When two people love, respect, and trust one another, relationships can be a wonderful, fulfilling, beneficial thing. However, when any of these key components are missing, relationships can slowly or quickly escalate into unhealthy situations. Because romantic relationships are so personal and intimate, they have the power to either be wonderfully good or really bad.
There are many reasons why someone may find themselves in an abusive relationship. Sometimes, someone has never had an example of a healthy relationship, and they descend into abusive patterns and cycles they witnessed growing up. Other times people are forced into abusive relationships that they never wanted and felt like that cannot get out. Still, other times people start in a good relationship that progressively becomes worse. Abusive relationships often don't have blatant warning signs right off the bat—it is a progression that may develop over weeks, months, or even years.
One of the tough things about abusive relationships is that unless you know what signs to look for, it's not always clear to the abused—or even the abuser—that the relationship is unhealthy. Unfortunately, it is common for someone who is being abused to believe that it's their own fault and that they somehow "deserve" the abuse. You are valued and important. There are ways to get help and leave this situation. It's important to know that you're never to blame for the way an abusive person treats you. And there is never an excuse to abuse another person; physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse are all wrong on every level.
If you see any of these signs in your own (or someone else's) relationship, it may be abusive or heading that direction. An abusive partner may:
- Tell you that you can never do anything right
- Show extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Keep you or discourage you from seeing friends or family members
- Insult, demean or shame you with put-downs
- Control every penny spent in the household
- Control or take your money, or refuse to give you money for necessary expenses
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you
- Control who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Prevent you from making your own decisions
- Tell you that you are a bad parent or threaten to harm or take away your children
- Prevent you from working or attending school
- Destroy your property or threaten to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressure you to have sex when you don't want to or do things sexually, you're not comfortable with
- Pressure you to use drugs or alcohol
- (For more information, check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-abuse/.)
Remember, abuse is not always physical. Love should not bruise your body—but it also shouldn't bruise your heart, mind, confidence, or self-worth. If you are experiencing abuse in a relationship, reach out to us at Pregnancy Resource Center. There are many other community resources we can connect you with to get you the help you need. There ARE people who care, and there IS hope.