No, really, today’s blog is a bit of a Public Service Announcement. So, if you don’t want a “self-help/awareness” blog stuck in your head all day long, just quit here! This one has been brewing for a while, and I just felt the need to share.
Our topic today is Abusive Relationships. (Also known as, how to open your eyes to see what is happening.)
I have been involved in two extremely dysfuntional/abusive relationships in my life. Mostly, I feel a bit idiotic about those, as I know I am smart enough to read the writing on the wall. Sometimes, though, when you are entrenched, you tend to brush off warning signs, instincts, and even well-meaning friends and family who know something is wrong. I wanted to share some things I have learned along the way, to maybe help some of you (if you need the help, or know someone who does). Keep in mind, abusive relationships are not the sole property of heterosexuals: gay couples deal with this too. We are all human, and subject to the foibles and frailties of relationships. My first experience with these things was over ten years ago, but I did have to repeat my mistake one time (more recently) in order to address the root of the problem and move into a happy, healthy relationship. I thank God every day for where I am now, and the joy and challenges a healthy relationship brings. Although no relationship is without flaws, the abusive relationship has a dynamic that tends to repeatedly pull you down, like an emotional undertow. The following is by no means a comprehensive list, and I am NOT a therapist (just giving some signs as I, and friends who have been through similar, see them).
Some signs of an abusive relationship are:
- isolation: an abusive partner will oftentimes work to isolate you from family, friends, pretty much anyone in your life who is not your abuser.
- violence: your abusive partner may reach the boiling point at the drop of a hat, screaming or insulting you, physically harming you OR things in your home/space (think punching holes in the wall, or throwing things). It’s SCARY when it happens, and seriously most of us don’t react in the best way (My idea of the best way is actually to call 911, but I have never been that clear-headed when under attack).
- blame: it’s your fault your abuser treats you the way s/he does – you are too — dumb, controlling, bitchy — pick an adjective, they are pretty much interchangeable here.
- insult: your abusive partner may humiliate or demean you, for a variety of reasons. You aren’t smart enough, pretty/sexy enough, fast enough, etc. Whatever you are, it is just NOT ENOUGH for this person, and s/he will probably be harping on it (sometimes under the guise of humor, but let’s face it, this stuff just isn’t funny).
- FEAR: If none of the above is resonating for you, but you are SCARED of your partner – chances are you are in an abusive relationship.
So, these are very general (as I won’t get into specifics in order to protect the guilty HAHA – sick humor). But what do you do if these sound like your relationship?
The answer is simple, and painfully difficult: GET AWAY.
No one you love, no one who claims to love you, has the right to hurt you in ANY way: physically, emotionally, mentally.
You get away by breaking out of your isolation — talk to a friend, a family member, a counselor, a minister, a teacher. Silence shields your abuser. DO NOT be silent. Perhaps you feel trapped by your living situation, or your socio-economic situation. Say whatever you need to say, and RUN (to your nearest shelter, to a friend’s couch, just get gone).
Here’s the trick, though. When you are away from this person, you still need help: you need to forgive yourself for what you have allowed to happen. We all make mistakes. Beating yourself up for your own mistakes simply leaves you feeling still vulnerable, and you end up perpetuating your own abuse with negative self-talk.
Your abuser may very well try to paint himself/herself as a victim or a savior: it’s smoke and mirrors. This person is broken in some very fundamental ways. Do not let him or her break you.
Whether you choose Christian or Secular counseling, a good counselor will help you with the nitty gritty details and roots and after-effects of this situation.
Okay, I will get off my soapbox now. I hope this post helps you, or someone you love. Now, I feel the need to go hug and kiss the loves of my life! 🙂
Blessings to you all today, and every day.