You might be telling yourself that you would know if your significant other was abusive. Thing is, abuse or violence can take many forms, like verbal, and tend to escalate pretty slowly and steadily, which is why it often takes a while before you realize it. It can start with small hurtful words or comments that transform into threats and, sadly, sometimes actual physical violence.
So one day, you wake up and realize you’re in an abusive relationship and that your neck-deep in it. I’ve been there, it sucks, it’s hard, you feel super ashamed (you should not) and you feel stupid (you also should not). Depending of the intensity of the abuse, you might also be really scared.
How do you avoid that and escape the relationship before it gets out of hand?
There is no magic or one-size-fits-all solution, but these five pointers might help you figure things out.
- Verbal abuse takes many forms. One that is the most insidious and hurtful in the long run is when your partner puts you down, puts down projects that are important to you or puts down you friends. By making you feel worthless, the other person gains power over you. We’ve all passed unkind remarks on occasions we spoke too quickly or were angry, but if you catch your S.O. doing this often, it should ring a bell.
- Small threats, like ‘’if you don’t do this, then I won’t do that for you’’, are more than super childish, they are also a form of manipulation. Try to stand up for yourself and not fall into the trap of pleasing your S.O. if it means doing something you don’t want to be doing. Forcing someone to do something against their will is a form of abuse.
- This one might be more obvious, but a lot of people dismiss it for plain anger. If your S.O. uses an elevated tone or even screams at you, you should not accept that. We all have screamed at someone out of anger, but if you can't have a grown-up discussions about your relationship with you partner without him/her screaming at you, it is a problem.
- Abusive people tend to blame others for things ranging from super mundane to very serious. By making you feel guilty for no reason, much like when your partner is putting you down, he or she is trying to assert power over you and make you feel bad.
- Finally, if your partner is physically abusive, even if it's just once and in a way that is ‘’not a big deal’’ - Ex: your partner squeezes your arm or pushes you just a little - you should bail or at least make it very clear that you are not going to accept anything of the sort ever again. I think this is the tipping point in an abusive relationship. We tend to minimize these actions out of love when in reality they are unacceptable.