I was aghast when a lady spoke of how an older sister of hers had been caught in a vicious cycle of abuse, reconciliation, and then another round of abuse. It was quite disconcerting, how she would go back, begging a man who had beaten her blue and black, within an inch of her life.
And he would “magnanimously” accept her back.
When asked what it was that made her go back, she said the fact that her boyfriend beat her was a sign that he loved her. And that kind of love was what her soul craved.
I felt drained at that revelation, and wondered what kind of upbringing she had that would make her mistake emotional and physical abuse for love. Who hurt her badly? What was so lacking in her life that just about any kind of diluted love would fill it? I felt debased on her behalf.
At the time I heard this story, this lady was still neck deep in that relationship. Everyone around her was worried out of their minds at this toxic relationship. Her family had threatened the boy to leave their daughter alone, and he had replied that they should caution their daughter to leave him alone. At that they were helpless, because the truth of the matter was that their daughter was the one throwing herself on him and, unfortunately for her, he was an abuser.
As I write, I can’t say for sure if she has loosened herself from the grip of madness that has enslaved her heart, but I do know her younger sister, who shared the story with me, is now a married mom of two.
On the other hand, there are lots of ladies and women out there, whose partners don’t physically assault them. They don’t have bruises or scars on any part of their bodies, yet they are emotionally wrecked.
Statistics show that more than one in three women, and one in four men, will be in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives. That abusive relationship might be emotional or physical.
In a 2010 survey by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 57 percent of respondents said they find it difficult to identify the signs of violence in a relationship. Part of the reason it’s so hard to see abuse is that, much of the time, it’s actually invisible. In fact, it often masquerades itself as love.
For the sake of the lady mentioned earlier in this article, and many like her, who don’t know the difference between what love is and what abuse in the guise of love is, here are signs and symptoms of the condition.
1. The relationship moves too fast too soon
Love at first sight is the stuff of dreams, isn’t it? It’s right in the centre of fairy tale territory. However, this is exactly how abusive relationships often start out. He’s instantly head over heels in love with you; your first date might even last the whole weekend. The intensity heats up fast, and suddenly you’re spending absolutely all of your time together. Before you know it, it seems like you have known each other forever, even though it’s only been a couple of weeks, or even days. Remember, the operative word is seems like, not the real deal.
Of course, not every relationship that starts out this way will turn out to be abusive, but if things are moving this fast, there is reason to be cautious. Try to find some sane place inside of you to keep you grounded.
An abusive relationship shifts from exciting to terrifying faster than you can imagine, so be careful.
2. He wants to spend the all his time with you
An abusive guy will never be able to get enough of you – at least in the beginning. He wants you all to himself. Suddenly, you no longer have time to go out with your other friends, or to even spend a night by yourself at home.
This might not feel particularly threatening; after all, he’s telling you how much he loves you, misses you, needs you. That’s sweet, right?
But when he refuses to respect your boundaries and, worse, when he has no life outside of you, that’s a very bad sign.
In a healthy relationship, both partners do have lives of their own. They have a social life outside of their partner’s, and both are are totally okay with that. But when you’re his social life, that’s a red flag…something isn’t right.
3. He wants to know where you are 24/7
So, if he is not spending the day with you, he wants to know where you are at any point in time.
He is possibly the chairman of the association of those callers, whose first question is “Where are you?”. An abuser will want to know exactly where you are all the time you’re not with him.
He’ll do this under the guise that he’s just looking out for you, worrying about you and wanting to make sure you’re safe; and you will truthfully think he’s genuinely interested.
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.