Abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, spiritual and/or religious in nature. All forms of abuse occur as a combination. Example, financial abuse may be about controlling your finances but it’s also emotional or verbal in nature. However, physical abuse may be easier to notice as compared to other forms, because of its apparent nature. Let’s discuss today certain markers, which must raise red flags of abuse, other than physical, in your relationship. One important aspect to understand is that the need for love, respect, acceptance and support remain common across cultures with all genders.
You will be able to notice the following in your relationship for it to be termed abusive. Look at it as a pattern and not one- off incident.
DISCLAIMER: Abuse is not gender specific.
1. Control vs Autonomy
Abusers look for control in a relationship. S/he, may strictly control your finances, irrespective of your financial independence or dependence on them. Indulge in, or demand sexual acts as per their wish and be forceful during sex. Force their religious and spiritual belief on you and stop you from practicing your faith. Control your social movements.
2. Criticism vs Support
You may notice your partner almost always being critical of you. Being indifferent to showing no support at all , even at times when you most need it. Small mistakes will be blown out of proportion, with rigid demands of adhering to their standards of perfectionism. Be it your job, dressing style, life choices, simple everyday tasks or you as a person. They will point out flaws and be critical of your shortcomings almost always in a demeaning manner, showing no regard for your achievements and accomplishments.
3. Blame vs Responsibility
They may never take responsibility for things gone wrong. You will always be at fault and the one to blame for the unhappiness, mistakes and problems in life for them. They will never show remorse for their behaviour and/or acknowledge it as inappropriate, often blaming you for being stupid, childish, and irresponsible and /or over sensitive.
4. Possessive vs Protective
You may often see them being extra demanding of your time. Over monitoring you and neglecting your need for social engagements. They will control your social movements and who you meet, often stopping you from meeting your friends and family alone or not at all.
You must notice , that for an abuser it’s always a demand for things happening their way, else there may be a fit of anger , verbal or physical abuse, sulking , withdrawing sex, communication and/or finances for certain period, till “you mend your ways” or “fall in line”.
Please note that none of the above are one off incidents that have happened occasionally. It is a pattern of behaviour which is manipulative and self- serving in nature, ranging between extreme withdrawals to volatility. Sometimes, a Mental Illness such as a Personality Disorder can be the cause of such behaviour in people.
There may be multiple reasons for you choosing to stay in an abusive relationship. Financial, familial, cultural, or simply not knowing what to do. There are various organisations that can help you with legal, financial and emotional counselling to plan your next steps. You can seek help from a Psychotherapist, to assist you in managing your situation/issues. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Take charge and seek support. You never know what might work or change to make things better.