I think most of us have been in an abusive relationship at some point, be it with a family member, a partner or even a work relationship. Somehow though, doesn’t it seem like some of us attract these situations more often than others?
I think the key to this predominantly lies with the strength of our own inner self value, which is something established in early childhood and our very first relationships which is with our parents.
I am no expert, or psychologist, but I have been one of those people who’s repeated this cycle of abusive partners more than once.
The thing is, it all starts out pretty well, and a few months down the line suddenly Dr Jekyll makes an appearance and you are dumbfounded. You write it off to a bad day, a moody moment, hey we all have them. But over time, this gets worse and more frequent.
If you are in doubt and found this article, I hope some of the experiences I had and have summarised below help you to stop questioning yourself and your situation; if the problem is you?, if this is normal?, and how to get out. This is based mostly on my own experience and a bit that other female friends have shared with me. I have tried to keep this article gender neutral as far as possible as this can happen to anyone of either sex.
THE SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
Bursts of Aggression, disrespect, verbal abuse, lack of support, continual criticism, failure to take any responsibility in a disagreement, lack of empathy and understanding… to name but a few.
Here are some other’s I had…
I had to put passwords on my cell, laptop, ipad, etc to stop them snooping through my personal information.
I had to block them on whatsapp because they have a fit if they see you “online” too often and you’re not talking to them at that moment, or you haven’t yet replied to their message
I mostly kept my phone on silent because every time it made a beep you get that look from them that screams “who the hell is THAT??”… everyone’s a threat, and their first thought is there is some betrayal afoot behind their back.
You feel like you’re constantly trying to juggle and manage their “sensitivities” so as to avoid a confrontation or fight erupting.
Any interactions with anyone other than them is cause for interrogation of everything you did or said
I began avoiding seeing friends, as the drama that follows is just not worth it and you want to avoid being “in trouble”, or to avoid public embarrassment when he attacks them, or they will just get sick of hearing how badly he is treating you and yet you never leave him and don’t take their advice.
You feel stressed around this person a lot of the time.
When there is an argument, you listen and question yourself as to whether they have a valid point, could you have done something better? – they on the other hand never question themselves.
They will criticise a lot that you do, almost everything is YOUR fault, they never apologise or acknowledge /admit their part.
These criticism’s will wear you down, you will begin to doubt yourself and possibly start to believe you are the problem in the relationship, you constantly feel you are on the back foot defending yourself.
You begin to ask others close to you if you are really this person your partner describes you as, you don’t know who you are anymore, where your boundaries are, what is acceptable or not. You are confused because despite all this they swear they love you, or excuse their behaviour as proof or a consequence of just how much they care and love you.
You have to modify yourself to overcompensate for their “sensitivities”, walking on eggshells so as not to provoke an attack, an argument, a public scene, another confrontation of verbal abuse and attack on your character.
You don’t go out without them, and going out with them is also fraught with endless potential for an argument. You keep your cell on silent around them and ignore friend’s calls and messages as when they see you having a pleasant conversation with anyone else this is an easy trigger for a fight, followed by punishment.
I read that “in a healthy relationship you should never feel fear to be yourself or express how you feel to your partner for fear of Punishment.”
They will ignore you, for hours, sometimes days. Or they will aggressively attack you with accusations and criticisms. They may cause a public scene to embarrass you or even bad mouth you to mutual friends or their family or on social media.
When they are angered / enraged, I would face a slew of verbal abuse, be it face to face, text msgs or emails.
In my case he would often also pack all his things and move out saying it was over and he was leaving me, instilling a fear of abandonment and possibility of disloyalty or unfaithfulness to soon follow.
Their aim is to control you by inflicting hurt and fear when you don’t play by their rules (emotional / psychological or physical): eg. Rage filled outbursts, insults and criticism, swearing and disrespect, silence or abandonment..
They are always quick and able to justify their actions and reactions, and this justification is almost always because you have “done something wrong”. There’s the saying “the best form of defence is attack”. And so the accusations fly: You were obviously flirting; That guy over there is looking at you – you have somehow incited this and why haven’t you marched over there and told him to fuck off; You didn’t do something he told you to; You weren’t affectionate enough; You don’t reassure him enough; You didn’t reply to his text message immediately, You said u would be gone for about an hour but you took 2 hours – what the hell were you really doing?? You keep secrets; You are obviously lying, and so it goes. It is ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT! Usually yours! This is just some I regularly experienced.
MY THOUGHTS ON WHAT NEXT
If this sounds familiar to you, you are in a toxic relationship with a controlling abusive narcissistic person. You may love them, they may have many good sides too, but do you really want to live a lifetime on this rollercoaster?
Decide when you are ready, sometimes it takes a while before you get to the point of realisation that this isn’t healthy, you are living in constant stress, this isn’t going to go away or get better, you can’t “fix” this. This is not what love is really about or like. You deserve much better. You can read books like “The Road less travelled” to understand better what commitment, support and love truly are if you don’t have a good point of reference or feel you need a better perspective on what you’re enduring versus what you should be experiencing. There are also many good articles online.
Staying in this situation will gradually take its toll, you will look back after months or a year or more, and see you are a different person, a less happy more stressed person. In my experience my health started to give problems, at first I got continuously sick, then I got chronic IBS, next anxiety disorder and depression. My partner even used this to further criticize me and make me doubt myself further. Interesting to note though, once he was out of my life for good, most of these health issues dramatically disappeared.
The next time they fight with you, throw them out, if they are living with you – help them pack their bags!! This will shock, scare and infuriate them more as they realise that you are taking back your power in your life. You are finally standing up for yourself and not tolerating their crap any longer. You are not afraid to lose them, and that’s a scary concept for someone who feeds off your fear.
WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
When you finally reach that point that you’ve had enough, this isn’t worth it, or their treatment of you is so bad you have actually lost respect & feelings for them and so you end it, that is the point they realise they have gone too far, and more importantly, THEY HAVE LOST CONTROL OVER YOU.
The egotist doesn’t like to lose! Initially they will probably leave and pretend to get on with their life for a short while, thinking you will change your mind soon (they are narcissists after all), and eagerly await you to come begging for them to take you back.. They will likely try a few antics to make you jealous & provoke you into changing your mind & stirring your fears. This is more manipulation. Stay strong.
When this doesn’t work for their benefit, they will come back, just like the TERMINATOR!! J…trust me. Their ego can’t handle the idea they have lost their power.
Then be prepared for long messages “justifying” their behaviour, which likely will still put most of the blame on you. If they’re feeling quite desperate you may get an apology. The apology is hollow and just bait; it’s really a form of begging in disguise (nothing is their fault remember) . There may even be gifts as further proof of desperation to not let you out of their grip and lure you back.
If you fall for this, I guarantee you, it won’t be long before the good behaviour ends and you are right back to square one! THEY DON’T CHANGE!!
They will try to cement their relationships with your friends so they have an excuse to arrive at gatherings where you are, and may try to convince your friends to talk you into giving them another chance. Hopefully by this stage those closest to you will know how they have treated you and will therefore remain loyal to you and not entertain this. In fact be sure to make those close to you are aware of the abuse you have endured as sometimes these types of people can resort to extreme and drastic measures. You will be better off with the support and protection of your friends & family.
Be prepared for some stalking!!! And not just trying to follow you around the city to try and bump into you or watch what you are doing and who you talk to, these days a lot of it will be internet stalking. Be sure to block all their email accounts on your facebook and ensure all your settings are set to strictly private. Check your friends list and if there is anyone you are friends with that you are not sure who they are, delete them. These people are such control freaks they sometimes create new facebook accounts under a fake name and photo and add you as a friend – sometimes even before you break up, so they have a back-up plan to still be able to monitor you. Likewise with other social media accounts. It’s virtually impossible to block someone on Twitter as they can just create a new account to follow you. Best is to abandon the account you have and create an anonymous one if you still really want to continue with it. Also delete their facebook friends as they will try to access your profile this way too.
I kept records of all the abusive emails and whatsapp chats (u can email a whatsapp conversation to yourself as a record). I did this both as a reminder to myself of what a cruel and nasty person this was if at any time I felt doubt over ending it. I also did this as evidence in case I should need a restraining order or any harm came to me.
It has been more than 3 years since I ended my relationship with my abusive ex-boyfriend, and he still tries to contact me and make excuses for why I need to meet with him. Best is don’t reply, just ignore…as soon as you reply – there comes the manipulation, abuse etc all over again.
Lastly, know you are not alone, MANY of us have been in this situation.
Your sense of self value has been eroded and filled with doubt making you easy prey to the next one. Take time to work through those doubts , work on learning to love and value yourself, make a list of what makes you a wonderful person, be grateful and appreciate all your talents, those who love you, and all you have achieved. Work on this repeatedly and slowly your self-value will be rebuilt. Re-evaluate what are healthy boundaries to have. There are many books and articles on line that you can read to reinforce what a good & healthy relationship should be like and how to practice building up your self-esteem.
You deserve to be LOVED, without conditions, just as you are, without changing or adapting yourself to another’s needs and issues. You deserve to be appreciated for the wonderful person you are, and treated with respect ALWAYS!! Even during a fight.
These people will treat you as badly as you let them treat you, take control back
And lastly, my favourite quote that helped get me out of this situation “What you put up with is what you end up with” – so nip it in the bud early if you start to see any of these signs.
IF YOU FEEL THIS ARTICLE MAY HELP SOMEONE YOU KNOW IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS, PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH THEM & GIVE THEM AS MUCH SUPPORT AND UNDERSTANDING AS POSSIBLE. ITS NOT EASY GETTING OUT OF A RELATIONSHIP LIKE THIS.