The Warning Signs of Abuse in Your Relationship

July 9, 2016

Sometimes, there are elements that can harm and knock a relationship out of balance, and though they may be played off as insignificant…they really do matter. Even in the most romantic of relationships you need to keep an eye out for certain signs that may indicate the potential for or the beginning of serious abuse.

Courtship is one of the sweetest times for a couple. Everything is perfect and if it’s not, the problem is glossed over or sugarcoated so that it appears to be perfect. You discover new details about the other person and rough edges are buffed away: we change, we are changed by others, we argue and make up. And due to this very reason, abuse can pass unnoticed.

What is abuse

Abuse can be defined as violent, constant and progressive degradation that one person exerts over another, to the point of even destroying them, be it directly or indirectly. In relationships, there is a subtle line between worrying about the other person and common discussions related to abuse. The first thing we should be clear about is what we’re referring to when we talk about abuse.

When we talk about domestic abuse, we’re referring to the kind of abuse that happens in relationships. And we’re including the abuse a man could exert on a woman as well as the kind a woman could exert on a man. Because although this seems obvious, it’s something that people tend to forget and remains an invisible issue.

man covering girls mouth

Types of abuse

When it comes to abuse, two basic types can be distinguished, though they tend to occur simultaneously. In fact, in most cases of physical abuse, there is also some psychological abuse taking place. Up next we will define each one of these types:

  • Physical abuse: it consists of attacking the other person’s body, either with the abuser’s own body or the use of objects. This is the more evident of the two types due to the traces it leaves on the body.
  • Psychological abuse: this type of abuse is much more complicated to detect than the first, because it implies a form of silent and piercing violence that entraps the other person in a web of duties and a lack of independence that keeps them from doing what they really want to do, making them feel worthless.

Warning signs: when a relationship turns sour

How can we know when our significant other is crossing the subtle line we mentioned earlier that separates romanticism and abuse? Although there are obviously not any clear-cut rules established, because every relationship is forged differently based on the personalities of each of its members, there are general guidelines that can help you detect these warning signs:

  • Jealousy. In a certain way one can feel proud when their significant other shows signs of jealousy, but you have to be able to distinguish common jealousy from the pathological kind. When the question “Who were you with?” becomes constant, when you discover them checking your phone or going through your personal things without permission in search for “clues”, that’s when you need to hit the breaks because pathological jealousy generates violence.
  • Social isolation. This situation doesn’t arise suddenly, it happens progressively. The abused person slowly starts isolating themselves from their family and friends, almost unknowingly in most cases, due to the strategies used by the abuser.
  • Piercing comments about what they can do, sarcastic remarks in private or in front of other people about their significant other’s ability to perform certain tasks. All of these comments place the person in an inferior and insecure type of situation.
  • Controlling decisions about their clothes or other things that are typically considered to be personal decisions, and showing aggressiveness if these preferences aren’t followed.
  • Messages that make them feel guilty: I would die without you, if you leave me I’ll kill myself…
  • The first slap does count. It goes further than the typical fight in which you say more than you meant to say. When their reaction during a fight is to slap you, your warning signs should go off.
  • Observing very sudden mood swings in the other person and being in a constant state of tension because everyday trifles lead to anger, this is another thing you should keep an eye out for.
naked woman covered in hand prints

How to face this problem

As a general rule of thumb, people who suffer from abuse tend to hide in silence and insecurity, letting themselves slowly be overcome by fear, until they reach the point of feeling completely worthless.

The ideal thing would be to talk and explain how their treatment makes you feel and ask for help. In fact, many times in order to save the relationship you need to see a specialist to guide the both of you through the process of coping with the reality of what is happening to you. But when none of this works, although it will be painful, there is only one solution: end the relationship.

We have to learn to let go of people and relationships that cause us discomfort and restrict our freedom. And above all, be wary of the first warning signs of abuse in order to face and confront the situation as soon as possible.