India is full of stories of women who have been abused – physically, emotionally, socially, sexually, and financially – by their husbands or partners. Sadly, more ‘stories’ make it to the various soap operas rather than to the policeman’s FIR records. The poor and second-rate treatment meted out to women till date is cited as the main cause – wherein the woman internalizes the abuse and even begins to consider it mandatory or ‘deserved’. On the other hand, many men are falling into the trap of giving in to abusive women in relationships – women who use even children and sex as means of threatening the husband into getting their way. People fall into abusive relationships and cannot get out of them because they do not read the earliest signs that could spell danger. They keep hoping against hope that things will become better and that the abusive behavior is just a passing phase rather than a serious character flaw. As the wise and learned always say, read the signs, one should be able to recognise an abusive relationship and be able to nip it in the bud. Here are some tell tale signs of an abusive relationship.
How To Recognise Abusive Relationships
Here are some telltale signs of abusive relationships:
Big Me, Little You
An abusive partner is usually insecure and low on self-esteem. He or she is incapable of feeling better about oneself without belittling or demeaning their partner (you). Often they may belittle you in front of their family members or friends. They may hold you responsible for everything that goes wrong with them – whether in professional, personal, or even social life. They will constantly criticize your attire, taste in food, clothes, interests, music, films; in short, just about anything. You will increasingly begin to fear expressing your opinion freely, or will refrain from it, just to avoid confrontation. This is perhaps the first such sign – not considering you an equal partner in the relationship.
“Who Was That Over The Phone?”
The same insecurity that drives an abusive partner to belittle you, will also cause them to be constantly suspicious of each of your actions; only made worse by a twisted sense of guilt about the hurt they are causing you. They will show signs that at first may seem solicitous, caring, or even ‘sweet’ – like dropping by at your workplace to ‘check on you’. This behavior will soon escalate into constant accusations about flirting with people of the opposite sex, constantly questioning you about who you were talking to over the phone ‘for so long’ and also keeping a tab on the amount of time it takes you to get an outdoor errand or chore done. Such partners will also try to sneak into your personal email account or even go to the extent of hacking your password to your social networking profile, just so as to see who you are in touch with and what you said to each one among them. They will surely suspect you of even a polite smile to the milkman or the neighbourhood Mrs. Sharma, for the fear that you might reveal the hurt that your partner caused you.
The abusive partner will try to control every aspect of your relationship and convince you by saying that it is for ‘your own good’. They might even tightly control your finances, open joint accounts and give you no access over them and will allow you only a stipulated amount of money regularly. They see money and finances as one of the many ways in which they can maintain control over you. At times, they will make you believe that you are stupid or spendthrift in order to justify their control over the money that you earn. Another sign you will notice is that a large amount of money is transferred from the joint account that you share to your partner’s account or that he or she has drawn money from your joint account a little too frequently.
No Mommy, No Daddy
Afraid that your parents might know about the treatment you are being subjected to, an abusive partner will not allow you to talk to your parents, family members, or friends over the phone, have them visit you or let you visit them. They will want to own you in every way possible and will not intend to ‘share’ you with anyone. Though this might sound sweet to many, it is rather unhealthy if the spouse or partner is suspicious of the people who you may have spent most of your formative years with and should actually be cherishing rather than avoiding.
Is It Me?
These three words, if they ever cross your mind are the last nail in the coffin. The abusive as well as manipulative partner will convince you into believing that it is you who is crazy, overreacting or whatever else. You will find yourself becoming more and more numb to your own feelings and even try to console yourself with false reassurances like “maybe I deserved it”, “it could have been worse”, “there are others who suffer much more than me” or “it’s just one random incident, he/she won’t do it again” and “he/she is just stressed out.” All these are very convenient excuses given by those who are abused by their partners. If you have also fallen into this trap, it is high time you came out of it.