Ever wondered if you are in an abusive relationship? Then, you need to read this!
When you’re in a relationship, it can sometimes be difficult to know if it is abusive or not. All couples argue right? So, when does it tip over into an abusive relationship? If you find yourself asking, am I in abusive relationship?, then you probably have a feeling deep down that things aren’t quite right. You may find your partner or spouse loving and affectionate one minute and then suddenly they turn into a mean, abusive person. This can leave you feeling confused and unsure of whether you are really in abusive relationship.
In this blog, I’ll be discussing three signs that may indicate that you are in an abusive relationship.
Do you feel like your partner or spouse is controlling you? It may only be one specific area or every aspect of your life. Control can be so subtle and develop so gradually that you may not even realise it’s happening. They may have started out being the kind, caring and loving person we all seek, but then very subtly their behaviour starts to change without you even being aware of it.
Control can take many forms such as:
What you wear: Only allowing you to wear certain outfits or not allowing you to wear certain clothing.
Gatekeeping who you may see or speak to: This is a form of isolation as well, but they may want to avoid you speak to anyone who may try to get you to leave.
Digital control: Not allowing you access to a phone, the internet or social media. They may also spy on you by accessing your phone or social media accounts.
Making all the decision: They make every decision about you and your relationship without every consulting you or taking your feelings into account.
Controlling your finances: They may take your income and/or limit the amount of money you have access to. In extreme circumstances, they may not allow you to even work.
The Financial Conduct Authority estimate that one in five women experienced some form of financial abuse in the UK.
These controlling behaviours can also make it very difficult for you to seek help. By isolating you and controlling who you have contact with, the abuser can make it very difficult for you to speak to someone about what’s going on.
An abusive relationship can be a real emotional rollercoaster. You are a loving, happy couple one day and the next you are left feeling completely worthless and put down. They will shower you with love, affection, gifts one moment and the next they turn nasty. Abusers are master manipulators and gaslighters, leaving you unsure of what to expect so you end up living in a state of constant anxiety.
Gaslighting: “Someone abusing you may deny that specific events, arguments, or agreements ever happened.”
This unpredictability can take the form of:
Nicknames and name-calling: They may have some really affectionate nicknames for you, but some may be derogatory one veiled as terms of endearment, such as ‘my ugly duckling’
Patronisation: Like above, they may appear supportive of you and what you do in life, but actually they are patronising you by saying things like ‘At least you tried, but you know it will never be a success’
Dismissiveness: Sometimes they may agree and support you, especially in front of others, but they might equally dismiss your views or suggestions in private.
If you feel like your head is spinning and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, then it is likely that your partner or spouse is using these tactics to control you.
Has your partner or spouse ever uttered the words ‘You made me do it’? This is a classic sign that they are trying to make you feel responsible for what is happening in your relationship. You will end up feeling like nothing you ever do is right and worry that you will set them off at any moment.
Ways in which they may accuse or blame you are:
Using guilt: If they shower you with gifts or pay for the majority of bills and outings etc. they may say something like ‘You need to do this for me, because I take care of you’.
Finding fault in anything you say or do: Do they constantly criticise you and fly off the handle when you say or do something? Making you feel responsible for their behaviour is a classic way of exerting control over you.
Denying the abuse: If you have ever tried to call out the abusive behaviour or confront them about it, they will completely deny it - waving it away with their hand and make you feel guilty for even bringing it up.
Deep down abusers may know that what they are doing is wrong, and so by passing the blame to you, they are able to justify their behaviour and absolve themselves of all responsibility.
The above examples are only some examples of being in abusive relationships. There are many more that you can read about on the Healthline website.
While it is incredibly hard to admit that you are in abusive relationship, it is the first step in being able to take proactive steps to protect yourself and leave. Once you are able to understand what is going on, and know that you are NOT to blame for your partner or spouse's behaviour, you will feel more confident in standing up for yourself and leaving.
Please know that there is always help. When it is safe to do so, speak to a trusted friend or professional and let them know what’s going on. They will be able to help you to come up with a safety plan while you are still in the relationship and this will include a way to leave. See the list of resources and organisations below who will be able to help you.
Lastly, I know how hard it can be to speak about this with friends and family. Having a person who is completely removed and objective, may be a great step forward in re-establishing your identity and creating a new life. Leaving an abusive relationship is the first step, but it is important to understand why you may always find yourself in abusive relationships and how to avoid ending up in another one. All this starts with improving your self-worth, confidence and feeling empowered.
I have a fantastically supportive group of women who are or have been in the same position as you find yourself in right now. If you’re not already a member, I invite you to join my FREE Facebook Community 30+ Positively Starting Over.
You may also find my Improve Your Life in 7 Days journaling challenge helpful and when you sign up you will also receive my bonus 10 Steps to Starting Over guide to help you really keep the momentum of starting over.
As always, please know that I am here for you, whether it’s a virtual coffee to talk through what’s going on, or whether you need more intensive support to move on from being in abusive relationship, you can schedule a complimentary, no obligation call with me.
The Empowerment Coach for women who want to transform their lives, become unstoppable and conquer the fears that have been holding you back from truly living YOUR BEST life.
Organisations that can help you if you are in abusive relationship
Womens Aid: We work to ensure women are believed, know abuse is not their fault and that their experiences have been understood.
National Aid Helpline: As a woman fleeing domestic abuse, you may want to access specialist refuge accommodation. The Helpline can help you find a refuge vacancy for you and your children; call us for more information.
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health: This website provides links to national and state organizations who provide support to victims of domestic violence.
Office on Women’s Health: Provides help and resources for victims of domestic abuse and allows you to search for organizations by state.
Emotional Justice: We support individuals removing themselves from abusive situations through carrying part of the burden of legal fees giving our beneficiaries the freedom and support to pursue their own healing, while rebuilding their lives.