Abuse in relationships has become very widely accepted. Physical abuse has become so common that most people are numb to its existence and effects. It sometimes feels as though every other type of abuse isn’t even considered abuse anymore. Because of this unfortunate reality, many voluntarily continue to suffer every day. Worse yet, to encourage the habitual cycle as their children learn through observation. However, I am here to tell you that mental abuse or verbal abuse in relationships is completely unacceptable.
What is Mental Abuse?
Before I met my soon-to-be husband, I dated Mr. Very Wrong for three years. He never beat me, but he left many deep scars from which I am still healing. He did things like threaten me if I took too long in the bathroom chatting with women. Or other things like cuss me out in the school parking lot in front of friends.
Despite how obviously twisted his behavior was, I stayed with him for three years. The few friends I had believed his lies which made me believe them, too. When we broke up, I tried to clear my chest of all of the horrible secrets I kept for him during our time together. I was informed by several different people that his treatment of me was not abuse simply because he never hit me. It wasn’t until a year later while I was sitting in a therapist’s office that someone finally told me that just because he never laid his hands on me doesn’t mean that it was okay or that it was not considered abuse.
How many women out there are still waiting to be told this truth? Too many. How do you know when it’s time to work out your differences or to walk away from an abusive relationship? Here are some questions to ask yourself and reflect on the answers as honestly as possible.
Questions To Help You Determine If You Are In An Abusive Relationship:
Do you ever feel scared of your significant other?
Regardless of whether you are being physically abused, you should never feel scared when you’re with your significant other. They are supposed to be there to love and protect you, and if you don’t feel safe, than that is a major red flag.
What do your arguments usually stem from?
Every couple argues. Every couple argues about stupid things from time to time, too. However, if you have regular, genuine fights over things such as your significant other not wanting you to listen to male vocalists on your iTunes because he doesn’t want other guys’ voices in your head, you may want to rethink your relationship.
Does your partner support your dreams?
Dreams change over the years, and yes, they change when you enter into a committed relationship. However, they need to change naturally and not forcefully. If you have always dreamed of a big office job in the city and your significant other guilt-trips you into being a stay-at-home parent in the boondocks, that’s an issue. The issue could be that you are not as compatible as you originally thought, or it could just be that they are not willing to compromise their wishes with yours because they don’t feel your dreams are worth pursuing. Make sure you’re not losing yourself for the sake of the relationship and/or that your significant other expects you to.
Know that the abuse will not get better or go away. It usually gets worse. Don’t ignore the red flags. Get out safely as soon as you possibly can.
Abusive Relationship Resources:
Here are a few resources you can use to begin to learn more about types of abusive relationships and freeing yourself from an emotionally abusive relationship:
The Relationship Spectrum
All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy somewhere in the middle. Use the Relationship Spectrum to see where your relationship falls.
Please know that you deserve a good relationship and you should not be subjected to abuse. Seek help if you need help.
Resources for Victims & Survivors | The National Domestic Violence Hotline
As a warning, please be aware of online safety. Use a gender-neutral username on websites and do not share personal information.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Teaching Children to be Safer and Smarter
What To Do When Feeling Overwhelmed