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Whenever someone identifies someone else’s relationship as abusive, there is sometimes a connotation that it must always be physical abuse - but that is not always the case. Abuse comes in many shapes and sizes, which is why it’s important to realize the signs, and why it’s important to evaluate your relationship if you are unhappy. If you are experiencing abuse, be it mentally, sexually or physically, there are many avenues you can take to ensure your safety and help you find happiness. Below are some signs of an abusive relationship that may not be quite as clear as others. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you feel as though you might be in an abusive situation, please take the steps to ensure your safety.
An abusive relationship is all about control - an abuser will try and make their partner feel as though they need the relationship to be happy and feel fulfilled, and without it, they will be entirely lost, even though that is far from the case. Oftentimes how people do this is by isolating the victim from their friends and colleagues, so that the only thing in the victim’s universe is their abusive partner. With this, the abuser is making it so that their partner’s sense of identity and independence is diminishing, because there is only one outside influence on their decision-making, which is dangerous and unhealthy.
An abuser will try and eliminate their partner’s interactions with friends in a number of ways. One way, the most obvious, is completely disallowing them to ever go out for leisure. They will argue until they are blue in the face when their partner is making plans to go out - saying disparaging things about the friend group, or claiming that the group is either not good for their partner, or, perhaps, that their friends want to pit the victim against their partner, creating a sense of Us vs. Them - this is also something that the abuser can use in the future to make the victim feel as though they need their partner, because they are the only one on their ‘team’.
As stated before, this is by no means a comprehensive list of every abusive situation, and there are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to evaluating an unhappy relationship. Reading about relationship advice when it comes to abusive situation is a positive first step to bringing your situation to an end. Abuse is a very grey area, and is something that will never be black and white, so it is often very difficult to identify if you are one of the active partners in the relationship. Everything intermingles and plays off of everything else (for example: dependency and gas-lighting share a lot of similar tactics of emotional and psychological manipulation) in order to create a bad situation that is invariably difficult to get out of. If you, or somebody that you love, may be in an abusive relationship, then there are many avenues and support systems available, because unfortunately, this is an extremely prevalent thing to happen in society.
Although relationships are complicated and nuanced, and no two relationships are alike no matter how many similarities they may both share, something to remember is that a healthy situation is a matter of equal moving, well-oiled parts. Everything is about equilibrium, and if your partner is going through a hard time and is frequently upset, it does not necessarily mean that they are abusive, - it may just mean that you have to take on a bit more in the relationship momentarily. But, if there is a consistent load of emotional labour that is making someone feel small and broken, then there is something that needs to be done. It bears repeating: everyone deserves happiness, and everyone deserves to feel loved.
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