In the first post for our month long series on Healthy Relationships, I want to share 5 signs of an abusive relationship. These are by no means all-inclusive. If your "gut check" tells you something doesn't feel right, trust it.
*Note: I will be using pronouns that imply that the male is the abuser and the female is the victim, however we know that this in not always the case. The same rules apply when the genders are reversed and also in same-sex relationships.
#1. Intense Romantic Relationship
The abuser is very charming in the beginning of the relationship. He sweeps the woman off her feet, telling her what he knows she wants to hear. He professes a deep love for her telling her that he can't live without her. This is very easy to get swept up in and easily overlooked as a sign of a potentially abusive relationship.
In the beginning, the abuser may appear a little jealous. He may act uncomfortable when the woman speaks to another man, He may start to ask questions about what was talked about. At this point, it can almost seem charming. The woman feels wanted and loved. She feels like this man wants her so much that he can't bear the thought of her even talking to another man who may find her desirable. Eventually, he makes it impossible for her to speak with, work with or even make eye contact with another man.
This goes along with #2. The abuser becomes so possessive, that he begins to limit the woman's time with all people, not just those of the opposite sex. She may lose contact with close friends and family. All of her time and attention needs to be on the abuser who tells her that if she loves him then he should be all she needs.
#4. The Stepford Wife
The abuser often believes in very rigid sex roles and expects his partner to abide by them perfectly. He believes the woman should serve him while looking perfect. She is to be his trophy without attracting too much attention, a gourmet chef, a perfect housekeeper and to perform at his will in the bedroom.
#5. The Blame Game
The abuser rarely accepts responsibility for his own problems and mistakes. Even his mood is attributed to outside people and factors. He says things such as "Why do you do things that you know make me angry?"
These are just a few signs of an abusive relationships. Please check back for the follow-up that shares a few additional signs.
If any of these signs sounded a little familiar to you or raised a red flag, please take a close look at your relationship. If you can, leave. Contact a domestic violence shelter if you need to. Reach out to your support system whether it be a close friend, family or a trusted website where you can choose to remain anonymous, such as The Dandelion. If any of this reminds you of a friend's relationship, do your best to be supportive and offer resources, but be gentle. It is very difficult to leave an abusive relationship, and often difficult to identify it as such. Be there for your friend when she needs you, but don't give up on her.
The Dandelion: Where Survivors of Abuse Come to Connect