Are you in an abusive relationship? We don’t always like to admit the truth that’s staring us in the face. All the same, we must see these painful pairings for what they truly are. Accepting the brutal realities of your toxic relationship is an important first step on a long journey that will bring with it great love and great reward. Do you have the courage to take that first step? Admit what you’ve been running from and give yourself the chance at happiness you deserve.
Is your relationship an abusive one?
Are you in an abusive relationship? The signs aren’t always as easy to spot as we might like to think. Be aware and keep your eyes open. Does your partner speak viciously? Threaten you? Steal your money or your hope? You may be dealing with an abusive partner or spouse in the heart of your home.
They speak viciously to you
Does your partner talk down to you? Do they cut you with their words and brutal insults? Verbal abuse is a form of abuse. And it’s no less deserving of walking out the door. Your partner doesn’t have a right to criticize you, run you down, or demean you. Someone who belittles you doesn’t love you. They love inflicting pain on you.
They cut off friends and family
Self-isolating in a relationship is never healthy. It’s worse when that isolation is brought about by an abusive partner. Abusers love to isolate their partners. They have to. Separating you from your friends, family, and career enables them to keep you to themselves. Alone, you have no way of seeing what’s really happening (and no one to help you if you did). It’s like a predator getting you alone in the woods. The intention is not to build a better bond.
They use violence and threats
Do you have a relationship that’s regularly rocked by violence and threats? The standard of abuse we’re most familiar with, this volatile level of explosive interaction, can include physical violence and verbal threats. The idea here is to make you feel as though you need to be in fear for your life. However that is accomplished, it’s abusive. Your most trusted friend and lover should never strive to make you feel unsafe (in any way).
They absorb your resources
Financial and material abuse are common, but very often overlooked. Loved ones who steal resources — or who guard them jealously while assuming all control — are abusing you. Money is power, it’s options, and it’s control. When your partner takes all financial control, they take power and options from you. You become beholden to what they want; from where you live to what you eat. Financial autonomy is a must in all happy relationships.
They manipulate your emotions
Abusive relationships can also take the form of highly manipulative ones. Here, you want to take notice of narcissistic behaviors and partners who pull emotional strings. They may always cast themselves in the role of the victim, or they may turn on their own emotions in order to affect your own. Emotional autonomy is key to a happy relationship. If your partner manipulates your thoughts and emotions, you could be facing an abuser.
They always put themselves first
An abuser will always put themselves first when push comes to shove. Does your partner always take precedence over you? Look for a spouse or loved one who always demands their own way. This can happen in superficial moments and big ones, too. A partner who always puts themselves first is always going to put you second. In that place, you can always expect less empathy and less respect.
They control your behavior
Your partner may not hit you. But what about your behavior? Do they try to change the way you act? What happens when you’re having fun in public? Do they shush you? Shame you? Tell you that you’re being stupid? What happens at home? Do you feel free to act and react naturally? Or are you always questioning how your partner will feel about your reactions? Behavioral control and manipulation are common in the abusive relationship or home.
The 10 brutal realities of abusive relationships.
Finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship can’t happen until you accept where you’re at. The pain isn’t going to get better. As a matter of fact, it may get worse. Understand the brutal realities of abusive relationships, and you can find the power to escape them for a bigger and better life.
They tend to get a lot worse
Too many people get caught up in magical thinking — especially where they’re toxic and abusive partners are concerned. They think that everything will magically blow over, or that their partner will one day wake up and see the error of their ways. That’s not what happens, though. In many cases, the abuse gets worse before it gets better. In some cases, it becomes so bad that families and lives become the ultimate sacrifice to this magical thinking.
Abuse happens in cycles
If you think abuse is a constant wall of conflict, you may already be wedged somewhere dangerous. Abuse happens in cycles. It’s not full on all the time. Instead, it goes through ebbs and flows (much like anything else in our lives). Things get hot and intense, blowups build in intensity. Then everything backs off. Your abuser may even decide to sweeten up to pull you back into a sense of comfort. It’s not bad all the time. And that’s why so many get stuck.
It cannot ever be your fault
No matter what, abuse is never your fault. It doesn’t matter how you think you messed up, or if you think you did something wrong. No one ever has a right to hit, terrorize, or harm you. Their abusive behavior is not a choice you made. It’s a choice they made. Seeing that choice, you can put the blame squarely where it belongs. Allow the abuser in your life to take responsibility for the mistakes they continue to make.
It’s not strictly physical
Abuse isn’t relegated to the physical realm alone. Your partner doesn’t have to hit you to hurt you. Partners and spouses can abuse you with their words, and they can also abuse you emotionally. They can steal from you, take advantage (and control) of your finances. They can even use sexual intimacy against you. Abuse is subtle and nuanced, and may abusers pile it on in different layers that leave us confused and wondering which way is up.
You can’t trust everyone
When we’re hurting, we like to run to others with our struggles. They say a problem shared is a problem halved, and that’s true. But you can’t rely on everyone to help you when you’re in an abusive relationship. Some people will promise to help you, but they will actually make it worse. It’s important to be aware of who you’re sharing your abuse with, and to ensure that you can trust them to hold you best interests at heart (at all times).
Power is always involved
Power is always, always, always involved in abusive relationships. That’s the point of abuse. It is meant to control the behaviors and beliefs of those around the abuser, so that this abuser can get what they want from the people around them. If a partner abuses you, it’s because they want power over you and they want to control you. Their abuse is never rooted in love, even if they can genuinely feel some kind of love for you.
Confusion comes standard
Falling into an abusive relationship is a painful and confusing experience. Things generally start off with a lot of passion and fire, and then you slide into more chaos than you ever imagined. You become confused by this person — who says they love you before and after they hit you. And you become confused by the world they manipulate around you. Confused or not, we still have to find the power to act and remove ourselves from the danger we’re in.
Love is a part of the equation
We tend to think that abuse comes with an absence of love, but nothing could be further from the truth. Abusers are still very capable of believing they love the people they hurt. Beyond that, you are also very capable of loving someone even though they hurt you. Abuse doesn’t demonstrate an absence of love, but it does demonstrate an absence of empathy — and no relationship can survive without a strong foundation of empathy for both partners to relate from.
Leaving doesn’t bring an end
Leaving an abusive relationship doesn’t bring it to an end. Many abusers follow their partners and continue to inflict damage on their lives for years. Worse than that, the patterns you learn from abusive partners become a part of your other relationships. You can’t just walk away and expect the abuse to end. You have to work on bettering yourself and healing so that you don’t fall into the same patterns and habits the next time.
Staying silent is a bad choice
Staying silent about your abuse is also not an option. When you stay quiet, you enable your abuser to keep to playing their games. You don’t have to speak up to them, but you do have to find a way to speak up to someone. You need a support network of people who can help you build motivation and leave. Identify those you can trust, and pull them close so they can fill you up with their love and their inspiration.
Putting it all together…
Clinging to abusive relationship won’t make it better; it won’t make your partner change or see how damaging their behavior is. The only thing we can do when abusive relationships are in play is find the strength to accept the truth (and walk away). You deserve better that someone who would rather watch you suffer than thrive. Accept the truth and leave now..
You are worth so much more than selling yourself out to an abusive person. The love and connection that you crave is out there, and it’s waiting in the arms of someone who truly sees and values you for who you are. Now is the moment to fall in love with this person inside of you.
Now is the moment to find your deeper strength and stand up for the life that you desperately need. You’re ready. And you’ve always been ready. All you need to do now is take a deep breath and leap. The people you love are waiting to catch you. Stop settling for a life lived in pain, fear, and the uncertainty of an abusive relationship.
- Harrison, J., & Dixon, M. (2019). Narcissist Abuse Recovery: The Ultimate Guide for How to Understand, Cope, and Move on from Narcissism in Toxic Relationships. Pardi Publishing.
- Iwaniec, D., Larkin, E., & Higgins, S. (2006). Research Review: Risk and resilience in cases of emotional abuse. Child Family Social Work, 11(1), 73-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2206.2006.00398.x