This. We are stopping it before it gets to this.
First, a disclaimer of sorts. These posts are very she/he, but I am in no way disregarding that violence happens in non-hetero relationships as well. In any case case, the principles are pretty much the same, and in every case, follow your intuitions. And, there are plenty of places to find information on warning signs of future violence, and ways to get out of a relationship once the violence has begun. Please check out this site from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline and this one that details the complete list of warning signs according to Gavin deBecker. And, as always, if you haven’t yet read The Gift of Fear, what the hell are you doing? Stop reading this damn blog and go do that now.
Welcome back. I’m going to focus here on dispelling the biggest myths of relationship pre-violence, the ones that are most likely to be overlooked by us women, who spend our lives making excuses for our guy, ‘cause, you know, we loooooove him. And he can be so sweet! Here goes:
A guy who expresses jealously or possessiveness over where you go, how you spend your time, and whom you are with isn’t doing it because he “just wants to make sure you’re okay.” This is a tricky one, because possessiveness can feel like positive attention, as in, “he must care about me to express such concern about everything I do and everywhere I go!” Nope. It isn’t care. It is control. This is the same thinking that is convinced Joe just looooves Beck on Netflix’s “You.” (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.) Also, excellent show. Great book. Hope season 2 is as good as season 1.
If you find yourself thinking something like, “I’m sure things will calm down once he learns to trust me,” heads up: No they won’t and no he won’t. Repeat after me: It won’t get any better. In fact, where you are right now is likely the best it will ever be.
A guy who disparages your friends and family and tries to separate you from them isn’t doing that because HE loves you more than THEY do. When this guy says, “Why do you need them? You have me,” he is isolating you so that you will depend solely on him and have no one to turn to when things turn to s**t. This pre-abusive behavior is one of the most insidious, because it relies on the fact that you won’t talk about your fear or worries about him with your friends. A guy, a grown-up guy, who *truly* loves you will support your other relationships, up to AND including spending time away from him.
A guy who blames you for everything that goes wrong in his life, refuses to take responsibility for himself and his actions, including his temper and even violent behavior, isn’t doing it because you “made” him angry. You didn’t. He got angry. He decided to act on it. He made the choice to commit violence. How do we know this? Because to NOT commit violence? Yep, that’s also a choice.
A guy who expresses contempt for what you do and things you enjoy isn’t doing it because you really should just give up that stupid hobby as it is a complete waste of time.
A guy who insults you or name-calls isn’t doing it because he’s right about you and you are worthless, stupid, and useless. He’s doing it because he knows, deep inside, that HE is the one who is worthless, stupid, and useless.
He is taking away parts of your life and identity, little by little, piece by piece, action by action, word by word. He is taking ownership of another human being: YOU.
Here’s the truth: You don’t have to let him. Read this, Reach out. Get help.
Remember this, my brave Voyagers: Don’t stay because you’re scared of what could happen if you leave. Leave because you’re scared of what will happen if you stay.
With love & strength sent your way,
P.S. Be sure to read part two of Preventing your Own Murder. And stay tuned for my next post on Preventing Murder: This One’s for the Guys.
This. This could happen if you stay.
It doesn’t have to.