Anybody can end up in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence rarely starts with a shove or a slap. Most abusers engage in psychological manipulation and emotional abuse long before they get physically violent because the ultimate goal of an abuser is to maintain control over the victim. It's easier to do that when you find a way to turn someone's own mind against them.
That's why it's so important to recognize the symptoms of an abusive and unhealthy relationship. Knowing how to spot them in advance may not prevent you from being a victim, but it can help you realize -- early on -- what is happening.
Non-violent Signals That A Relationship Is Abusive
Early awareness can often help victims recognize what is happening before their self-esteem crumbles and the abuser gains control. Here are some relationship "red flags" that indicate abuse:
- Comments that are designed to embarrass or humiliate you -- even if they are then passed off as "jokes"
- Accusations or paranoid fears that you are seeing someone else behind their back or secretly intending to leave them
- Looking through your purse, phone, computer, and social media to see what you've been doing and who you interact with
- Constantly demanding that you "check in" everywhere you go and generally keeping tabs on your whereabouts at all times
- Controlling who you see and when you see them, even to the point of putting limits on your contact with family members
- Demanding that you reduce your hours at work or quit your job so that you can be more available to cater to the abuser's needs
- Controlling all the money in the household and limiting your access to the bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial tools or information
Acts Of Abuse That Stop Short Of Actually Hitting The Victim
You also need to look out for actions that stop just short of actual physical violence. Sometimes victims don't realize that an abuser's threats of self-harm are actually a method of controlling them. For example, an abuser may use threats of suicide to control you (such as, "If you leave, I'll kill myself.") Other quasi-violent acts include destroying some of your favorite things in retaliation for a perceived slight and using vague threats to let you know that they are capable of greater violence. An abuser may display weapons, talk about violence, punch walls, yell, and generally act in an intimidating manner to terrify you into compliance.
It's important to remember that the abuse usually starts small -- with a snide put-down or a comment -- not with a punch. There's often a repeated message from the abuser to the victim that the victim is somehow incapable of being alone, incapable of living without them, "lucky" to have the abuser at all, and generally unlovable.
If you recognize these signs in your relationship, it's time to get out. If the abuse has already proceeded to the point where you have been physically threatened or abused, it's probably time to contact an attorney about a domestic violence protection order in order to regain control of your life and put some distance between you and your abuser. Contact a legal firm, like the Law Office Of Leonard Ernest Kerr , for more help.