We all have gotten those red flags. Those little feelings that something just doesn’t fit right on a specific level. Someone says something. Someone does something, however small. Yet we shrug it off. We let someone yell at a dog. We let someone punch the air in front of our faces. Then as time goes on, those things begin to build up to a point that you cannot shrug them off any longer. You feel embarrassed you just got drunk-slapped in front of your friends. You feel humiliated because of the scene that was made at your best friend’s wedding. You feel vengeful after the thrown lit cigarette in the face. You cannot stomach the thought of what will happen next. Sometimes, you are seriously blinded and dis-empowered, and others in your life start to notice and try to warn you.
You would think that I would know better. I am bright, have plans for a future, and have not only heard plenty of stories about abuse from friends and family, but have lived it as a child. But I also suffer from periods of depression, low self esteem, and consider myself a loving spiritual person. All of which make me a perfect target for abusers and developing emotionally abusive relationships. I may have a history and know what it looks and smells like a mile away in other relationships, but it always takes me a while to recognize abuse in my own personal relationships (and to allow myself to see it for what it is).
This is probably because #1. I would never allow myself to become the victim ever again. #2. I can be pretty forgiving. #3. I always try to see the best in people #4. Believe fervently that everyone has flaws (and we all do) #5. Tend to not always listen to my own advice.
Does this sound familiar?
It doesn’t matter how attractive you are, how smart you are, or even how old you are. It does not matter what gender you are, what religion you have. It does not matter what your sexuality is. Women and men of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and walks of life can find themselves a victim of abuse.
Based on the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics in June 2013, the estimated number of domestic violence incidents (REPORTED) was 960,000 and the number of children who witness domestic violence annually was upwards of 6 Million.
Think of all of the incidents that go unreported.
Think of also how high the number would go if more men reported if there wasn’t societal stigma.
Now, that is just physical domestic violence. What about other forms of abuse: neglect, mistreatment, psychological, and sexual? The numbers would blow our minds.
To clarify: I define abuse as follows:
Abuse (NOUN): any single act or pattern of violent and coercive behavior used to maintain power and control over a person, animal, or other living organism by inflicting dominance, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, blame, pain, fear, or harm while minimizing and denying the said act occurred.
This may include one or more of the following: physical hitting, choking, slapping, pushing, verbal/texting bullying, derogatory name calling, mind games, degradation, humiliation, manipulation, neglect, isolation, sexual assault, or act of utilizing animate/inanimate objects as weapons with malicious intent.
Do you feel you are in a bad relationship? So how do you know the warning signs of an emotionally abusive relationship? A non-profit resource called the Help Guide provides a list of potential signs which may be found here. Check out the following warning signs below from Health Central that you may be in an abusive relationship. One major point to make that stands to reason is:
if your boyfriend/girlfriend, partner or spouse is emotionally abusive, then it might not be long before they become physically abusive. This is how abuse generally evolves. And this is exactly what happened to me in a previous relationship. Here are some of the signs to look for:
1. Isolates you from friends and family: If someone truly cares for you, they understand that you have a life outside of them which includes friends and family. They want you to spend time with others because it is mentally healthy and good for you. The emotionally abusive spouse or significant other wants you all to themselves and will make efforts to do just that. My boyfriend didn’t want me spending time with my family and he especially didn’t want me hanging out with friends. He would insult my friends whenever they came over or would sulk if I spent any time with them. It became a situation where I had to sneak out to see friends. I began to feel like a criminal for doing normal things.
2. Is verbally abusive: If someone is calling you derogatory names and then says that they are just joking, this is no joke. They mean to hurt you and keep you in line. One way to get away with it is for the abuser to blame you, saying that you need to lighten up or that you are too sensitive. You are not too sensitive; you are feeling in your gut that this is not the way you should be treated. But abusers have a way of making you think that this is normal behavior and that it is you who has the problem. I was called every swear word in the book and sadly came to expect it.
3. Blames others for his problems: Nothing is their fault. If he/she throws a tantrum to get his way, you provoked it. If he/she attacks you verbally, it was because of something you did. Everything has a reason and none of these reasons include them being responsible for themself.
4. Alcohol and drug use: All abusers do not use drugs or alcohol but a lot do. My boyfriend was addicted to drugs and his behavior was highly erratic because of it. I never knew what to expect from him from one day to the next because of his addiction.
5. Does things to instill fear: In addition to my boyfriend’s involvement with drugs, he was also into collecting fire arms. He would show them to me and make it known that he wasn’t afraid to use them. Once he became enraged with me and drove me to a bad part of town at night and told me to get out of the car. I stood there not knowing if he would come back. After about a half an hour of driving around and watching my fear he opened the car door and laughingly told me to get back in. If you feel fear around your significant other or spouse then there is something very wrong.
6. Punishes you for spending time away: This goes along with the isolation technique but should you actually go off and spend time away, he/she will make you pay for it. One day I went with my boyfriend to an amusement park and brought along my best female friend. He was not happy and let me know it. My friend stuck up for me when my boyfriend ordered me to ride only the rides he liked. She pretty much told him that she and I were going to ride something I liked. He sulked and was quiet the rest of the day but when my friend went home then he became enraged and wouldn’t let me out of the car until he had called me every name in the book.
7. Expects you to wait on them like a servant: The abusive man or woman goes through life feeling entitled to be treated like a king. And he or she wants you as thier willing servant. I was holding down two jobs and going to college yet my boyfriend expected me to do everything for him and with no help. We didn’t have a washer and dryer in our apartment so I had to go to the laundromat which was more than several blocks away. I took our clothes in a cart most people would use for groceries. Despite the fact that he had a car, he wouldn’t drive me this short distance. And then, you guessed it, he would criticize the way I did his laundry.
8. Is extremely jealous of all aspects of your life: One of the major traits of someone who is abusive is their jealousy. This not only involves being jealous of other people, but being jealous of your dreams and aspirations. One day when I was studying for an exam for college, I told my boyfriend I didn’t have time to wait on him. Infuriated, he grabbed my books and threw them out of our third floor window. It doesn’t even have to be another person to provoke their jealousy. Your goals in life can fill an abuser with rage if it takes away their control over you.
9. Controls you through emotions: An abuser is a grand manipulator. They will sulk, threaten to leave, and emotionally punish you for not going along with their idea of how things should be. An abuser will try to make you feel guilty any time you exert your will and assertiveness of what is right for you. At times they will appear to be sorry and loving when you declare that you have had enough. You might see pleading and even tears as well as proclamations that they will change. This “remorse” doesn’t last long though and when they feel secure that they have you back, the abuse begins again.
10. They get physical: If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, there is a good chance that eventually things may get physical. It may start off with things that you may brush off as not “really” being physical abuse like pulling your hair, pushing or shoving you, or grabbing you so hard that you bruise. These are the warning signs that things can easily escalate. If your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse has an explosive temper and you have seen them react with violence before, as in breaking things, punching holes in the wall, getting into altercations with others then it is only a matter of time before it is your body he is hitting.
How can you turn this around? Dump the creep!
I know it can be hard. I know it can be scary. You may feel that as a result of this relationship that you have no one else to turn to. BUT YOU DO. There will always be friends/family who will understand because they too have experienced it. If you are completely with out this resource, there are incredible resources in your community. That is what the police and hotlines are for.
“… you don’t have to wait for someone to treat you bad repeatedly. All it takes is once, and if they get away with it that once, if they know they can treat you like that, then it sets the pattern for the future.” ― Jane Green, Bookends
Make and take the necessary steps towards your safety and health! Because yes, you may be a spiritual person, but that does not make you a door mat.
“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox
This does not mean you have to shut yourself off from love for fear of repeating the same mistakes.
“Yes, I will love again. And, yes, I will always love you. But just know with every time I think of you, I will also remember the tears I have cried. My heart may be broken, but its seeds are worth saving. And its next blooming, oh its next blooming, will be the Universe of Universes for all to smell.” ― From Me to You
One of the first things that happens when you finally “get rid of the creep,” whether male or female, is that you reclaim your personal power.
Your own autonomy. Your own sovereignty. Your own spirit.
All of which make it excellent to focus on you and what you can do to make your Self happy and loved! Sandy Seeber has a wonderful post on her blog Core and Vision.
I believe in You. You have the courage.
Need some more advice?
Check out these two videos with Teal Scott, who founded Teal Eye LLC, an umbrella company that enables ideas, goals and ventures aimed at positive world change. In the years to come, Teal Eye LLC will encompass programs, centers, companies and products in the areas of justice reform, education, end of life care, self help, healing, parenting, integrative medicine, food industry reform and spirituality (to name a few). It is the intention of Teal Scott, The Spiritual Catalyst, to inspire others to explore the incorporeal, eternal nature of their true selves, knowing that this type of exploration will enable an individual to become the conscious leader and creator of their own life.
10 Tips For A Successful Relationship by Teal Scott
- Cultivate unconditional love instead of attachment.
- Cultivate love for yourself.
- Work to discover and release your fears relative to relationships.
- Communicate completely.
- Stay on the same page. What do you want? What do you need? Do your changeable desires align or go in opposite directions?
- Do not get specific about who you want to be in a relationship with.
- Start to recognize and begin to heal your love reincarnation.
- Work to change the decisions that you have made based on experiences that you’ve had as well as those actions that those decisions cause you to carry out.
- Ask for what you want and need.
- Feed people love every single day by feeding them the three A’s: Attention, Affection, and Appreciation (via The Love Language of Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time or Gifts)