3 Warning Signs of an Abusive Partner
Abuse in a relationship is usually insidious. It creeps up slowly over time until the victim of the abuse is submerged in domination, control, and isolation. The most common thing I hear people say is, “why would they stay? Why would they allow a person to treat them that way?” My answer is this: An abuser breaks down a person over time. The relationship usually begins like a fantasy where the two are in love and the survivor of the abuse sees the best version of their partner. This version I call, the representative. The representative is sweet, vulnerable, loving, and giving. All the things a person could want in a partner. Then, slowly, the abuser can’t keep up the façade and begins to show their true identity. It can start with an act of jealousy, or the abuser will begin to make denigrating comments that break you down and gaslight you until you believe that you are the problem.
I sometimes think of the allegory of cooking a frog. The story goes like this—You can’t boil a frog by immediately throwing it into boiling water because it will perceive the danger and jump out. Therefore, you must place the frog in tepid water and slowly bring the water to a boil. The frog will remain comfortable and unaware of the impending doom. When the water becomes hot enough for the frog to become concerned, its muscles have grown too weak from the hot water and is unable to jump to safety. – I know, dark right? I am aware that it is hard to read, but to me, this is the best way to understand someone who has been abused. They have been slowly broken down, isolated, controlled, and dominated to the point where they are like frogs in boiling hot water. It is a devastating and traumatic experience that can happen to even the strongest of people. That is the power of manipulation and abuse.
Recognizing signs of abuse is extremely important because having the awareness and knowledge of abuse can help people escape before the water becomes too hot. There are many different types of abuse, but here is a list of the most common types: Physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect, psychological abuse. You can read more about what each of these types are HERE. Now, let’s talk about some signs.
*Disclaimer- this list is not going to be exhaustive, and just because your partner does something on the list does not mean they are or will become abusive. This post is to provide awareness of common behaviors of abusers to provide information. After all, knowledge is power.
Keep in mind, the goal of an abuser is to have control and power. They do this by dominating, controlling, and isolating.
1. Controlling Your Social Media
One of the first things to become an issue is social media. Your partner may start questioning people you friend/add, the posts you comment on, and who you are private messaging. Your partner may demand to have passwords and access to your accounts, they may ask you to block/unfriend people, stop commenting on people’s pages, and may even ask you to take down your own content that is getting too much attention. They may say things like, “I can’t trust you.” “You should do this to make me feel comfortable in our relationship.” “Why do you need the attention of other people when you have my attention.” The goal of these comments are to control, dominate, and isolate. You may find yourself feeling guilty and tempted to give in, but this is the first step in giving away your own autonomy.
2. Controlling What You Wear
Your partner may begin to make comments about your make-up and clothes by saying things like, “you should only want to show off for me.” “I like you better in modest clothing, or with no make-up on.” “Why do you need other people to look at you.” The goal of this is to dominate and isolate you. You may find yourself trying to avoid the gaze of other people, prevent people from noticing you, or you may just do as your partner asks because you don’t want to argue. This is the first step in breaking down your identity.
3. Putting you down
Your partner will feel threatened by your confidence and by anything you have going for you in your life because that will prevent them from having complete control over you. They will begin breaking you down with words so that your light darkens and your confidence dwindles. If you are funny, they won’t laugh at your jokes. If you are smart, they will contradict everything you say. If you are good-looking, they will act unimpressed. This is one of the first things that begins to break a person down. When you are told by a romantic partner that you are less than desirable on a consistent basis, it is human nature to feel insecure and small. It won’t be long until you begin to believe the things they say about you and you begin to think, “man I am lucky to have someone who wants me.”
This one really breaks my heart.
There are many more ways a partner can show you signs that they are abusive. Don’t stay in that pot. It may feel non-threatening, but you do not want to wait until the water becomes too hot. If you are suffering from abuse please reach out to this website:
You are not alone, you are stronger than you know, there is help.
As always, I send you all my love.