Am I in an abusive relationship?
This is not an easy or enjoyable topic. I agree. But October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I couldn’t let it pass by without talking about such an important issue. When you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s easy to feel confused and alone. Are you wondering if what is happening in your relationship considered abusive? Or, you don’t believe it’s abusive but you know that something just isn’t right?
First, abuse can be physical, emotional, and / or verbal. All three may occur together, or just one of these alone. It may start early in the relationship or can be a gradual build-up of escalated arguments growing in frequency and intensity. Sometimes it starts with verbal and later becomes physical.
What are the signs of an abusive relationship?
- Physical Abuse – pushing, pulling, shoving, slapping, punching, hitting with hands or objects, strangling, sexual aggressiveness or assault
- Verbal Abuse – putting you down, humiliating you in front of others, name calling
- Emotional Abuse – threatening to hurt you, to leave you, threatening to hurt themselves or others, dismiss you or laugh when you cry or become emotional, blame you for their behavior or other things going wrong, use manipulation
- Your partner is easily jealous
- Isolates you from friends and family
- Wants to control what you wear, where you go, or with money
Common reactions you may be feeling:
- You stop to argue or stand up for yourself. You do so out of fear, to keep the situation from escalating, or because it takes too much energy and you just want it to stop.
- You begin to ignore, dismiss, or push your own emotions away.
- You begin to doubt yourself and your own judgment.
- You start to question if you’re the one that’s wrong or causing the problem.
- You try so hard to be attentive, understanding, listen, and empathize with your partner but don’t feel you’re getting it in return.
- You feel depressed and confused. You don’t want to do anything or face others.
- Don’t feel like yourself anymore and have lost your self-confidence.
Why does it happen?
There could be many reasons a person becomes abusive towards another such as witnessing their own parents abusive relationship with each other or they are a victim of abuse themselves. Often its because of one’s fears and insecurities. Someone who feels they’re not good enough will fear losing their partner because of what they believe they’re lacking. If they lose their partner than what he or she believes is more true in their mind.
This underlying fear creates jealousy, a need for attention, and a constant reassurance. He or she needs to know what their partner is doing. Who are they with? Are they cheating? Some will become jealous of family members or friends because they feel they are losing your attention. If you express your frustrations or anger, your partner may often take it personally and become defensive. Again, they believe you’re saying they’re not worthy. Sometimes project his or her feelings on to you and make you feel you’re not worthy.
Of course, this pattern leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. One’s insecurities creates a need for control but causes stress, fear, anger, and resentment in their partner. After some time, the partner has had enough and ends the relationship, reinforcing their very fear.
It’s common that you experience a pattern of escalation followed by apologies, promises to change, compliments, or gifts. This is call the Honeymoon phase. It occurs in the beginning of a relationship and after each intense argument. This is where it becomes confusing. It may also help to answer the question you’re may already be asking yourself. “Why do I go back?” The Honeymoon phase is often brief before tension rises again and pretty soon, escalation occurs without any Honeymoon phase at all.
How can I get help?
It’s important to know that you are not alone. An abusive relationship does not discriminate. No matter your race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, or level of education. It happens to the best of us. Family and friends are great resources that can help you talk it through and provide support. A counselor can also help you with more information on domestic violence, resources, or making a plan.
Here is a list of resources local to San Diego and National resources for you that will provide more information. They provide tips on a safety plan and suggested places to go including undisclosed shelters. Please consider researching this information on someone else’s devices if your partner is one to check your internet history, phone, etc. Maybe devices of a family member, friend, or at a public library. These phone numbers are 24 hours.
Community Resource Center (760) 753-1156
Your local police department or if life threatening, 911
If you are still not sure if this is what is occurring in your relationship and need some guidance, please contact me.