Is He Abusive?
If you’ve never been abused, you would assume you’d recognize the signs if you ever ended up in a toxic relationship.
That’s what I assumed before it happened to me. It doesn’t make sense why someone would willingly be with a person who intentionally hurts them, so why do so many women stay in relationships that the rest of the world can clearly see are abusive?
If someone you love physically harms you, the pain is easy to identify and hopefully enough to make you end the relationship after the initial incident. Unfortunately, most abusive relationships don’t begin with a physical attack. Violence isn’t usually used until after the abuser has gained control over their victim.
Abusers court their victims by first developing trust and affection. They are charming and calculating by nature.
They test their power by slowly chipping away at their victim’s self-esteem and testing the limits of their partners. By the time the abuser’s behavior becomes mentally and physically dangerous, they are already too deep in love to recognize the signs of abuse.
Abuse Is Not Always Physical
One of the biggest challenges with domestic violence cases is that the victim doesn’t realize they are being abused until it’s too late.
Not all abusive relationships ever become physical, and verbal or emotional abuse is easy to disguise. Abusive attacks usually only happen sporadically and are strategically mixed in with normal relationship problems. Every couple fights, people say things they don’t mean and sometimes things get out-of-hand when emotions run wild.
The only real difference between hurtful words being used in a heated argument versus verbal abuse is the intent. Unfortunately, the victim normally doesn’t know the reason behind their abuser’s behavior.
Most abusers are skilled manipulators and are able to mask their true intentions. They try to pass off their controlling criticism as being constructive advice out of concern for your wellbeing or the future happiness of the relationship. They act like the abusive behavior comes from love.
How Do You Know When It’s Not Love?
Self-awareness and confidence is essential in recognizing and escaping an abusive relationship, which is why abusers start by attacking your self-esteem. The victim has to know in their gut that they deserve better.
If you’re unsure if it’s typical relationship turmoil or abuse, evaluate how their behavior makes you feel about yourself. Someone you love should never be intentionally trying to make you feel worthless or inferior.
A loving partner doesn’t pick on your insecurities or make you question your own value in this world. If you’re with someone who is constantly pointing out your flaws, or saying things about you that you know to be untrue, it’s verbal abuse and it will only get worse. It’s critical that you have enough self-awareness to recognize the comments are unwarranted and get out before it escalates into something worse.
So remember to look out for the signs, because real love is demonstrated by building someone up, not tearing the other person down.
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By Jenn Sadai