How do I know if I am in an Abusive Relationship?
One of the signs that I did not recognize in the beginning of my abusive relationship, was that my boundaries were being crossed. Boundaries are intended to protect you as a valued person in a relationship. There are four major boundaries that abusive people violate because they do not see you as a separate person with rights:
Your right to say no
That simple two letter word “NO” became non-existent to me because I believed I did not have the right to say “NO”. Abusive people don’t listen to you when you say no because they believe they have a right to control you by choosing for you. My appearance changed dramatically, my partner said I looked great in an old grey track suit, no make-up and my hair scraped back, when I looked in the mirror, I wanted to say “NO”, but if he said I looked great – that was cool with me! An abuser does not see you as having the right to have power over your own life. They seek to control you by taking away your right to say “no.”
Your right to have other people in your life
I had convinced myself that my partner was perhaps jealous of my relationship with my family, because (are you ready for this)….. he loved me so much, he wanted me all for himself, it made me feel special – how wrong was I…….Abusive people are threatened by your close relationships with other people and as a result, seek to isolate you from family and friends that support you and speak truth to you about your life. They will be jealous and competitive with anyone in your life that you care about and will either make it difficult for you to spend time with the person or try to get you to doubt that the person cares about you.
Your right not to be battered or hurt emotionally
Anyone who cares about you in a relationship will care when you say you are being hurt. One lady once asked me “When does it become Physical abuse”? I said that’s easy – when you are flat on your back and you start to see “stars”!! What starts out as a push then becomes a slap, then becomes punches. Physical abuse is easier to identify than emotional abuse but nevertheless, if someone is treating you in a way that hurts you, GET OUT, SEEK HELP. Abusive people do not care if they hurt you, in fact, they intend to hurt you.
Your right to have and express your opinions, feelings, and perceptions
Shut up! Did I tell you to speak? This was the order of the day for me. One of the main characteristics of verbal/emotional abuse is the undermining, ridiculing, and denying of your opinions, feelings, and perceptions. The message that I had been told repeatedly all the time was “you are stupid, ignorant, oversensitive, crazy, mean, controlling”. These are labels used to prevent you from being able to hold your truth as yours. Rather than validating you, they use every tactic they can to invalidate you.
Your personal Bill of Rights allows you to say:
· I have the right to refuse to have sex
· I have the right to be treated with respect
· I have the right to say No without feeling guilty or explaining why
· I have the right to leave any situation I don’t like
· I have the right to have and express my own feelings and opinions
· I have the right to be listened to and taken seriously
These rights are for both women and men – heterosexual, lesbian bisexual, gay or transgendered. Each of us has the right to be treated with respect and dignity. One of the ways you can tell if a relationship qualifies as abusive is if these boundaries are repeatedly crossed by a person who doesn’t treat you with love and respect.