Women don’t plan to enter into abusive relationships. In fact, many women who’ve escaped swear to themselves that they will know the signs of an abusive relationship and never get into another one, only to find themselves becoming victims of abuse once again.
Sadly, it takes an average of five to seven acts of violence before a woman leaves her abuser. So, why not plan to avoid entering into an abusive relationship in the first place?
It’s easier to avoid one if you’re able to detect the early signs of an abusive relationship.
Below are ways to know you’re in an abusive relationship and how to end it.
Lookout for unhealthy perfectionism; Abusive people often operate with extremely unrealistic expectations. They believe that things should always go in a certain way or conform to their particular standards.
Consider whether the person displays “mood swings” or other signs of emotional disturbance. Everyone has mood swings sometimes, but abusive people often fluctuate between emotional extremes.
Think about whether the person accepts responsibility. Abusive people generally refuse responsibility for their actions whenever possible. They blame others for their feelings and actions.
Think about whether you feel acknowledged. An abusive person will often feel entitled, as though his/her needs and ideas are more important than anyone else’s. Abusive relationships are usually one-sided.
Look for signs of jealousy. Jealousy can seem flattering at first like the other person cares so much about you that he or she can’t bear for anyone else to be interested in you. However, even minor jealousy is a warning sign that future controlling behavior may develop.
Watch how the other person interacts with others. Abusive people are often very self-absorbed. How they treat others can be a good indication of how they will eventually treat you.
Think about how you feel around your partner. If your partner constantly humiliates or hurts you then the relationship is not healthy. If you feel free or bad about yourself when you’re around your partner then you’re in an abusive relationship.
Listen to how your partner speaks to you. Healthy relationships do not involve belittling, humiliation or disrespect. It’s natural for partners to occasionally hurt the other person’s feelings, but this should never be intentional.
Consider whether you feel safe. Even the threat of violence is abuse. Threatening to hurt you or your loved ones if you do not do what they want is a common tactic by abusive people. You should feel safe and stable in your relationship.
Consider whether your sex life feels mutually fulfilling. Abusive people may use coercion, manipulation, or force to get what they want, and this extends to sexual activity. Healthy sexual relationships are consensual and mutual.
Leaving an Abusive Relationship
Know that abuse is never your fault. No matter what you did or didn’t do, you deserve to be treated with dignity and kindness. Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Never sit through an abusive relationship.
2. Confide in someone you trust. It can be difficult and even dangerous to leave an abusive relationship. Don’t go through it alone. Find someone you trust to talk about your concerns with. This could be a friend, relative, counselor or someone from your religious tradition.
3. Contact a domestic violence agency. These agencies can help you even if you don’t have an emergency. They provide trained advocates to listen to you and help you brainstorm about your situation. They can help you figure out how to safely deal with your situation.
4. Cut off your abuser. Abusive people will very often try to get back into your good graces by promising to change. This is part of the cycle of abuse and you should not trust it. Do not interact with the abusive person in any way.
5. Seek professional help. Overcoming the effects of abuse can be incredibly difficult. Abuse can also trigger depression and anxiety. A mental health professional can help you work through the wounds of your abuse.
Strengthen your support network. Surround yourself with people who treat you with love, care, love, and dignity. It will help you recognize that you deserve to be treated better.
Make friends. It’s common for people in abusive relationships to feel isolated from their friends and family. Making new friends can help you feel stronger and more confident.
Join a club or group. Associating with like-minded people or people with similar interests to yours can help you feel like you’re part of a larger community.
Be open with people you trust. Some people may judge you, and this is wrong and unfair. However, many people are happy to simply be there for you. Talking about your experiences with people you trust can help you process and move on from them.
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