When I tell my story of struggles, I talk about domestic violence. The first question I get is "Did he ever hit you?" Although I did receive 2 punches to my arm that put an end to the relationship, they weren't what caused the most pain.

Abuse can be extremely subtle but very damaging.

When I called to get help the first time, it wasn't regarding my relationship. I actually thought I was going through post-partum depression after my second child because I could not smile, I could not concentrate at work and I was always crying. 

After an hour long interview and a committee evaluation, I was told I needed urgent help. I wasn't dealing with depression but with conjugal violence. I said NO.

That's right. I said NO. I could not believe it or accept it.

I could not see the red flags.

Abuse had become the norm in our relationship and I had accepted it.

I am not sure I would have read, understood or been able to digest such information back then, but I want to put it out there anyway. You or someone you know may need to read this list to start the process of awareness, acknowledgment and healing from abuse.  

 

Here are 11 symptoms of abusive relationships you should know about and none of them involve physical abuse!

(they are not in any particular order, and I will use "he" for simplicity)

  1. Your partner is very controlling. He decides who you can or cannot see, what you will wear and how you will behave. 
  2. He criticizes you for your looks, weight, intelligence, cleanliness, etc, making you feel unworthy of love.
  3. He belittles you and your accomplishments in private or even in public. He may even insult you using humor to cover up.
  4. He uses threats to get what he wants. He can threaten to hurt you, your loved-ones or even himself.
  5. He is disrespectful of you, your space, your time and your belongings. He may "steal" your money, even from your joint account.
  6. He stalks you by always calling/texting you, checking your phone, emails and social media accounts. He acts very jealous and makes you feel guilty for no reason.
  7. He plays mind games, pretending you forgot things, changing information to confuse you, making you feel like you are losing your mind. 
  8. He pushes your buttons and calls you a maniac when you get angry.
  9. He lies to you or cheats on you and when he is caught, he either blames you for it or turns it around to question your integrity.
  10. He may apologize for hurting you, promise to change, demand that you turn the page and never mention it again. The cycle will start over again and again.
  11. He validates his abusive actions all the time making you second guess yourself, making you feel guilty, ashamed or stupid that you could have thought badly of him.


As you may have noticed, these red flags can be extremely subtle. Often, the abused partner will have lost so much self-esteem that she cannot see the abuse for what it is even when it is blatant.

Family and friends may or may not be conscious of these symptoms, however when they are, they can help to empower her. 

Please take this type of abuse seriously even if there are no physical signs to show for it. The damage is real, very long lasting and incredibly deep. It is also transmitted to the next generations as long as healing is not undertaken. 

I hope this post helps to raise awareness. If you know someone who needs this information, please share.

(Note: I wrote about spousal type relationships, however this type of abuse can occur in any other type of family, business or social relationship, similar to bullying)

 

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