You'd probably be shocked how many times I start a conversation with a new client that goes something like this: "I think I might be being abused but I don't know for sure. I mean, he's not hitting me." Every time I hear that I cringe because I know she simultaneously wants two opposing things from me. On one hand she wants her pain to be validated and on the other she wants to hear it's perfectly normal and nothing has to change in the relationship.
Let me be clear, I know it's not always men abusing women. In fact I had a family member who was killed by his girlfriend in a domestic violence incident. However, statistics show women are at greater risk.
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I personally have been in a physically abusive, highly volatile and dangerous relationship that I talked myself into believing wasn't abusive because he never actually hit me. He did, however, restrain me, push me down, throw things at me, shake me and threaten to drive the car off the road on several occasions when I was a passenger. In one instance when I was driving, he took the steering wheel and put the car in a ditch. He would stand over me and scream while I cowered or crouched in the corner for what seemed like hours at a time.
As you might imagine, in a situation like that, he was also verbally abusive and threatening, including threatening to kill my pets and my son if I left. Additionally, he made threats that he would "destroy" my friends. He also threatened to kill himself should I end the relationship and on more than one occasion, brandished a weapon to illustrate that point.
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In the end, not only did almost kill me but he nearly made good on his threat to kill my son. The last time I saw him, he was holding us both at gunpoint. All the months I'd tried to "stay in line" to prevent that from happening didn't prevent anything. In fact, things escalated.
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