Let's face it, love is dangerous. We are essentially handing our heart over to someone we are more than likely still getting to know, and we are trusting them NOT to make us regret our decision. The truth is, when you're heavily involved in another person, you tend to make excuses when their actions don't live up to the expectation. You start to rationalize their actions, you tell yourself that you're overreacting or that they will change. Is it our own inability to admit that our trust was misplaced, or are we just so invested in the idea of love that we are willing to make it work even when we are unhappy? Whatever the case may be, many of us end up tolerating abusive or manipulative behavior without even realizing it.
My entire life has been a blur of abuse and neglect. I've seldom had good relationships and this reflects onto what I tolerate. For example, when I got invested into my first relationship, I really didn't have anyone to pull me aside and let me know what abuse, manipulation, or a controlling situation looked like. I wasn't aware of the toxicity and negativity that could develop in a relationship and I also wasn't aware that it wasn't my fault. I started dating in high school and roped myself into a whopping SIX YEAR relationship full of stress, confusion, and agonizing heartache. I probably would have tolerated his abuse my entire life if some events hadn't ripped us apart in the end.
The thing is, many young men and women are being manipulated into believing that their toxic relationship is healthy through outlets such as the media, our parent's relationships, fiction, our own determination, the manipulation in itself, etc. We typically aren't even aware of just how bad it has gotten. I've looked back at old messages and I've been shocked by the way that I was treated. Now I know what you must be thinking- "how would she not remember how she was treated?" Well, I spent so long rationalizing and making excuses for my abuser, that I think that I might have even believed those lies myself.
The cold hard truth is this, my abuser made me believe that the way he treated me was my fault. My abuser made me feel like I deserved to be abused. My abuser diminished my self esteem into NOTHING so that he could instill whatever he wanted into my head. I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I had no one but him and that's exactly what he wanted. He would constantly mention to me that I would be out on the street without him, that no one else would ever want me, and I was so far gone that I actually believed him. I think my young mind even believed that I would be dead without him.
I could go on and on about the pain that my abuser projected on me but it'll never erase the countless nights of crying myself to sleep or the times when I wanted to end my own life from the pain. Young men and women are constantly being put into similar situations with hardly any guidance. We learn the hard way, right? I would have given anything for someone to pull me aside and let me know that the behavior that my significant other was exhibiting was not only unsafe but unacceptable.
I know for some, it's hard to believe that people could be so blind. I mean, how do we not know we are being abused? Isn't it obvious? The answer is no, not always. This is a new day and age where abuse comes in many different disguises. People that know how to manipulate others by corrupting their self worth know exactly what to do/say in order to keep them around and also to keep them from opening their eyes to the situation. They tell you they love you, they tell you they need you, they tell you that they can't live without you. They rewire your brain into believing that you can save them- that you can help them change.
My entire relationship was motivated by the thought that I could change my abuser. I thought that if I just kept loving him unconditionally that eventually he would wake up one morning and love me the real way- love me the way love is supposed to be. That he would be kind to me and take care of me the way I had always dreamed of. But that day never came and the abuse only got worse and worse. I lost my ambition, my positive outlook, and I think the worst part was that I lost myself. I became bitter and burned bridges. I lashed out and let the abuse leak into every other aspect of my life- education, work, friends, you name it.
How do know that you're being abused if the signs are not clear or physical? If you feel unsafe, or if your significant other says things to purposely hurt you, annoy you, anger you consistently to get a reaction out of you, this is unfair treatment. If your partner forces you into situations and/or insults you, this is unfair treatment. If you start to feel like your heart aches every day because of the way you are being treated, this is unfair treatment. Your partner should be uplifting you- not bringing you down.
I'm not writing this article to bash my abuser, I'm beyond that nowadays but I've realized that keeping silent about my abuse when I want nothing more but to spread awareness to others is unnecessary. As I mentioned above, I would have given anything for someone to pull me aside and tell me what was going on. Many people watched as my abuser took everything from me and never spoke against it. I reached out for help multiple times with no result. I want you to know that if you're dealing with an abusive situation, you are not alone.
Mental and emotional abuse are still ABUSE just as physical abuse is, and you deserve better. You deserve someone that is going to care about how you feel and who you are, someone that is going to support you and want you to better yourself while they are also bettering themselves. If you feel as though you can't escape an abusive situation or that your situation doesn't feel right and you're unsure, please reach out. My life has improved drastically since escaping my toxic situation and I know yours could change as well. I am now in a loving, healthy relationship and every day I am shocked by my lover's kindness and love.
The domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-7233) and website (http://www.thehotline.org/help/) are just some of the places that you can reach out to as well as your loved ones. I know it may feel like no one cares but I promise you, that is not the case.