Are You Mistaking Abuse For Love?

Last updated 22 May 2019 . 1 min read

abusive relationship abusive relationship

We are all hungry for love. Among Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need for love is third in our primary needs. However, in that search for love, we accept various manifestations of love, some of which may, in fact, be detrimental to our being. The ones which do more damage than good! In such circumstances, it is important that we spot the difference between love and abuse and rush out of the door as soon as possible!

I am aware of women who endure the abuse mistaking it for true love. So, first things first how to identify what counts as emotional abuse.    

Signs Of Emotional Abuse

#1. Make jokes that are humiliating or condescending towards you:

And this would be a regular occurrence and would not stop even in front of friends or family.  

#2. Being jealous and overprotective (i.e. wanting to know where you are constantly):

The urge to know constantly about your whereabouts is a sign of the partner’s inherent insecurity. And while there is insecurity in most relationships, one that makes you feel suffocated and keeping a track of your every movement may be a sign of the relationship bordering abuse.

#3. Prevent you from seeing your family or friends:

Family and friends existed even before the relationship did and they are important to you. But if meeting with them is a problem with your partner and every time you talk about meeting with them it leads to an argument, it may not be a healthy relationship.

#4. Coerce you to participate in sexual activities:

Respect is a very important part of any relationship and consent is too. So while persuasion to try out new things in the bedroom is very normal but forcing one to indulge in an act, he/she is not comfortable with is not ok.

#5. Act superior and entitled:

Some examples include treating you like you are inferior, blaming you for their mistakes and shortcomings, doubting everything you say and attempting to prove you wrong. The abuser may tell you that your opinions, ideas, values and thoughts are stupid, illogical or "do not make sense. They may have certain behavioural patterns like using sarcasm when interacting with you and acting like they are always right and know what is best and are smarter.

#6. Emotionally abusive people invalidate you:

Undermining, dismissing, or distorting your perceptions or your reality. They refuse to accept your feelings by trying to define how you should feel. Requiring you to explain and explain and explain how you feel. Accusing you of being "too sensitive," "too emotional," or "crazy". They may refuse to acknowledge or accept your opinions or ideas as valid. Dismissing your requests, wants, and needs as ridiculous or unmerited may be a part of their attitude. Suggesting that your perceptions are wrong or that you cannot be trusted by saying things like "you're blowing this out of proportion" or "you exaggerate". Accusing you of being selfish, needy or materialistic if you express your wants or needs.

Here's what you should ask yourself - "He Always Puts Me Down - Am I In An Abusive Relationship?"

Facets Of Emotional Abuse

Abuse takes various forms and we may not be able to come out of the deluge of emotions and thoughts that strikes us. Our partner who is being abusive may feed us ideas and concepts which seem reasonable and further lock us in in the cycle of abuse.

  • Abuse is not normal or OK. You may think that abuse is a sign that your partner loves you. It’s not. Your partner may love you, but abuse is not a sign of that love. You may think that romantic love is passionate and that physical abuse is a sign of passion. It’s not. A healthy relationship is one in which you feel safe and has no physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse.
  • Domestic violence often starts as emotional abuse and becomes physical later. It’s important to ask for help as soon as possible. The abuser will keep increasing his or her domain of abuse, seeing what all is acceptable to the victim.
  • Your partner may try to make you think the violence is your fault. It’s not. You cannot make someone hurt or mistreat you. Your partner is responsible for his or her own behaviour. Violence and abuse are never the victim’s fault.
  • Abuse can happen to anyone. Some women and men believe that abuse is not something that could happen to them. Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of whether you have a college education, which neighbourhood you live in, your age, your gender, your sexual orientation, or whether you’re married, dating, or single.
  • Your partner may be very good to you at times. Most abusers have a pattern of abuse followed by making it up to you or making you feel special and loved. It’s most likely that the abuse will happen again. Abuse usually gets worse over time, not better.
  • You cannot help or fix an abusive partner. It’s not your responsibility to convince a violent or abusive partner to get help. Your responsibility is your own safety and the safety of any children in the household. Some abusive partners say they will get help as a way to “make it up to you” after violence. But getting help does not always mean the violence will stop.
  • Intimate partner violence is linked to serious physical and emotional problems. The longer it continues, the more damage it can cause.

What Can You Do About Abuse?

First and foremost it is important to know that a particular relationship is abusive. It can be a parent-child relationship, a husband and wife relationship, girlfriend- boyfriend or girlfriend-girlfriend relationship or maybe even a friend.

Here's how you can Deal with Your Angry Husband Without Sacrificing Your Dignity

A relationship or an equation which makes you feel small, neglected or lowers your confidence is not worth your time. While it is important to invest in personal growth and have people around who would give you honest feedback, but that would never harm you in the long run.

Number 1 then is identifying that you are being abused.

Once you know you are being abused, talk to your abuser. Give them an opportunity and the benefit of doubt.

Tell them how you are feeling and how they are making you feel. Tell them it is difficult for the relationship to survive if the present conditions continue. Tell them what they are doing wrong. Maybe that person is undergoing stress and needs a doctor for treatment. However, this is only valid when the abuser is not physically violent.  

Number 2 talk to your abuser

If things don’t seem to be improving despite the intervention, then it is time for you to walk out of the relationship.  Once you accept that you need to move out of the relationship it’s important that you document abuse. Documenting abuse is incredibly important if you’re married or have children—you’ll need that evidence later to ensure that you and your children receive adequate protection. In addition to this, many abusers seem like wonderful people to the outside world.

If you can dispel that illusion, you may protect others from abuse. Documentation can be as simple as a series of journal entries describing and dating each instance of abuse. Going farther, audio and video recordings provide even more concrete evidence. If you end up facing your abuser in court, you’ll have all you need to get a restraining order, to win custody of children, or to simply put the abuser in jail.

Number 3 Document your abuse (if it reaches extreme levels)

If the abuse has reached a level of violence both physical and emotional that you are worried about your life, then you need to alert your family and friends. Unfortunately, the first thing many abusers do is to cut their victims off from their supports, weakening them through isolation. The abuser’s voice, then, becomes the only voice in the victim’s life.

Don’t let this happen to you—all of us need multiple people in our lives to fill multiple roles. No one can be your everything, although an abuser will claim to be.

Number 4 is to inform your friends and family

You would need psychological and support from the authorities if you are recovering from a case of extreme physical and emotional violence. Alert the authorities and take help. Approach a friend/family member, call a helpline number or see a therapist. You could contact Shakti Shalini whose helpline number is 1091.

Number 5 is getting help

Having specified the initial signs of abuse and what to do in case of abuse, it is important that we also know that relationships are hard work. They are not simple. Two individuals who love each other and decide to commit, have a long road ahead of them. Falling in love is the simplest bit. No two individuals are the same and to find a wavelength where you are comfortable with each other’s quirks and habits takes a long time.

Coming from this let us also discuss - Is Your Home Safe From Abuse?

What Is Not Abuse?

#1. Not reaching up to your standard of romance (Bollywood’s unreasonable idea of romance):

Let us first say that Hindi movies or movies, in general, present a much-distorted idea of romance. They have caused so much trouble in our personal lives because we only have them as a benchmark. We compare our birthday celebration to celebrations shown in movies or the idea of sparks flying every time you meet your “one true love”. That doesn’t happen and it’s an unreasonable expectation to have from your partner.

#2. A change in the dynamic of the relationship (Personal stress):

Life throws curveballs at us and the most affected by it is first us and then our relationship. Because the relationship is such an intimate space where you can be yourself, any change in mood or temperament impacts it directly. In such circumstances, it is important to understand your headspace first.

If you are undergoing stress, you may be already feeling suffocated and your partner’s prompt may just push you over the edge for no fault of theirs. So before declaring your partner to be emotionally abusive, understand your own mental stress. Talk to a friend or see a therapist if you can’t figure it out on your own.    

#3. Arguments from Insecurities:

As Humans, we are inherently insecure- about our looks, our clothes, our intelligence, our relationships etc. And we all are, and we don’t need to be ashamed of it. We are in this together. Our insecurities affect our relationships in a big way, we may be insecure that our partner will leave us, or he/she is dating someone else, or maybe they are having a sexual relationship outside of the relationship. However, we need to take a deep breath and understand that we are stifling the partner with our worries.

We are becoming the abusers by burdening our partner with our insecurities. Having a conversation and stating all your worries and discussing them may sometimes help. But we all need to reign in our horses when our mind starts to gallop in the field of overthinking.

Life can sometimes be really difficult to understand. It becomes overwhelming to deal with. In such times our breath is our best friend. Wash your face, have a glass of water and calm yourself down by taking deep breaths.

Once you have a clearer headspace, you can begin to reason better. Put yourself at a distance from your own life and then think about the happenings as objectively as possible. While physical abuse from either of the two parties involved should never be accepted, emotional abuse can be different for different people.

People are sensitive to different stimuli and we need to take a moment to think that the behaviour we are being subjected to, does it qualify as abuse. And I am definitely not addressing the kind we see in the movie ‘Provoked’, everyone would know that definitely qualifies as abuse!

I am talking about at a more elementary level. Rest, if you are sure, then don’t back off. You are supported by your family and friends and we here at SHEROES are always standing in support.

Vishakha Singh
Social worker, freelance writer, dreamer and full time health enthusiast. I believe that one has to choose her battles and I have chosen mine - women's rights.

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