation and control
This person may decide to make decisions for you that you would normally make for yourself. This looks like choosing who you hang out with, what you wear, or who you speak to on the phone. Another way the exhibit control is forcing or convincing you to have sex when you don’t want to. Often abusive relationships begin with the potential abuser pressuring exclusivity early in the relationship.
Abusers are known to blame others for their problems and actions. If physical violence did occur or the abuser became jealous, which is common, they would blame the innocent partner. While it may seem like “how does that work,” it can be extremely stressful and worrying when someone you love or are just in a relationship burdens you with their emotions. Remember that abusers can be very good manipulators. This blame can keep someone is a abusive relationship by making them believe that their at fault for the abuse and they don’t deserve better treatment.
Making you quit your job or keeping you away from your friends and family is common. The abuser may take this a step further and inspire you to harbor negative feelings about your friends or family. Withholding affection and putting down your self-esteem are isolation tactics used to place blame on the innocent partner for the abusers actions. This also forces you, since you’re so isolated, to rely on the abuser for self-esteem and love.
Abusers will overly emphasize their height and weight, weapons such as guns or knives, or maybe even make jokes about hurting you to instill a fear of being harmed in you. They may also threaten to kill themselves if you leave them, destroy your belongings, or humiliate you in front of others, and at home.
Signs Someone’s In An Abusive Relationship
- They aren’t themselves when they’re with their abuser.
- They are afraid around them and not comfortable because they’re constantly anticipating
verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
- They make excuses and/or take responsibility for their partners’ abusive actions.
Fifty Shades Of Grey comes out ON Valentines Day.
— ☾ hannah (@Hannah70x7) February 6, 2015
How to Leave
This is difficult and will look different for most people. It is important to consider the threat of violence when deciding to leave. If you don’t feel safe, avoid direct confrontations with the abuser like challenging or telling them what you really think of their behavior. I’m not saying to forgo your strength and be submissive, but there is a time and a place for everything. So until you’re safe, tread carefully.
- Reach out
Reach out to whoever you can, preferably someone you trust–friends, family members, family friends, honestly anyone you know who cares about you. The blame for the abuse you suffered through lies with your abuser and no one else. No one else. People you seek for help should understand this and love you regardless.
- Seek help through phone hotlines and local facilities
If you truly don’t know anyone personally that can help you, reach out to hotlines that can help you find community centers, shelters, or other assistance for survivors of interpersonal abuse. Here’s a list of some:
- Action Plans: When You Decide To Leave