Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

People in abusive relationships are at risk, and if they have children, are putting the children in harm's way. If you sometimes wonder if you are in an abusive relationship, read on, for your own sake (and that of any kids involved).

Proceed With Caution 

  1. Know the warning signs:
    • Blames you for his / her anger.
      • There is a difference between a person having an occasional bad day, and a person consistently blaming someone else for their problems.
      • Attempts to always find someone else responsible when things go wrong, or referring to him/herself as a "victim of circumstance" should raise a red flag.
    • Serious drug or alcohol use or other addiction.
      • Is your partner addicted to drugs, alcohol, or being in control over things? Does s/he self-medicate to try to get away from problems? Does s/he try to avoid problems instead of dealing with them? If so, your partner could be trouble.
    • History of violent behavior.
    • Threatens others regularly.
    • Insults you or calls you names.
    • Trouble controlling feelings like anger.
    • Tells you what to wear, what to do or how to act. Tries frequently to keep you away from friends or family. Isolation is a form of brain-washing and manipulation. S/he is trying to keep you away from people who could help you, or who could influence your opinion of this relationship.
    • Attempts to move/relocate the household frequently to "start over" (it's part of removing you from your support network - i.e., friends and family).
    • Threatens or intimidates you in order to get what s/he wants.
    • Throws away, accidentally breaks, or causes your favorite possessions to "disappear" when you have upset him/her.
    • Tires you out and makes you doubt yourself. This usually comes in the form of escalating trivial arguments into full-blown mega-fights which last hours... and hours... and hours. (this is also an effective form of mind control)
    • Accuses you of "making up" problems or relationship issues to have something to worry about.
    • Says hurtful things, but later swears that he/she didn't and accuses you of "having memory problems".
    • If you find yourself doing things because "s/he will be angry otherwise," or "because s/he will break up with me if I don't," then this person is controlling you in an unhealthy way. From there, it's a very short step to actual emotional and/or physical abuse. 
  2. Be unsparingly objective. Do any of the above sound like your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/self? If so, then:
    • Talk to someone that you can trust. A sibling, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or a friend whom you knew before you got involved with him/her are the best choices.
    • Plan in advance to have a safe place to go. Your safe place should be 20-30 minutes drive time away. The further away it is, the less likely the person is to follow you and confront you. If your partner does not know of this place, it is far better for all concerned.
  3. Keep money and your cell phone or calling card with you at all times. However - and this is very important - once you are away, do not respond to texts or phone calls from your partner (now your ex). Answer the first one briefly and firmly: "It's over. Please don't call or text any more - I won't answer. I'm sorry it's ended this way, but I am finished with this relationship, and I won't be coming back. I wish you well, but this is goodbye."
    • Avoid those who are/were close to the ex. They only know his/her side of the story, and may not understand why you left abruptly. Some will mean well, but some will openly side with him/her. Therefore, keep your business private. Decline to talk about your reasons, plans, current situation, etc., with anyone who may have contact with your ex.
    • Once you have begun to think of leaving, begin to discreetly and quietly gather anything of importance to you. Don't wait until the moment that you make the big choice, but go ahead and locate your important papers, spare keys, bank information, and any other item you might not want to leave behind if you live together. You can always ask your safety person to keep them for you.
    • When you make the decision to go, do it. Don't talk about it, or threaten to do it. Just get your keys, purse, bag, etc., and get in your car or go and call for a ride to pick you up. If you can leave while the abusive person is away from home, all the better.
  4. Establish a code word or sign so family, friends and co-workers know when to call for help. You could say "I'm meeting with Mr. Reddy." Mr. Reddy stands for "red alert" or "something is really wrong."

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