Can you count all the places and situations in your life you’ve encountered a bully? School. Neighborhood. Family. Even the workplace. Bullies have a way of dragging you down and making life miserable for you because they’re really hard to deal with.
Sharing our personal story brings healing. You can speak your story of an experience of deep hurt that has molded you in some way and affected who you are now. Whatever that experience looks like for you, let me encourage you to tell it in whatever way feels safest.
When I shared my story with you, my readers, it brought up a lot of ugly stuff I had been through. I typed through tears. But I felt compelled to write it and let it be “heard”. I write about redemption and healthy relationships and not-so-healthy ones. What makes you think I’m an authority to speak on those? Well, once you read my story, you had that answer.
When you’re in a romantic relationship, it’s always good to check the health of it, just like you get a checkup for your physical health. I’ve compiled a simple list of 10 questions to ask yourself that will help you determine if you’re in a relationship that’s not in your best interest. When you read each one, think of your relationship. Really think about each question and be honest with yourself. I know how easy (and painful) it can be to excuse away someone’s bad behavior when it hurts to face it.
- Do you have a voice in your relationship? When I was in an abusive relationship, I lost my voice. Not my speaking voice, but my internal voice, my ability to speak up for myself. I felt invisible, unheard, and undervalued. Do you feel that way? Like your thoughts, dreams, opinions are belittled or don’t matter at all?
- Are you afraid? Do you fear your mate? Are you afraid of his or her reactions? Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, trying hard not to upset him or her because you’re afraid of what will happen if you do?
- Do you feel nervous or panicked if your mate texts or calls you and you’re not able to respond right away? This is a sign your mate is controlling, manipulative, and possessive. It’s not romantic. Don’t try to convince yourself that it’s “just because he misses me so much.” He’s checking up on you and has a need to know nearly every second, what you’re doing and who you’re with.
- Do you feel like you can’t make an independent decision? Often, this is a major goal of abusers. They want their victims to be so confused, so lacking in self-esteem, that they second guess almost every move they make. They believe they need to be completely dependent on their mate to make even the smallest decisions.
- Are you being insulted? Lied to? Cheated on? Bad, bad, and bad. If even one of these applies to you, it’s a tremendous problem. You’re not being treated well and valued.
- Do you often feel trapped in the relationship? Do you feel as though you’d be harmed in some way if you left the relationship? Or that you’d be helpless to make it in life without your mate? Did someone tell you that you couldn’t handle life on your own? You can. It might not be easy at first, but you can do it.
- Does your mate manage and monopolize your time and attention? If you’re with friends, does he text or call constantly, interrupting your time? Does he punish you or try to make you feel guilty if you spend time away from him? Does he accuse you of not loving him if you dare to make plans with anyone but him? Not cool, friends.
- Does he (or she) put his hands on you EVER? A push, a shove, a fist raised in your face–even if it doesn’t make contact–is still abuse. Nobody, NOBODY has permission to touch you unless you give it to them.
- Do you feel alone in your relationship? Like things go on that no one else could possibly understand. Or maybe they won’t even believe what goes on and you’re too embarrassed to share.
- Are you in pain because of the other person? Physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain. Are they deliberating causing you any kind of pain?
Whether you believe in the Bible or not, the Love Chapter is a perfect reference to stand up next to your relationship. Love is kind (is your mate kind to you? ). Love is not jealous (is your mate jealous, like really jealous over normal mild jealousy?) Love is gentle (is your mate gentle?) Love is patient. It is not arrogant. It does not rejoice in wrongdoing. You can look up I Corinthians 13 if you’d like to dig into this description anymore.
Think on these things. Take care of yourself. You deserve goodness, gentleness, kindness, real love.
Hang in there,
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please…if you’re in an abusive situation, reach out the safest way you can and find help. If you suspect someone may be in an abusive relationship, be a friend. And keep being a friend. That person needs someone to trust and confide in. Maybe that someone is you.
Something’s been on my mind lately. Heavily. I’ve been concerned about teens, kids just starting to date. And I’ve been wondering if they know what “symptoms” of an abusive relationship look like and that when they see these behaviors, it’s not romantic, it’s abuse.
From observations, I’ve seen and been told of behaviors in some teen relationships that constitute abuse, although I’m not sure kids are realizing that’s exactly what it is. And that’s what’s been on my mind. I worry. I worry that kids just beginning to date who are naive in the ways of romantic relationships (like I was), don’t know about boundaries and what’s healthy and what’s not within a relationship. Heck, it isn’t just teens specifically. Anyone who just isn’t really aware of how abuse starts and how confusing it can really be if you don’t understand it.