Millions of women are physically battered each year. It is more common for women to be physically abused, but make no mistake, it also happens the other way round. There are women who physically assault their men. Women find it hard to report abuse, but men do as well. For men, reporting physical abuse is extra embarrassing as they are ‘meant’ to be the stronger sex. So, to hide the embarrassment, they keep quiet and the abuse continues.
6 Tell-tale Signs of a Potentially Abusive Relationship
While you are still dating there are tell-tale signs that the relationship could become abusive especially after the marriage has taken place, when there is no longer any need to ‘pretend’. Does your boyfriend (or girlfriend) fall into any of these categories?
- He criticizes your physical appearance. Criticism might seem like innocent suggestions to improve your looks. It isn’t innocent. It’s an attempt to control. There might even be criticisms of what you eat, criticisms masked in an attitude of care “You could put on weight”. Given time, these ‘suggestions’ progress into ridicule and demands. Thinking back I remember a school friend who became anorexic because her boyfriend said she was too fat (even after they’d become anorexic). Another girl said that her boyfriend would only take her out to public places if she lost weight. Until she did lose the weight, he would leave her at home and only visit her at home. She lost weight but it actually made no difference because his ‘concern’ was actually an abuse. Disrespect of physical appearance usually develops into other forms of abuse.
- Listen to tell-tale signs from the family. Unfortunately the pattern of abuse often goes through family generations as this is the learnt pattern of communicating. Your boyfriend would have learnt how to relate to women from his father. Be careful if there are signs of abuse between your possible ‘future in-laws’. Often abuse is kept silent in families. However there are a few clues that can indicate your partner is being raised in an abusive environment. These clues include drug or alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse mental and verbal abuse and abuse between siblings. Ask yourself if the family relationships indicate love and respect or selfishness and disrespect.
- Threats. This is often a consequence of an anger problem and an inability to forgive. Threats can be used to control you and are a warning sign of future abuse.
- Jealousy. If your boyfriend is jealous and wanting to keep track of your every move, beware! Unfortunately girls sometimes justify jealous behavior by this type of thinking “My boyfriend must really love me because he wouldn’t become violent if he didn’t care so much” or “He only wants to protect me, because he loves me so much”. Jealousy is an outworking of insecurity. It is not a sign of love! Flee before it’s too late.
- Masked violence. Masked violence includes holding you too tight, tickling you too hard or pinching. If you complain, the abuser will claim, “I was only playing”, “Don’t be so overdramatic” or “It was only a bit of fun, lighten up!” The victim ends up questioning the validity of her feelings and lets the abuser off the hook.
- Sexual pressure. For an abuser, sex is a way of forcing submission and gaining control. It isn’t a way of showing love. Don’t get fooled by the guy trying to persuade you that if you really loved him you’d have sex with him. False logic, you don’t have to prove your love through sex.
If any of these signs ring true for you, get help from an adult you can confide in. It can be difficult to get out of an abusive relationship as the abuse will have caused havoc in your mind, falsely making you believe that this is what you deserve.
Nobody, absolutely nobody deserves abuse.