Are You In An Abusive Relationship? Read The Signs Today
Most women do not realise they are in one unless it’s too late.
Romantic love, whether in a marriage or outside it, is one of the most uplifting and empowering emotions in the world. When it’s mutual and positive, it helps you take on the daily, often heart-breaking, challenges of life.
But sometimes, it doesn’t quite work out that way. Love goes awry with the wrong person, and you unwittingly find yourself in the middle of an extremely toxic relationship.
Abusive relationships are way more common than we like to believe. It is NOT limited to a certain social strata. And no, it doesn’t only mean being assaulted by your partner physically - emotional abuse can have far more grievous consequences.
Most women do not even realise or dare to acknowledge - till it’s too late - that they are in an abusive relationship. In fact, they often support their partners through it. Stand-up comic Amy Schumer in her book, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, shares how she was a textbook case of domestic abuse and actually comforted her boyfriend after each episode of rage.
So how do you know if you are in an abusive relationship?
The signs are always there, but as it often happens when we are young and inexperienced, we believe in the happily-ever-after pop culture idea of love as the ultimate be-all and end-all in life. At the end of the day, we are scared to let this person, who we believe loves us, go. For the abuser of course, it’s nothing but a control mechanism.
Learn to read the signs while you have time.
Physical abuse is of course the most obvious sign of a toxic relationship. And it’s more widespread than we imagine, especially in a country like India, where the government doesn’t even recognise marital rape legally. But abuse is just not limited to non-consensual sex.
In a patriarchal society like ours, we - both men and women - think nothing of it when the boyfriend or the husband squeezes or pinches our arm hard enough to bruise it during an argument, or even slap us. We think nothing of them throwing things at us - be it platefuls of food or whatever they find lying around in the immediate vicinity. We think nothing of it when they, in a fit of rage, push us “accidentally” on to a wall or furniture.
“He has a temper,” is how we explain the action, right?
Now get this straight. These men (and to be fair, in some cases, women) merely use and abuse the negative emotion of anger to get their way with others. Most people do not like high-voltage arguments with all its accompaniments of shouting, screaming, throwing things, hitting and so on. So they give in. With time, it becomes as much a habit as an illness.
Leave before he does something worse. A knife is never too far from a slap.
Tempest On Loop
Abusive partners inevitably create this atmosphere of rage. In a romantic relationship, this often takes a cyclical pattern of rage and seeming repentance.
After every angry outburst, the abuser usually follows it up with ‘I am sorry but you made me so angry’ or ‘I try to be so patient with you; why do you do these things?’. Chances are that you comfort him through these sessions, admitting it was all your fault.
And then it happens again. And again. And again. The apologies of course disappear over time - both you know and he knows it is fake.
Where physical scars heal, emotional ones don’t - or take a lifetime to do so. An emotionally abusive relationship wreaks havoc so subtly that you don’t even notice it. And it’s all the more lethal because a person you love and trust slowly but steadily destroys your sense of self-worth - the very worst you can do to a fellow human being.
Sounds dramatic? It’s anything but.
From subtly body shaming you - ‘That colour is not for you’ / ‘your butt is really big’, to belittling your work - ‘Stop cribbing, you don’t even know what real work is like’ / ‘Stop using your work as an excuse’, to random accusations - ‘Why can’t you get one thing right?’ / ‘I am tired of your immaturity and stupidity’ - the forms which emotional abuse take is endless. I once knew of an “educated, middle-class” man who never ever allowed his wife and daughter to go shopping. They had to wear whatever he bought for them all their lives.
Familiar much? Pack your bags now .
You Stop Being Yourself
The ultimate sign that you are involved in a toxic relationship is when you have to think 100 times before you speak or do something - anything. You are scared of being yourself. You have no idea what triggers his rage or derision, simply because there’s no logical explanation to it.
You can say ‘I will be late, I am going out for a drink with my colleagues after work’ (the reaction would be something like ‘you are deliberately trying to avoid my company’) or ‘Why are there different rules for you and me?’ (You dare to question me?’) - the response is always the same. Irrational anger, insults, and coercion. Bottom line: You are NEVER good enough.
Trust me, you don’t want to be - not with this person.
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