Sunday, April 19, 2015

Abusive, Destructive, Controlling Relationships--Part 2 Warning Signs

In continuing my series on abusive relationships I want to talk about the warning signs.

As I mentioned in Part 1, I honestly didn't know the signs of relationship abuse.  It wasn't until my son was DEEP into his situation that I really started to understand.  Later, I had a college class and finally recognized the classic symptoms.  It's important to recognize that the abuse builds up.  It makes sense--who would get into a relationship with someone who starts abusing on the first date?  And again, although men are more likely to abuse women, the reverse is more common than people think. 
Anyone can fall victim to abuse, especially when they don't recognize the danger signs.  I would never have thought it possible that my son would become a victim, he had everything going for him--he was athletic, loving, funny, handsome, and intelligent.  And he was opinionated and didn't mind questioning authority.  He loved being home, having his best friends (and sometimes the entire baseball team!) over for sleepovers, and in almost every family picture he was holding one of his younger siblings.  He loved family. He was independent.  Of all my kids, I would have thought him the LEAST likely to fall prey--which is why I'm so determined to spread the word of the warning signs of relationship abuse. 
Joe LOVED dressing up for spirit days at school
In this photo Lizzy had put his hair into a ton of small braids.
BRA is Boys Rooting Association

I wish I could give proper credit for the information below.  I had it in a folder from college and I've adapted it for this post. 

Five major warning signs:

Charm:  Abusers are often very charming, engaging, thoughtful and charismatic.  In the beginning, they may seem too good to be true.  They might buy extravagant gifts and have heroic stories to share about their amazing life and deeds.  They become the perfect partner and know all the right things to say.  They are often seductive and move the relationship along very quickly, they profess deep love for the victim and push for living together after a short dating relationship. 

Isolation:  Once into the relationship, abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially.  They move the victim geographically away from family and friends.  Social isolation begins with wanting the victim to spend more and more time with him/her and not the victim's family, friends, or co-workers.  The abuser will often get to the point they tell the victim he/she cannot have any contact with family or friends--and they try to convince the victim they are doing it for the victim's sake, along with turning the victim against family and friends through lies and deceit.

Jealousy:  Jealousy is used to control the victim.  He/She constantly accuses the victim of having affairs, outside friendships, or even just thoughts of others.  The abuser is very jealous of anyone the victim spends time with. 

Emotional Abuse:  The goal of emotional abuse is to destroy the victim's self-esteem.  The abuser blames the victim for any problems, puts him/her down, calls him/her names and makes threats against him/her and the victim's family.  The abuser makes the victim feel like it's all the victim's fault.  The abuser often has previous life trauma (real and/or imagined) and they blame their behavior on their "tragedies," finding sympathy in their victim and trying to excuse their abusive behavior.   

Control:  Abusers are very controlled and very controlling people.  In time, the abuser will try to control every aspect of the victim's life: where they go, what they wear, who they talk to.  The abuser will control the money and access to money.  They will try to monitor every phone call/text on the victim's cell phone.  If the abuser becomes upset he/she will blame the victim and have further control by threatening suicide, blackmail, or harm to the victim or victim's loved ones.  If the relationship becomes physically violent it will often start with pushing and then escalate.  The abuser can even create control by encouraging the victim to start using drugs or alcohol and then controlling the source. 
Part 3 will come, but I will have unrelated posts in between.  This is heavy stuff and brings back a lot of negative memories and pain. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine how hard this, but what a great service to people who are not aware. Once again you amaze me with your huge heart!