Abusive relationships don’t start with the aggressive, angry behavior. They start with small things to see what they can get away with. The more you let slide, the more they push.
These signs are referred to as “red flags.” These red flags are the glaring things that are a surefire sign that this person is NOT a good person and you need to get out.
When you miss the red flags, it’s because you’re seeing the relationship through those “rose colored glasses” that allow us to ignore the bad things and only see the good ones.
The bad thing here is that when you’re wearing those rose colored glasses, the red flags blend in with the rest of the environment. It becomes easy to justify them away.
When you know them ahead of time, you’re more apt to call it out and get out before it gets worse.
Here are my top red flags to look for.
According to Google, the definition of gaslighting is: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
If you have ever thought to yourself, “Wait, maybe he’s right, maybe I am crazy.” I can guarantee you that you are not crazy.
Abusers use this technique to rob you of your sanity and your voice. Once you lose confidence in what you have to say, in your own thoughts, it’s much easier for them to overpower you.
Gaslighting looks like:
I never did that.
I think you need help.
You’re so lucky I put up with you.
That never happened.
You’re so pathetic – don’t you know that?
You can’t even manage to keep the kitchen clean. Why would I want to spend time with someone as lazy as you?
This is one of the most important things to look out for.
The thing that I experienced consistently with each abusive relationship I was in is the escalation of violence.
Very rarely does physical abuse begin with direct hits. It starts with aggression that isn’t aimed at you, that allows them to gaslight you into thinking that it’s acceptable.
When I was 17 years old, my boyfriend would get mad at me so easily. I remember the first time he punched the couch. I remember being scared, but since he didn’t hit me, I let it go.
It escalated to him throwing a pillow at the spot next to me on the bed. If I showed any signs of being scared, he would respond with an eyeroll and “Oh my God settle down. You just really pissed me off – it’s not like I hit you.”
The next step up was putting his fist through the wall next to my head when he was upset that I wouldn’t sleep with him.
It became physical against me very shortly thereafter.
Another incident that stands out to me is my most recent ex.
We had gotten in a fight and we were screaming at each other. I grabbed my shoes and ran into the bathroom and locked the door so I could get ready to go in some space.
He came bursting through the door, ripping off the lock and ruining the hinges.
His eyes were full of rage, his fists tight and tense at this side.
The thing that gets me the most is that this didn’t surprise me and I was able to hide my fear behind anger. This was towards the beginning of the relationship.
Things escalated during the 5 more years we were together.
It is so important to recognize these things and call them out as you see them. The more you let someone get away with, the quicker it’s going to escalate.
This doesn’t take away from the fact that you care about them, but it is important that you care about yourself enough to leave.
Mocking your goals and dreams
“Baby I love you – but there’s no way you can do that. You’re too fat.”
That was his response to me telling him that I wanted to do Cross Country in high school.
I was so angry at him for saying that and definitely let it show.
Instead of apologizing or showing any sort of remorse, he rolled his eyes and said that I just wasn’t the physical type and that wasn’t his fault.
I was determined to prove him wrong, but the comments still stung.
I mentioned to him that I wanted to be a bodybuilder one day and he literally spit his drink on me. He told me that female bodybuilders were disgusting and not only that, I’d never get to that level. I was too fat, too lazy, not enough drive.
If he’s not going to be supportive of you, then he doesn’t belong in your life.
If he doesn’t see your value, he doesn’t deserve you. Period.
Not respecting your boundaries
“I don’t feel comfortable around him – it seems like he’s trying to touch me.”
My ex rolled his eyes and said that I was just conceited – that it was fine and I needed to get over it. He was allowed to have his friends over.
Yet he wouldn’t let me leave because he would ‘miss me too much.’
That night he proceeded to get very drunk while his friend managed to stay relatively sober.
After ripping the door frame of our room off, I made him go to bed.
His friend wouldn’t leave and continually said things to get between my then fiance and I.
I’m so thankful he listened when I told him to leave me alone, but
I consider myself lucky in that instance. It could’ve easily been a very bad situation.
When I didn’t want to be around his friend, his response should have been to go out without me, let me leave, or not drink himself to oblivion.
But he didn’t respect my boundary. Why? Because he didn’t respect me.
Any time you state what you’re comfortable or not comfortable with, the other person is required to respect that. If they don’t, you need to leave.
Girl, you deserve so much better. This is abuse, and abuse isn’t love. You need to make sure you’re aware of gaslighting, physical aggression, mocking of your dreams and pushing your boundaries.
The right person will respect you enough to be a good person. Anyone who does stuff like this doesn’t fall into that ‘good person’ category.
From the time I was 12-23, I was stuck in the abusive relationship cycle.
I experienced this over and over and that’s not what I want for you. I want you to see the mistakes I’ve made and save yourself the pain of making them yourself.
One of the hardest things to do, particularly after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, is to set boundaries.
The idea of setting, let alone keeping, boundaries is enough to bring anxiety to the surface. That’s why on September 5th, 2020 I’m teaching my Build your Boundaries class.
This free class is geared toward giving you the foundation and skills you need to set and keep boundaries with confidence.
This is the only time I’ll be teaching it for free, so click here to snag your spot!