When most people think about domestic violence and abusive relationships, the picture forms of physical abuse. While bruising and black eyes are certainly indicators of relationship abuse, the fact is that many abusive behaviors are not physical at all. In our Troy couples counseling programs, we deal with a number of couples who have relationship addiction or some form of abuse in their homes. Here we have listed some non-physical signs of abusive relationships that you can watch out for in the future.
This warning sign of relationship abuse doesn’t always happen overnight. It is a gradual process of slowly isolating yourselves from the outside world. You start staying at home on nights you used to hang out with your friends because your spouse wants to spend more time with you. You opt for a date night at home rather than going to a restaurant because you just want to keep to yourselves. You both start ignoring calls from friends and family members until you find only one other person in your social life – your spouse.
There is nothing wrong with having a strong social connection with your spouse. In an abusive situation though, the abuser will use social isolation as a method of control. The less support you have from others, the more reliant you are on your spouse. By setting healthy boundaries in your relationship and maintaining a large support system, you will both be able to lead happier lives.
One of the biggest tactics used in verbal abuse is belittling. The abuser will make hurtful comments to lower the victim’s self-esteem, thereby making the victim feel less desirable to other people. This also ensures that the abuser remains the superior person in the relationship. If your spouse is constantly putting you down for the way you look, the things you say, or the way you act, you are probably in an abusive relationship.
Does your spouse determine when you do certain activities and where you’re allowed to go throughout the day? This process may start off slowly with basic questions about where you are going and why. Eventually, the other person in the relationship will begin to make decisions for you, to the point that you feel the need to consult him or her for every move you make. Should you communicate with your spouse about where you’re going and major decisions in your life? Of course. Nevertheless, you should still be able to stand on your own and make your own choices, with the support of your spouse.
In an abusive relationship, arguments are often one-sided. The same person always ends up being the one to apologize, regardless of how the disagreement started. Small fights and tiffs are completely normal in a relationship, but they should come with some sort of balance. If you have gotten to the point where you feel that you are always wrong or not allowed to voice your opinion in your relationship, you may need to seek couples counseling to work through your issues.
It may seem cute for your spouse to leave you to surprise messages in your car or on your desk, but you have to be careful about how far that matter goes. There is a difference between passively thinking about someone and physically stalking them. If your spouse is following you around to keep track of your every move, that shows that he or she has trust issues. It also indicates that the person wants to feel in control and wants you to know that you are being watched at all times. Whether you are married or just entering a relationship with someone, make sure he or she understands personal boundaries and abides by them.