I am happy, healthy, confident, and stronger than ever. But over two years ago, I hit rock bottom wondering how I’d gotten there. After sharing my story of an abusive relationship, How One Boy Crushed My Life, I was overwhelmed with touching feedback. Women of all ages and walks of life were thanking me for letting them know that they were not alone, for they too had been in a similar situation. I was shocked, humbled, and reassured that sharing something so personal was the right thing to do. I have learned two things to be very true; 1) never judge someone until you walk a day in their shoes and 2) ALWAYS be kind to others for you never know what battle others are fighting. One in three women will find themselves in an abusive relationship at some point in their life. To help lower that statistic, I want to share some of the warning signs and red flags that could indicate you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.
1. Blame and guilt. An abuser will blame you for all of his or her actions and make you feel guilty for the way you are being treated. Example “I have to yell at you, it’s the only way to get through to you” or “I acted the way I did because what you did made me mad”
2. Teasing. In the beginning of a relationship, teasing may seem cute, fun, and harmless. But gradually the teasing becomes more of a form of humiliation and is extremely hurtful. Teasing is NOT a form of love and can lead to degrading emotional abuse further into the relationship. Teasing can range anywhere from poking your “love handles” to mocking your dreams and aspirations.
3. Isolation. How does your significant other feel about your friends? Does he or she constantly say negative things about them or get angry when you spend time with them? This is how isolation begins. In my last relationship, my boyfriend was very vocal about how much he disliked my friends and got mad when I’d have a girls night. As a result, I would spend all my free time with him and drifted apart from my friends. This gives your abuser more control over you.
4. History. Before you enter into a relationship, ask yourself some questions. How was your partners last relationship? Does he or she has a history of violent, aggressive behavior? Don’t think for a minute that history will not repeat itself. I knew going into my last relationship that my boyfriend had a temper and was a notorious jerk. But I thought, “he’s different with me” because he was at first! Unfortunately, his true colors slowly began to show.
5. Ego. It is important to be confident but when a person is overly confident, this can be a red flag for an abuser. If someone thinks so highly of himself that he is constantly putting down other people, including you and your family, then you are looking at a toxic person. Having an inflated ego in a relationship means there are respect issues and since respect is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship, it is almost impossible to have a happy relationship with this person.
6. Accusations. Your partner is constantly makes baseless accusations of you flirting or cheating. He or she will even get angry at YOU if another person comes on to you.
7. Neglect. Being ignored for days or weeks at a time is a major form of emotional abuse. Odds are if this happens once it WILL happen again.
There are more warning signs but these are the MAJOR ones that I experienced in my relationship. If you recognize any of them, please do not think that you are being “gracious” or kind by giving him multiple second chances. Staying in any form of abuse or mistreatment is rooted in a lack of self-respect. Despite what you may have been told, the truth is that you are valuable, worthy and precious. Love yourself and your eyes will be opened to the kind of treatment that is acceptable to His daughter through His loving eyes. You are worth removing yourself from a devaluing relationship. Do not stay because you are afraid of being alone. Rely and trust wholeheartedly in your God, and lean on your family and friends to strengthen you. “A wife of noble character, who is he who can find her? For her value is worth more than precious jewels.” Proverbs 31:10
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