Warning Signs: Is It An Abusive Relationship?
Hint: The Signs are more Subtle then you Think
People often think that abuse is only limited to physical harm. But that is not the case, because abusive behavior can take many different forms like verbal, emotional, psychological, economic, and technological. Abuse not always being physical might make it difficult to detect, especially if you’re in the relationship yourself. Nearly 50% of women have experienced some form of verbal and emotional abuse from their partner at least once in their lifetime. This shows the necessity to understand signs of abuse then reach out for help as well as escape the peril of abuse.
Abuse transcends the confines of romantic relations. In its many forms, it can happen in platonic, professional, religious, and even friendship relationships. A victim of abuse may be subjected to multiple offenses like being hit, kicked, abusive and demeaning language, and denied access to money for a given amount of time. The sad reality is that in most instances the victim is unaware that their partner’s actions are abusive. Due to this reason, many cases of abuse go unreported and this continues to stagnate efforts to end gender-based violence.
Another interesting fact is that most abusers at the onset of the relationship do not exhibit any signs of abusive or aggressive behaviors. Because if they did, then I guess no one would want to be with them. Instead, they come off as caring, charming, and deeply in love with the victim. These are the qualities that attract the victim. As the relationship progresses and both parties become comfortable with one another, the abuser allows their masks to peel off and they start showing their true colors.
Abuse can happen to both men and women. But the numbers are high for women. Worldwide, almost one-third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
The journey to a safer, healthier, and happier life often starts with knowledge of abusive relationships.
Here are some 5 red flags of an abusive relationship.
1: Coercive Control
“Nearly 86 % of those in abusive relationships experience some form of coercive control. However, these numbers don’t represent the millions of individuals suffering in silence…”
This is defined as instilling fear and compliance in a partner by making physical and non-physical threats. This type of mistreatment follows regular patterns of behavior and the victim is in most cases not aware. This could involve the partner coercing the other to engage in something that is against their will. For example, a man can force the woman into having sex with them. If she refuses, he threatens to reveal her secrets or to end the relationship. It could also involve constantly check up on the whereabouts of the other and even showing up at their place of work unannounced. All this control is often subtle, and the abuser knows very well their mission.
A recent study found that 86 % of those in abusive relationships experience some form of coercive control. However, these numbers don’t represent the millions of individuals suffering in silence or plain ignorance.
2: Fear of your Partner
How do you feel when you are around your partner? Do you feel safe and comfortable or stressed, anxious, and afraid? Are you ok showing your true self around them? Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, hoping to avoid the next blow-up? Do you avoid certain discussions so that you don’t set them off? Are you afraid to talk to friends or family about your relationship because of what your partner might do if they found out? Are you afraid of making a mistake and being punished? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you’re in an unhealthy and abusive relationship.
If you can’t be your true self around your partner because they may not like it then it is high time you evaluated your relationship and made a decision that serves you best. A healthy relationship allows both people involved to show their true selves without fear of judgment.
3: Physical Aggression
The abuser might physically harm their partner in a spectrum of ways, kicking, biting, hitting, punching, or throwing objects at them. These shameless acts leave victims with nasty bruises and severe injuries that may involve being admitted to the hospital. In many cases, physical abuse goes beyond kicks and punches.
There may be actions like a severe lack of patience, intentional reckless driving, locking the other out for the home, denying a person access to their medication or essential documents, or throwing a fit.
“Gaslighting has far-reaching consequences in the life of the victim. Their everyday life gets affected because they are not able to make any decisions without consulting the abuser.”
Gaslighting involves the abuser minimizing their actions and playing the blame game. Also, they pretend to forget any wrong they did. This behavior makes the victim question their sanity or the reality of the world around them. It also makes the victim question their self-value and wonder whether they are just overreacting.
Further, because of the fear of the abuser, the victim might start believing what the abuser says which leads to them losing their rationality, independence, and voice. You will find that a person who was previously confident will start having low self-esteem. They will start avoiding socializing with others as they used to do and prefer keeping to themselves.
Gaslighting has far-reaching consequences in the life of the victim. Their everyday life gets affected because they are not able to make any decisions without consulting the abuser.
5: Isolation from Family and Friends
An abuser’s main objective is to keep the victim under their spell.
They are aware that if the victim tells their family and friends about the abuse, their behavior will be out of the basket and the victim might be helped to leave them. So, they will try all means to break any support network the victim might have. Starting from family, friends, and workmates. Therefore, the victim will have no one to run to and so will continue staying with them.
“No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. We are all worthy of healthy relationships.”
Abusive relationships are complex and often we might miss the subtle markers for abuse in our relationship. We have a responsibility to intentionally educate ourselves of both abusive and healthy relationships then decide of which one we want.
Start your journey with the Karmascore app that is designed to help you build healthier, stronger, and more engaging relationships! Using the app, you can create a checklist of what is acceptable and not acceptable as well as what fulfills you rather than bleeds you. This will guide you to loving, responsible, accountable, and thriving relations.
No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. We are all worthy of healthy relationships.
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Written by Edith Mecha, Social Media Manager of Karmascore