Domestic abuse, (also known as spousal abuse) is when one partner in marriage or an intimate relationship seeks to control and dominate the other. When domestic abuse includes physical violence, it is called domestic violence.
Nobody wants to get into an abusive relationship. In fact, many women who have escaped such a relationship swear to themselves that they will never get into another one, just to find themselves with yet another partner who abuses them, whether physically or mentally. Many other live with an abusive partner without being aware of it, or are afraid to admit to themselves that this is how their life looks like. And yet, it takes an average of five to seven acts of violence before a woman leaves her abuser. Other women choose to stay, or convince themselves that there is no other way (this is usually called the battered wife syndrome). Some simply fail to recognize the warning signs before it’s too late.
So, what are the signs of an abusive relationship? If your partner displays the following behaviors, you may be in such a relationship.
Pressing for Commitment and Control
Your partner pressures you, pushing for an exclusive commitment before you’re ready for such involvement. He declares his feelings towards you almost immediately (“You belong to me”), making you feel guilty if you want to move slower or just feel differently, trying to take control over your relationship or demanding you behave or look differently.
Of course, it might be that your partner just feels more for you more than you do. However, if his behavior feels really uncomfortable, or if you feel manipulated to feel guilty about feeling the way you do, it’s not a good sign.
Your partner is excessively possessive and jealous, keeping you away from friends and even family, and insists that you go everywhere together. He has the annoying habit of constantly calling, or visiting you unexpectedly and sulks when you want to spend a night out with friends without him, especially if it’s a friend of the opposite sex. He also interrogates you about who you talked to and where you were, and you may even catch him checking your phone to see who you talked or sent SMS to.
Blaming Everything on Others
He makes everyone else responsible for his feelings and actions – (“see what you made me do” – and blames others, whether it is his boss, family or you, for his own mistakes and failures (like for an inability to keep a job for more than a short period, for example).
Hypersensitivity and Mood Swings
Unpredictability is a classic sign of an abusive person; Your partner is easily insulted and may switch from a tender and loving attitude to anger, or even threats of physical violence, in a matter of minutes. The tiniest disagreement or criticism can set him off, and you can never relax and be natural around him, constantly feeling as if you were walking on eggshells, watching carefully what you say for fear he’ll get angry or violent, working hard to keep your relationship peaceful.
Use of Force During Sex
Your partner uses to do things against your will during sex, using force, holding you down and playing the rapist.
Your partner uses language to manipulate you, to get you to put yourself down and feel worthless; He may criticize, curse and degrade you, calling names and using your past mistakes and vulnerable points against you, while still professing love.
Your partner has a past of battering. He makes threats of violence, then dismissing them, saying he didn’t mean it. If he hits you, he may claim that you “made him do it”, or swear it will never happen again. But it is usually a lie: If he hit you once and got away with it, he will probably do so again, and no, you cannot “make someone” hit you – it is his choice, and he is the one to blame.
So let’s sum this up. If you’re not sure, whether or not you’re in an abusive relationship, think well: Have you began to see that several of those signs begin to form a pattern? Do you find yourself dreading the moment when your partner will walk through the door, though you’re not sure why? Do you find it hard to relax in his presence? If so, it’s time to reevaluate that relationship. Abusers rarely change for the better. The opposite is usually true. Fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation, these are the tools that will be used against you again an again, to try to control you.
Our inability to let go of a relationship that brings us more sorrow than joy often stems from a deeply hidden fear to stay alone, to find someone better than our current partner. It is as if we are unsure of our chances to find someone who will make us happy. Deep down inside, we may feel we’re not good enough, that a decent, loving person is hard to find and we should stick to what we already have and not take the risk that we’ll lose even that and will not find a worthy replacement. But ask yourself if you’re actually afraid of your partner. And if you do, no matter how much you love him, you’ll have to let it go before you get hurt.