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The many signs of abuse in a relationship

May. 30, 2017
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Abuse is a word that everyone knows of, but not every person knows when it happens. It is sometimes hard to decipher when “playing around” takes a turn for the worse; this is especially seen in relationships. It can come in several forms such as physical, emotional and sexual. Although each occurs in different situations, they can all leave marks on the soul that can take years to overcome, sometimes involving methods such as therapy, and can also lead to mental attributes such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are signs to look for that can help to tell if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship:

Physical/Domestic Abuse
To cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm to another person.

Biting, kicking, hitting, spitting, punching - these are just some types of physical abuse that may occur behind closed doors.

Bruises – bruises that can be visibly seen and the person is unable to explain, in fear or embarrassment of the situation and what could happen if something was said.

Threats of Physical Harm – Raising a fist as if they’re about to punch you, is one particular sign of this. If this is occurring but you haven’t actually been hit yet, you need to talk to someone because the abuse can only get worse.

If any of these occur, at any time, then it should be addressed immediately by contacting the proper authorities. This is often times difficult to do; exposing abusers can be dangerous not just for the person being abused, but also any other friends, family or even acquaintances of the person being abused.

Emotional Abuse
Any act including isolation, confinement, humiliation, verbal assault or anything similar, discouraging one’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth.

Bullying by Swearing/Yelling/Insults/Blaming – Swearing, mixed with yelling, name-calling and insults, is one of the most obvious ways to distinguish emotional abuse. It’s also important to note that an abusive lover will never accept personal blame for anything, and will do anything to make the victim feel as if it’s their fault all the time. The put-downs can affect the person by making them feel worthless, and lost.

Ignoring/Isolation/Humiliation/Controlling – Ignoring someone’s basic needs, comfort or even presence can make the person feel unwanted; in relationships this could simply mean ignoring a text. Isolation and humiliation go hand-in-hand. Considering the environment, the significant other may single out the person to make themselves feel better by belittling and singling out their partner. Controlling behavior such as denial to hang out with friends, or never talking to your family and only spending time with them can lead to complete codependence. 

Denial of Abuse to Said Person – this is the one that is the hardest to overcome, and may take quite a while. The abuser may blame the victim, saying it’s their fault for the actions when it’s the abuser that make the victim feel smaller and smaller.

Emotional abuse can be an especially vicious on-going cycle. Normally in a relationship it’s to show dominance, with the abuser often feeling guilty for the consequences of their actions, but rather than changing their behavior, the abuser will make excuses. Depending on how long this continues, the victim may start to overthink and expect the emotional abuse on a daily basis. If you or someone you know feels threatened, worthless or trapped help is always available and coping is possible. And remember, you can always get yourself out of a temporary situation, and emotionally abusive relationships can certainly be considered temporary; you don’t need to stay in a relationship that isn’t positive or supportive. 

Sexual Abuse
Unwanted or forced sexual events occurring without the victim’s consent.

Depression/Anxiety – this can occur once sexual abuse has taken place because they are unsure what to do or how to cope with the abuse. Many people who have been sexually abused don’t feel like themselves afterwards and are more prone to anxiety in social situations.

Self-Injury – Victims may turn to this because they think less of themselves after sexual abuse has taken place. Injury inflicted by the victim can be things like cutting, burning, starving, etc. 

Persistent Physical Pain – Pain while passing bowel movement or while urinating need to be addressed immediately as this could be a consequence of sexual abuse.

If you are in a relationship and are forced to have sex, please seek help. Sexual abuse, also known as rape in some cases, is not okay. If you believe you or someone you know were sexually abused please see a doctor as soon as possible or talk to a trusted friend, adult, etc. about options you/they can take for the sake of health.

Overall, these signs should help people detect abuse that’s happening to themselves or to their peers - abuse is something that should be addressed but sometimes never is, and abuse in relationships isn’t any different. It is possible to get help after or during any of these situations, with websites such as:

Cover Image by Sita McVay