Weird, Secret & Often Hidden Signs Of Domestic Abuse (That Everyone Should Know)

Photo: weheartit
Weird, Secret, Hidden Signs Of Domestic Abuse

Sometimes domestic abuse doesn't leave bruises you can see...

During my first short-lived marriage, I took two of my friends in the ladies' room at work to show them a big bruise on the inside of my left thigh. A fight with my ex involved him hurling the cordless phone into my leg from across the room and a bruise resulted.

My girlfriends were so dumbfounded by the violence that they had no idea what to say. Perhaps they'd never experienced such violence from a man. Perhaps they had and my big bruise "hit home" too much for them. Either way, I don't know what kind of words I was looking for from them. 

I knew that was physical abuse. I knew that him yelling at me in crowded places didn't feel good. Eventually, I learned that the type of treatment I'd received (and some that I lashed out) wasn't okay.

Therefore, when I left him and moved onto a future relationship, I was overjoyed that the limits of my new man's anger didn't involve throwing food or drinks in my face nor leaving bruises on my body.

What I didn't realize is that there are other signs of domestic abuse that everyone should know about that don't include physical bruises. More subtle signs of abuse can include:

1. They criticize your appearance. 

It tripped me out the other day when I read an essay from a woman who said that anyone critical of your appearance is practicing domestic abuse.

It's funny how I had an ex-boyfriend in college who took one look at me, the magenta shirt, and baggy blue jeans I wore as we left his apartment in Cincinnati — where I'd flown to visit him on internship — and scrunched up his face.

"Is that what you're gonna wear?"

We went back in the apartment and I cried. From that day I vowed to dress better — fancier, sexier, or more ladylike, I guess. By the time I met him at the Orlando airport, decked out in an all-white, five-finger discount dress and Laura Biagiotti sunglasses that were all the rage in the 1980s, his mouth was agape.

"You look like a movie star," he smiled.

While I credit him with helping me "glow up" in a manner of speaking, I also know that everyone of us has to dress how we love, as long as God approves. I've had guys who love women in makeup and decked out to the nines, whilst others favor the natural look.

"Why are you wearing so much makeup?" one guy asked, as he watched me apply cosmetics in my bathroom mirror.

"Do you have on any makeup?" another young guy at work asked, who favored the natural look.

"I'm wearing a ton of makeup!" I answered.

"Looks nice," he said.

Some guys know nothing about cosmetics, and since tastes can range all over the place, I decided to wear the clothes and makeup style that I prefer. What I didn't know is that someone who forces constant criticism over your too-tight leggings, natural face, hair extensions, teeny weeny Afro, too-loose dress or fitted sheath are practicing a form of domestic abuse.

And anyone you constantly criticize in the same manner — you're doing the same thing to them. So stop it!

It's one thing to be asked for fashion advice or an opinion about what to wear out that evening. But the guy who takes a gander at your tight black leggings with cutouts on the sides and denigrates you for wearing them is practicing domestic abuse and needs to know that he better stop it or risk losing you for good.

RELATED: 9 Signs You're DEFINITELY In A Soul-Sucking, Toxic Relationship

2. They constantly send text messages, leave creepy comments, and cyber-stalk.

Back in the day, we didn't have to worry about people hitting up our phones non-stop.

But now, in 2017, someone blowing up your phone with streams of text messages trying to figure out where you are and with whom you're speaking is practicing a cyber form of domestic abuse.

Perhaps you read that Teen Vogue article showing what domestic abuse looks like via text message. A constant stream of texts, a litany of demands, making the person prove they are where they say they are just feels yucky.

Yes, there can be trust issues and infidelity to overcome. But making a person constantly prove that they are trustworthy in such a manner will only drive them away eventually.

It's domestic violence on a cyber level. So is "comment creeping" and always inspecting how many likes your beloved has gotten on Instagram and Facebook, and figuring out who has left comments and what your beloved has said back to folks.

Cyberstalking their activities and more can be a waste of time. Either make up your mind that you are going to give them a long leash and trust God to let you know anything you need to find out — or leave it alone.

Insecurity is not sexy. Making yourself their mom or dad is not sexy because people in their right minds are not sexually attracted to their mom or dad. Besides, such a domestic violence practice wastes time.

In the span of hours that you spend trying to crack his iPhone password or the time you spent viewing all her online activity, you could've gotten in a workout or have written an article or built the seeds of your new business by starting a GoDaddy website. Move toward positivity.

3. They try to limit your behavior and activities.

You take over the driving duties often because you feel like a better driver and want to be in control.

You don't want you working; you don't want him getting a job as a personal trainer. You don't want her entering a bikini competition; you don't want him booking a deep-tissue massage at a spa.

The more you try and limit their behaviors due to your own insecurities, the more you could be practicing a self-fulfilling prophecy. You could be doing these things out of a knee-jerk fear of losing them, but how would you like that person to limit your behavior? Not good.

RELATED: 15 Signs He's Not Caring, He's Just CONTROLLING

4. They get angry when you say "no" to sex. 

Getting pissed off when you think your mate doesn't want to have sex with you can be a form of domestic violence. Instead of berating your wife or husband for a lack of intimacy, make sure you've done everything in your power to be desirable.

Once you're sure things like hygiene, physical attractiveness, and health issues aren't the problem, ensure the emotional connection is there as well. Don't get mad at your husband if he honestly tells you he doesn't like the way your hair smells. Don't get mad at your wife if she brings up issues of her specific desires.

Look for ways to improve the problem, even if it means a trip to the marriage counselor. Lay down your pride to improve your marital covenant, and help to keep that marital bed undefiled.

5. They use a negative tone when they talk to you. 

If you knowingly or unknowingly set yourself up as the perfect boy scout or girl scout, and view your significant other as the constant "f*** up" that you need to police, you could be practicing a subtle form of domestic abuse.

Realize that the Bible says, "There is none righteous, no not one."

So get off the fricking cross that only Jesus was worthy enough to save us from our sins upon, and understand that everyone is human, and everyone makes mistakes. It's not up to you to constantly correct someone or bring them "up to par" on your level of holiness.

Accept the journey together and enjoy your spouse as they are. Don't torture them with your unrealistic expectations of what you think they should be like. Work on yourself and get to the root of why you may act the way you act.

And don't blame them — either decide if you're going to put up with whatever you think they are doing wrong, or whatever they are actually doing wrong. Take it to God in prayer, and if He says the same move on.

If not, do whatever Jesus wants. Understand that how you feel might be rooted in some generational problem from your parents, and correct it so that you can enjoy your union, and not waste time with fighting and arguing.

For example, a guy might be a good guy but his dad may have always been overprotective and possessive of his mom, so he thinks that's the way "good guys" behave. Digging into the past could reveal that the dad has always felt "not good enough" for the wife, and passed on insecurities to the son, masked as a protective male behavior.

Simply praying in Christ's name for what behaviors to keep — after all, responsible bill-paying, respectful qualities of kindness are wonderful attributes to hold onto — and learning the behaviors to throw away — hitting, name-calling, or more subtle signs of domestic violence — could mean the difference between a divorce court date and 50 year anniversary celebrations that involve genuine happiness.

And it's such a freeing feeling to let others police themselves and be free. And be with you because they want to be with you, not because violence compels them to stay.

Paula Mooney is the author of several books (most written under pseudonyms to protect the guilty), her essays and articles have been featured in national print magazines such as Writer's Digest, and in major online publications like Yahoo, Examiner and more.

Watch YourTango Experts discuss the signs of an abusive relationship.