And unfortunately it can affect men, women, and children.
Whether or not you personally are in an abusive relationship, you probably know someone who is and you don't even realize it. And they need you. They desperately need a friend. Whether they admit it or not.
Being that I am obviously a woman, I am going to speak from a woman's view point.
Signs you're in an abusive relationship:
- Your spouse or significant other is extremely possessive and jealous.Of anything. Friends, family, coworkers.
- He try to control you with threats that if you don't do what they say he'll leave you.
- He attempts to isolate you from friends and loved ones. He demands that you sever ties with them. Saying that you'd do it if you truly loved him.
- He's violent and loses his temper easily. Things that don't bother normal people seem to set off an unnecessary reaction in him. And he blames you for his anger.
- Tells you that you are inferior to him. (In the cases of someone being in a supposed Christian relationship he will tell you that the Bible supports this claim). And he will do everything in his power to convince you it's true.
- He abuses drugs and alcohol. Sometimes saying he wouldn't do those things if you were a better partner.
- He mistreats you and then tells you that it's your fault. That if you hadn't said or done something he wouldn't have had to scream at you or hurt you.
- He purposefully embarasses you in public. In front of family, friends, acquaintances. His or yours. When confronted he says that he was only playing. That you're too sensitive.
- You find that you're overly worried about how he will react to things. Like if the house is messy or the dishes aren't done. Or if you break something.
- If he grew up being abused or witnessing an abusive relationship he may treat you the way he was or the way he saw others being treated. Claiming that it's ok because that's how he was brought up.
- If he threatens to harm himself if you leave him. If he threatens to hurt YOU if you leave him.
Some women are threatened with other things. Losing their children, whether or not the claim is possible, as a mother, one of the scariest thoughts in the world is that of losing either of my children. Some women are actually threatened with police involvement if they choose to leave. And a claim that they'll be charged with kidnapping or abuse themselves (and it is possible for a man to cause himself injury so as to have a woman arrested for domestic violence, even when he's the actual culprit).
Some women stay because they fear something even worse if they leave. If they go with threats of violence or even death to themselves, their children, and other family members. Some women, as I said before, fear that their parter will harm himself. And with the mindset they've been in for so long they are led to believe that it will be their own fault if something happens to their partner.
Intimidation and fear are not love. If a man tells you that you're not allowed to speak to your own family, he's an abuser. If a man tells you that your children are not allowed to speak to your family, he's an abuser. If a man tells you that he's going to hurt himself and it would be your fault if he did, he's an abuser. If he tells you that you're not allowed to have friends, or that you're not allowed to speak to them (if you're allowed to keep them) about anything that goes on in your household, he's an abuser. If he hits you he's an abuser. If he calls you names and tells you that it's your fault, he's an abuser (heck, even if he DOESNT tell you that it's your fault).
And for goodness sake, think about your children if you won't think about yourselves.
If your child tells you he's done something to them that they couldn't possibly have learned from anywhere else, listen to them. Even if you don't believe them 100% LISTEN TO THEM. If you leave them with your partner, even if it's just to go to the bathroom, and they tell you he's done something to them when you come back out, listen. If it happens EVERY TIME you go somewhere, listen. If your partner does nothing but sit and watch your children, waiting to catch them doing something wrong so they can yell at them, he's an abuser. If you find bruises on your child and she seems embarassed or doesn't want to tell you where she got them, PAY ATTENTION. If they tell you they're not allowed to tell or else they're afraid they'll get hurt worse, LISTEN. If your children start saying inappropriate things, but won't tell you where they heard them from, pay attention. If they start reacting violently to things that never bothered them before, pay attention. If they start to touch other people inappropriately, or if they start playing rough, or if they all of the sudden have a change in attitude.... PAY ATTENTION.
Your children are not out to get you. Little girls and little boys are not out to ruin your relationships. They are not lying to you to pit you against your partner. Your friends are not out to get you.
And likewise, friends and family, your loved one may want to leave... but doesn't know how. They may be so emotionally beat down that they don't think they'll ever be able to leave. They may not understand that they're being abused. They may truly believe they are the cause of all of the problems in the relationship.
They need your help. They need your love and support. They need someone to tell them they are loved. And they are important. And they are worth something better. Because speaking from experience... in relationships like that... after a while they feel worthless, useless, hopeless... all they want is someone to reach out a hand.