Unfortunately, abuse has been around since the beginning of time and today is no exception. If you’re in a relationship where your partner belittles you, calls you names, swears at you, intimidates, threatens or puts you down, then chances are you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. If your partner hits you in any way (pushes, shoves, slaps, punches, pinches, pulls your hair, etc.), you are in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship.
“Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person.
Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.” http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm
A key sign that you’re in an abusive relationship is the urge to walk on eggshells frequently so as not to “set your partner off.” If you are frequently afraid of the way they will respond to information, how they will handle their anger or what they will do if you upset them in any way, this is likely a toxic and unhealthy relationship. If you’re in a relationship like this, then you likely already know that living with someone you’re afraid to be around is a miserable way to live your life.
People who find themselves in this position often tend to blame and question themselves. They wonder if their partner’s anger is because of something they said or did. They think that if they could just say the right things, do the right things and act in the right way, their partner would be happy and kindhearted to live with. And, more often than not, they do whatever they can to keep their partner calm—even if that means losing themselves, twisting themselves into a pretzel or covering up for their partner’s behavior by putting on a front that the relationship is great.
Below are several facts that are vital for anyone in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship to know. Read these, take them in and start educating yourself on what’s really going on.
1. The verbal and/or physical abuse is NOT your fault. This person will engage in this behavior with any partner s/he is with.
2. It is emotionally abusive to yell, scream, belittle, call someone hurtful names, swear at someone in anger, intimidate, threaten or put someone down in anger or otherwise. If this behavior occurs repeatedly, you are in an abusive relationship. If you are doing this behavior, you are being abusive. If someone in your life is treating you like this, they are being abusive.
3. Emotional or physical abuse is not “normal,” okay, justified or a way of showing love.
4. Domestic Violence (physical abuse by a romantic partner) IS more common with women as the victims…AND men are also victims of domestic violence.
5. Without serious help, abuse—more often than not—escalates. Abuse does NOT get better if left alone.
6. You cannot be good enough, quiet enough or obedient enough to escape the abuser’s wrath.
7. Abusers often isolate their victims and cut them off from their family, friends and even work. If you have cut off ties with loved ones, do not be ashamed to go back to them and ask for their help.
8. Abusers aren’t constantly abusive. Most people who abuse have moments of guilt, remorse and even kindness. They can even have moments of being quite charming.
9. Abusers blame those they abuse—this is standard in abuse. It is not because it is your fault; they blame victims because they don’t want to take responsibility for themselves.
10. You CANNOT “save” an abuser.
11. The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the more difficult it will become to leave it.
12. Women are at the greatest risk of harm when leaving an abusive relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, you will need outside support to help you leave.
13. Women stay in abusive relationships for many reasons and…NO abusive relationship is worth staying for. Get yourself professional help.
14. Only truly unhealthy people are abusive—know that.
Being in an emotionally abusive relationship will chip away at your sense of self, your joy and your health. The best time to leave an abusive relationship is before it ever starts. Know the red flags, have zero tolerance for mean behavior, angry outbursts or threats of any kind. If you’re already involved in an abusive relationship, the best gift you can give yourself is a therapist who specializes in abuse.
Challenge: Know these facts above, ingrain them in your mind and heart, recognize the signs and assign blame where it belongs—with the abuser.
(c) 2014 by guest blogger Lisa Merlo-Booth, MA
Lisa Merlo-Booth is a therapist and relationship coach with more than 20 years' experience working with couples in the US and Europe. She is known for teaching women to effect change in ways that are grounded, respectful and strong. She can be found at www.LisaMerloBooth.com