I write a lot about an abusive relationship I was in, but I write about it so much because it is something I experienced that I am still learning to work through. I was with someone whom I believed was the love of my life, but the ways he treated me proved otherwise. My friends and family told me the red flags and I did not want to listen to them, but now that I look back on our relationship, I see my own set of red flags.
1. He told me I was the reason he was mean to me.
His motto was always, "if you didn't act this way, I wouldn't be so mean to you/treat you this way". Abusers use this as a common tool to make their victims blame themselves. Most of the time, the way I was "acting" was needing reassurance because of my anxiety or getting reasonably upset about something he had done/said.
2. He was bad-tempered when he was drunk.
When he was drunk, it was like talking to a wall. I would try to apologize or fix whatever problem we were having, but it never seemed to work. It was not always that way. He was not always rude or belligerent when he was drunk, but as he got more comfortable in our relationship, I started to get nervous every time he would start drinking because I knew there would be a fight. After many months of apologies, I had convinced him to stop drinking. He did, but then he became bad-tempered when he was sober. It was like the alcohol had made the nasty side of him more comfortable.
3. He used personal information and secrets against me.
When you are in a relationship with someone for a while, you start to tell your secrets as part of the intimacy that comes within a relationship. I told him how my father was estranged and how we did not have a relationship (and why). I told him secrets about how dysfunctional my family can be and how dysfunctional it once was. When we would fight, he would use my secrets against me, telling me it was my fault that I did not have a relationship with my father and how I was "messed up" because of my parents.
4. He was constantly checking my location on SnapChat and questioning me about it.
There were times when we would fight, and just to get away and blow off steam, I would go off campus to a friend's apartment. He would constantly check my location to see where I was and accuse me of being with other boys and cheating on him. I would reassure him and tell him I was hanging out with friends from high school that were all girls (which is true) but he would not stop fighting with me and accusing me until I came back to my room and talked to him.
5. He was always posting negative things about me and our relationship on Twitter.
Of course he would post sweet and cute things about me on Twitter and SnapChat, but especially after our break-up he would post about how I am a "whore" or a "slut" and how you should "never date a girl with daddy issues". Because of this, I no longer have Twitter because it makes me nervous to see what else he has written about me. Instead of keeping our relationship private, he would try to expose me to an audience and have people pick his side.
6. He would make me feel guilty about my anxiety and depression.
It is no secret that those with mental illness cannot control it. I have anxiety and depression which can be very hard to deal with. I started taking antidepressants for him because he told me he could not deal with my problems. I understood and am still on them now. They have helped a lot, but it did not help when he would say, "it's all in your head", "you need to control this", etc etc. I took the initiative to get the help I needed, but he still could not understand that I could not control the chemical imbalance in my brain no matter how hard I tried to explain it.
7. He did not support my independence.
I made a lot of true and genuine friends this past semester because I separated myself from him. He did not like this because I was isolated from people for so long and I was with him every second of every day. We were having problems (as you can tell from the red flags above) but he tried to convince me to move in with him. I told him I did not want to and I was enjoying my college years with my friends for once. He made me feel guilty about this and told me that the friends I have now are not people that will be in my life forever. They are still around, however, and he is not.
8. He did not agree with my major.
I'm a co-editor for my community's Odyssey, and I recently had a book published, but this was not enough for my ex. He told me I was not a talented writer; that I was "average at best". He also told me that being an English major is not practical and it is not a "real" major. I have heard this from strangers, but hearing it from someone I love who is supposed to support me when I supported him hurt a lot. It was not constructive criticism, it was him putting me down and making me feel like I was not enough.
9. He did not embrace my personality.
I have a very outgoing and bubbly personality. I like making friends and I talk to new people all the time. I am not very shy, I have no problem talking to strangers. There would be times when I would crack jokes with people around campus that I did not know or I would have a random conversation with them. I was making friends, but he would tell me I was "being obnoxious". When we would go to parties, I would be loud and I would be having fun playing drinking games. No one else around me would be bothered, but he would scold me for being obnoxious and annoying. After a while, I stopped going to parties and making friends because I always felt like an embarrassment.
10. He told me that mental/emotional abuse was not real.
He told me once when I accused him of his abusive tendencies that "mental abuse was not real". He told me the only abuse that was real was physical abuse. He literally did not see or believe that the things he told me were wrong. Mental/emotional abuse is real and should not be undermined. It is detrimental to mental health.It is so easy to lose yourself in a relationship (which I did). We are typically taught what a healthy and an unhealthy/abusive/toxic relationship is in high school Health class. However, when you are actually going through that kind of relationship, it is so hard to remember the slideshows and pamphlets they handed out to us back in high school, and when you love someone, it is almost impossible to identify the red flags. But, ladies and gentlemen, please do not ignore the red flags. Save yourself before it gets dangerous.