As hard as it may be being in an abusive relationship, coming out and even recognising the relationship for what it is, is no easy matter.
At the same time it is also important to note that the abuse emerging in a relationship will not be loud and bashful, it will not be wearing a label and screaming abuse at you.
An abuser will always at first take their time with you, test the waters to see what they can get away with, and slowly try to break away the bricks of your boundaries in order to get you at your most vulnerable state.
Understanding that you are in an abusive relationship is not a reflection of your weakness or stupidity, rather it is the audacity of the perpetrator to have taken advantage of you.
For the relationship to get to a point where the abuse has taken over, there can many steps the abuser takes to ensure that they can rely on you to keep holding on the bond you have with them despite the drastic measures they may take to exploit you.
They will begin by investing so much of themselves into the relationship and into you so that the picture that has been painted is the one you will try to hold on to despite the changes that will come later on.
The changes can be subtle or obvious, big or small but they will always be constant. Various approaches may be taken, requests worded differently but the intention will always be the same.
They might be in a rush to take the relationship to the next level, but you will need to ask yourself are you comfortable with the pace the relationship is moving in? Are you taking the time you need to understand the relationship and person you are with or is it moving according to their needs and wants only?
There is no time line to which you need to adhere to apart from what you are comfortable with and if someone wants to start a relationship with you then your pace needs to be taken into consideration and catered for. Despite how well they may feel they know you and are ready to move on in the relationship with you.
They may make you feel like you’re ready for the next step by beginning the relationship with so much love, attention and infatuation, so much so that you may feel that this relationship is “too good to be true”.
And sorry to be the one to burst your bubble but most of the time if something seems too good to be true it probably is, and if you want your relationship to prove otherwise then take your time and question yourself:
Are they only nice to you or are they generally a nice person to everyone?
The patience they show you is it reciprocated to others or not?
Are they genuinely happy for you when you are with others or do they make you feel like only they have the right to make you happy?
They might even take it one step further and insist that you need to spend all your time with them and no one else and they might directly or indirectly isolate you from others who are close to you.
And this controlling form of behaviour at first will be justified by the ‘love bombing’ beforehand so you will think that ‘s/he checks up on me all the time because they constantly worry about me’ or ‘only wants you to spend time with them because they love you too much’.
But then the constant control will remain without the facade of the hopeless romantic they were before.
They may confine you to them by insisting that any clubs, hobbies or activities are not necessary so that you can spend more time with them. But you will need to ask yourself is that what you want to do? Why did you join them in first place? How does participating in the activities make you feel?
Because if it made you feel good then quitting them is about fulfilling the needs of others and not yours. And if you accept that they can it further and ask you to quit your school or job.
This invasion of your personal life may only get worse with someone who has controlling nature, because they are making the relationship all about them, and in doing so they will overstep the boundaries you have placed for yourself.
They will push you to compromise who you are in order to prove your love to them, which defies the purpose of you having boundaries in the first place.
If your attention is not towards them then their controlling nature may result in them becoming unreasonably jealous accusing you of being unfaithful.
And that may even be their justification for always keeping tabs on you, making sure they are aware of your every move and constantly checking up on you.
So what can you do?
Talk. I cannot emphasise the importance of this. Talk to friends, family members, colleagues anyone else you are close to aside from the one afflicting the abuse.
Even if they (the ones controlling you) are urging you to cut off all ties apart from themselves, it is so very important to lead a life of your own and keep those who know you well close.
Those you trust, who are honest and open with you will be able to detect the changes in the relationship maybe even before you do.
They might let you know that the 7th text in the past hour seems a bit excessive.
Or that your nature has always been friendly and not flirty as you have been accused of otherwise.
Most importantly they will be the ones you can turn to to document the relationship to you, and if need be to someone else if things take a turn for the worse. Please check our support page: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/musingsofbrowngirls.com/1528 for helplines should you need them.
People that you have had around you and who are a part of your life are the ones that will always remain, they are the ones whom we can love without the need to prove anything to them.
And their importance should always be acknowledged and accepted by anyone who wants to be a part of your life. And wanting you to part with them is a very big red flag.
They will love you and care for you without judgement and expectations and letting them in will be the way you let yourself out of a relationship that is not healthy for you.
Hoping for the other person to change or even trying to help with their ‘troubles’ or ‘issues’ because of their behaviour is not the answer you need to be looking for.
Instead, every effort you need to make should be for you.
Making small and large changes should be to help you be the best version of yourself.
Love is an amazing place to be in and no matter what hurdles life may throw at you those that truly love you will make you feel comfortable and accepted no matter what.
Reflect. Love. Heal.