You’re in love, over the moon with happiness. You’ve been together with your boyfriend for a while now, and you’re convinced he’s the one. Then suddenly, on a bright sunny day, as you affectionately make fun at his unmanageable beard, he strikes you.
You’re shocked, you’re thinking: “My boyfriend hit me! Maybe it was an accident, maybe it was a one time thing.” He would never intentionally hurt you, would he? But as he looms over you, you realize that maybe it wasn’t an accident.
Has this ever happened to you? If it has, you need to know a few things
- It was never your fault, nothing you did justifies his actions. He is the sole person responsible for his own behavior. You may be sitting here telling yourself that what you did was the exception to this rule, that you had it coming. Maybe you laughed too hard at some else’s joke or you didn’t listen closely enough to what your partner was saying. Either way, you did not have it coming. I can never repeat it enough times; you do not deserve to be treated like that.
- Doing nothing changes nothing. Leaving this problem alone and refusing to confront it directly will only make things worse. You have to remember that your relationship wasn’t always like this. His behavior slowly built to a point where he started hitting you, and as it slowly built to this monstrosity, it will continue to build to even worse prospects. This issue will not disappear on its own.
- If you have children, then rest assured that although he may be hitting only you at the moment, and you can live with your own abuse, he will move on to your children. The longer this relationship continues, the greater at risk you and your children become.
- We have to remember that an abusive relationship can also be between two women, two men, or two friends. Also remember, women can be abusers as well. It can also be a predatory relationship, which is usually found between teenagers and older men. Wherein runaway teens are found by older men and forced into prostitution.
There is this term Leslie Morgan Steiner coined, and it’s called crazy love. Crazy love is when we love someone so much, that we make constant excuses for them. We see them as deeply troubled and in need of help. We view ourselves as their only saviors and that we have to stay in order to help them.
In regard to this, I would say helping someone is fine, but you don’t have to be with them in order to help them. In fact, if you’re not a therapist you really can’t help them, they need professional help. If you are a therapist, then you know you can’t treat people you already know, due to emotional proximity.
There is no reason for you to remain with this person. There are people out there that can help these abusers. That is what they are, abusers.
Acknowledging that you’re in an abusive relationship can be difficult. My general rule of thumb is, if you’re unsure as to whether you’re in an abusive relationship, then you probably are in one. We are going to go through a check list of the possible signs that you are in an abusive relationship, the more points you check of, the worse the situation is.
1. Does he hit you?
This can be constant shoving, slapping or punching. It can be frequent or sparse. Do you find yourself trying to explain his behavior to other people? Do you find yourself covering up your bruises with make up or lying to your friends as to how you got those bruises?
2. Does he make you fear for your life?
Does he constantly threaten you? Does he physically beat you or threatens to beat you? Does he use fear to control you? Do you constantly feel afraid in your own home? Do you dread going home?
3. Does he make you constantly feel on edge?
Do you have to tip toe around him? Are you constantly worried about what will set him off? Are you worried that he can or will lash out at any time? Are you uncomfortable around him? Do you feel like you can’t predict his behavior?
4. Has he isolated you?
Does he disapprove of your friends? Is he constantly trying to stop you from going out with your friends? Does he want you to stop seeing them? He doesn’t like your family and over time you’ve stopped talking to them? Have you realized that your circle of friends is shrinking?
Or have you realized that you and your partner now have the same circle of friends and that any secrets you share with them are then told to your partner? Have you suddenly moved away and have no friends and family where you’re living now? Have you had to give up your job?
5. Does he control what you wear?
Does he dictate what you should wear or how long your dresses should be? Does he tell you how much makeup to wear? Do you have any free choice concerning your appearance? Does he lash out when you wear what you feel comfortable wearing?
6. Does he put you down?
Does he constantly make you feel worthless? Does he tell you how you won’t amount to anything? Doesn’t support you in the things you seek to achieve? Does he constantly tell you how no one will love you, how you will always be alone?
7. Does he threaten you emotionally?
Does he tell you to do things to show him you love him? Does he tell you that he hurts you because he loves you? When hits you, does he say it’s for your own good? Does he constantly make you doubt your own self-worth?
8. Are you afraid to say no to him?
Do you feel like you can’t voice your opinion? Do you feel that you’re simply not being heard? Do you constantly say yes just to please him? Is he constantly getting his way? Does he force you to have s*x even though you say no (this would be considered rape)?
Here are some more signs that would indicate that you may be in a domestically abusive relationship.
The most important thing to do is to break through the haze that surrounds this relationship. You have to look at this check list and honestly see which boxes have been checked. If you do check multiple boxes and you’re still not convinced that you’re in a domestically violent relationship, then you need to sit yourself down and say it out loud.
I want you to say, “I am being domestically abused and I need to leave him/her.” I know that you don’t believe what you’re saying, but keep saying it until you believe it.
If you’re still not convinced that you’re experiencing domestic violence, then I would suggest you call up your local domestic violence hotline or the local women’s shelter and see if they think you’re experiencing domestic violence.
What if he does all these things or most of them but he apologizes and promises that he won’t do it again?
Exactly how many times has he apologized? Is this the first time, the second, the fourth, the tenth, the twentieth? Be honest now, how many times has he apologized? Say it out loud to yourself.
My advice regarding this is very simple and can be applied in a multitude of ways. Words mean nothing, I don’t care what people have to say, anyone can say anything. All I truly care about is what people do, the saying “actions speak louder than words” has never been so true, particularly in this situation.
After he has apologized does he still make you feel afraid, does he still control you and blame you for his outbursts. Do you feel safe? If not, then rest assured that his apologies are empty and that the abuse will start again, it may not be today but it will be tomorrow.
When you’re in an abusive relationship and the thing that’s stopping you is all the wonderful memories you’ve had with them, then I only have one thing to say: don’t focus on the good, focus only on the bad. If you don’t like or you don’t want to deal with the worst that person has to offer, then the good memories are not worth it.
I am being domestically abused, how do I get out?
This is a tricky process as any domestically abused person may know. The reason many don’t leave, even though they want to, is because they are afraid and because it’s dangerous. Here are some steps you should take.
1. Talk about it
You are not alone, far from it in fact, 1 in 3 women have been or will be domestically assaulted, and here are some more stats about domestic abuse.
By talking about it you are letting people know what’s happening. He now can’t hide behind the shroud of secrecy.
But what if I don’t have anyone to tell?
It’s simple, tell your neighbors. Tell your friends, even if you’re not friends any more, call them and tell them. Call your family, even if you’re not close any more. Tell the checkout kid at your local grocery store, or the mail man. Tell everyone. When you are truly comfortable, tell the police.
Ask them for their advice; find out the steps that you can take to carve out a peaceful and safe existence. If you’re uncomfortable telling the police, then call a domestic abuse hotline or a women’s shelter and tell them. Get their advice and they will help you figure out the next couple of steps.
2. Make an exit plan
It’s not safe for you to up and leave. You need an exit plan. After you’ve told someone, pick a few people that you trust and keep them informed of what’s happening. Use code words that inform them that you need to be evacuated.
If you’re in the process of making an exit plan and he hurts you before you’re able to leave, be sure to keep evidence of what occurred, such as photos of bruises.
Keep your car fueled and unlocked, be sure your car is the last one on the driveway, also hide the spare keys. This will aid in a quick getaway. If you don’t have a car, keep the bus or train schedules at hand and hide some extra money for the tickets.
Try to set aside some money, if you can’t do this on your own try and have trusted family or friends loan you some money.
Hide a bag filled with clothes, any medication, money, important papers (license, passport etc.), at a trusted friends house. This will ensure that he doesn’t find the bag and disrupt your plans.
Make note of his schedule and when the safest time for you to leave would be. For instance, if it’s up to you to pick up the children from school, then use that time to pick them up and leave. Or if he works away from home then use that time to make your getaway.
If you have children, then inform them of the basics of your plan. Don’t tell them any specifics, especially if they are too young, as they may give your exit plan away.
Here is a link that you can use to help you make your exit plan. Be sure to erase your history.
How to avoid potentially abusive relationships
The best thing to do is to pay attention to the signs and to catch them early, that way it is easier to leave as you are still surrounded by your friends and still have your financial independence.
I tend to use a red flag system when I meet new people. It works like this, I constantly observe the person I’ve just met, I see if they do something that’s somewhat off or matches one of the mentioned criteria or starts demanding things from you and starts making you feel bad about yourself.
The idea is to take notice of repetitive behavior; there is nothing wrong if someone says something that hurts your feelings, if it only happens once. The problem lies with whether they do it constantly. So you place a red flag on every occasion that makes you feel off or that matches the criteria.
I tend to get suspicious after 2 of the same flags pop up and the person made me feel bad about myself twice in a short period of time. I get suspicious if they have 3 different flags, or they have a single flag against them for 3 different matches on the criteria.
For example, I used to work as a receptionist, one day as I walked past my boss I felt his hand touch my bum, he apologized and I said it was alright, but I made note of the event with a flag. If it happened again I would leave that job. Thankfully, I worked there for another 4 years without another incident.
On another occasion I was dating a guy and I marked 3 separate flags for 3 items on the criteria. My response was to up and leave, better to leave now and have my heart broken than become a statistic. I never spoke to him again.
By having such a small threshold for these things, I mean not waiting around for the 2nd or 4th flag; you create a safe environment for yourself and you get out of a potentially adverse situation pretty early on.
As I tend to respond to these flags by simply cutting that person out of my life, you have to be brutal too with these things in order to be safe and happy. Yes, maybe you are letting a good one go by using this method, but do you really want to risk it, as this is a dangerous world.
Comment below and tell us your story, and maybe inspire someone that wants to get away. You can also offer up some of your own advice.