Love shouldn’t hurt.
In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2019, please check out this site from the National Domestic Abuse Hotline and this one that details a list of red flags. Criminologist Dr Jane Monckton Smith has detailed the stages of abuse leading to homicide. Please read what she found. And, as always, if you haven’t yet read his book 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 pressures you into a commitment early in the relationship or out-of-nowhere declares his love for you on, like, your second date, isn’t doing it because you’re just that irresistible. He’s getting his hooks into you fast for one of two reasons: 1, he wants your commitment NOW, before his crazy shows up, or 2, he’s already in a relationship. Or maybe both. Don’t believe me? Accelerating the pace of a relationship is one of the most common threads found among abusive relationships.
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 ever 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.
When a 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 “loses his temper” and hits the wall instead of you, or breaks objects that matter to you isn’t doing it because he’s just taking it out on them and not you. He’s already abusing you. And he’s showing you two things: 1, this is what happens when I get mad, so don’t make me mad, and 2, you’re next. It’s just a matter of time.
This. We’re stopping it before it gets to this.
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. A disclaimer of sorts. My posts are very she/he, but I am in no way disregarding that violence happens in non-hetero relationships as well. Sadly, there is a slightly higher rate of violence in LGBTQ relationships. loveisrespect.org has some great additional information and resources if that applies to you.
This. This could happen if you stay.
It doesn’t have to.