Get out now!
Abusive relationships can be physical, emotional, or both. They're very difficult to get out of, often because the abuser has controlled and brainwashed the victim to feel powerless.
Abusive relationships don't always mean a man abusing a woman. There are plenty of unstable and abusive women out there, as well. Abusive girlfriends and wives are underreported because some of the male victims are too ashamed to report it.
Please don't believe that you are not being abused just because your abuser has never hit you. Insulting you, constantly finding fault with you, and correcting you in public or private are all abusive behaviors designed to destroy your self-confidence and maintain control over you. You don't know that it won't escalate into physical violence.
Many victims think nobody will believe they're being abused because in public the abuser is sweet and charming. However, the police, a doctor, or a counselor will believe you because they see it all the time.
The most important thing to remember is that it's not your fault. Abusers are expert manipulators. They know that everyone has insecurities and they use use those insecurities against you. Abusers can convince you that you don't deserve better treatment or that they are treating you this way to "help" you.
It's easier to get out of an abusive relationship or to avoid one if you know what to look for. So, watch for these 10 warning signs.
1. Declaring love for you on your first date
Love at first sight may sound romantic, but someone who's totally in love on the first date usually become dangerous later on. Emotionally stable people take time to get to know you. Abusers are trying to sweep you off your feet before you have a chance to evaluate them.
2. Cutting you off from friends and family
This can happen so slowly that you almost don't notice it. An abuser knows that friends and family aren't as emotionally invested in this relationship as you are and will try to talk you out of it. The objective is to make you feel alone and dependent on your abuser.
This often comes in the disguise of "wanting to spend more time together, just the two of us." The abuser will disparage all of your friends with cutting remarks about them, trying to make you question your relationships.
3. Tracking your every move.
Your privacy will be eroded little by little. The abuser reads your email, opens your mail, checks your phone, goes through your drawers, handbag, wallet and pockets. An abuser calls you constantly when you are not home, "just checking in."
If you are not living together, an abuser will drive by your house at all hours or "just stop by" several times. Woe to you if you're out of reach or are having lunch with a friend.
4. Threatening suicide
This is an old trick abusers use to keep you in line. Abusers value themselves way too highly to let you go that easily. They are very good at faking suicide by nicking the veins just enough or taking just enough pills to scare you into obedience.
5. Inflicting pain
Hitting, pushing, pinching, or squeezing you, usually leaving marks than clothes can cover, is just the beginning. This is to let you know who's boss. It's one of the biggest warning signs that you should get out.
If you put up with it, your abuser will become confident that you are not going to report bigger things. The more the abuser gets away with, the more violence will escalate.
6. Blaming you for everything
Everything that goes wrong, in or out of the relationship, is because of you. Abusers all use a variant of the same old line: "I wouldn't have to do this if you didn't provoke me into it."
It's amazing how many abuse victims believe this, making excuses for the abuser, such as "he really loves me" or "he just wants to help me improve myself."
7. Always "forgiving" you
After abusing you, and especially after escalating the abuse, your abuser is sweet and light, full of tears, apologies, gifts, special dinners or a night out, self-recrimination, swearing to do better and telling you how much he loves you and how it will never happen again. This is one of the abuser's most effective manipulations.
Abusers are very good actors, some of them going as far as swearing to seek help. You're going to wait a long time for that to happen.
8. Throwing tantrums
These are not only designed to scare you, but an abuser really does have anger issues. Don't feel that you need to "help" an abuser get over this because you can't. These people need more help than you are qualified to provide.
9. Controlling your finances
An abuser insists that you quit your job, talks you into a joint checking account, or into closing your bank accounts and credit cards because "he will take care of you." An abuser insists on knowing how to access your accounts. He gives you an allowance, as if you were a child. This is all part of making sure that you can't afford to leave.
10. Threatening your children
If an abuser threatens your children in any way, or even implies a threat, you must get you and your kids out. Don't tell yourself that he doesn't really mean it.
Don't wait to leave because you're still in love. Those feelings are going to cling, sometimes no matter how badly you were abused. You're going to hang on to the memories of the good times before the abuse started. But, staying in this relationship is going to kill you, one way or another. It will never be the way it was "before."
How to get out? The first number you should have is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you don't, the number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can help you with local referrals, emergency shelter, legal issues, and therapy.
There is also a National Domestic Violence site with more information. Don't use any computer that is accessible to your abuser, as computer usage is easy to monitor. Use a library or school computer, a friend's computer or one at work if you're sure your abuser doesn't have access to it.
Here at The Sinclair Institute, we understand the need for quality adult sex education and support. We are committed to helping couples overcome barriers that can affect the quality of sexual relationships.