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But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

But He Says He Loves Me: How I Finally Left an Abusive Relationship

Domestic violence, whether it be emotional or physical abuse, is always a difficult and controversial topic. I have spent months wondering how I would be able to write about this, as it is a delicate subject.

Everyone’s situations are different but after careful thought and consideration, I have decided to speak from my own experiences and my own perspective in hopes that someone that may need to read this, happens to come across this article. They may relate to it in their own way just when they need it the most.

When Will Enough Be Enough

“Where are you?!” I could hear him searching for me frantically, slamming doors as he looked for me in each room. I heard glass break and he screamed out for me again. His voice filled with anger, he was huffing, puffing and swearing profusely.

As I lay on my stomach under the bed, I held onto the knife tightly trying to hold my breath, scared he would hear me if I made a sound. I didn’t know what I would do with the knife but it made me feel a tiny bit safer. My body was shaking in fear, my mind was racing, “Is this really happening? What is this even about? Why did he have to come home drunk?”

I heard the back door slam, he must be searching for me in the yard. I quickly grabbed my phone and called the police. It felt like forever for someone to pick up, my heart racing, palms were sweaty and I was in a crazy state of panic. Finally, someone answered, “Please state your type of emergency.” I tried to speak quietly but I was so frightened I was speaking too fast.

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“What is your name and what is the emergency?” The voice on the phone asked. “Please just send someone to help me, my boyfriend is going crazy and I need help fast,” I pleaded. “What is your name, location and what is your contact number?” The voice over the phone asked. “I don’t have time for this, just come help me”, I pleaded.

I heard the back door slam again, he was in the house. My heart skipped a beat and I hung up the call almost immediately. I grabbed onto the knife while I lay under the bed. I couldn’t hear where he was, my blood was rushing through my veins as I used every ounce of my energy to hold my breath. I didn’t want him to find me. I was scared for my life. There was silence. Then I heard a bang, it sounded like he punched a hole into the wall again.

My phone rang, I looked at the screen and it must’ve been the police, I quickly hung up. My heart sank, “Oh my god, I hope he didn’t hear that, why on earth would the cops call when I have already told them my situation!” Next thing I knew, he grabbed my foot and was dragging me from under the bed.

Why I Stayed

Before him, I would’ve said that I would always leave if a guy were to hit me or even touch me in an abusive way. It wasn’t until I was actually in the situation, I finally understood why it was so hard for many people to walk away from any type of abuse. It started off small, little remarks and comments that undermined me and my character. Slowly, it grew into something bigger, by this point, I was invested.

When I first met him, I wasn’t interested in him. He was a charismatic guy that everyone in town knew and loved. He was known to be a bit of a “player” and I just didn’t want to get entangled with a “player.” I was a challenge to him. He was determined to get me. I wasn’t as easy to catch as the other girls were, so he chased hard.

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When I finally agreed to go on a date with him,  he did his best to sweep me off my feet. He wrote me cute notes, bought me gifts, wined and dined me. He treated me in a way I had never been treated before. He told me how special I was and he told me he loved me. This went on for over a year and I remember wondering how on earth his ex had ever left a guy like this. I was on cloud nine. Then we moved in together, got engaged and everything went downhill.

Every time I tried to leave, he promised he would change, he promised things would be different and I would end up staying in hopes that the guy I had met would come back. Every time I told him I had had enough, he would say, “You are never going to find anyone that loves you like I do. Your family didn’t even want you, they kicked you out of their home. You lost your virginity to several men you don’t even know, who’s going to want you? Every other guy is going to think you’re worthless.” He knew my past, he knew my insecurities, he knew how to use it against me and at the time, I believed him. After all, who would want someone like me? He says he loves me. I should be lucky he loves me because nobody else would.

How I Finally Left

As the old saying goes, people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The universe knew I needed to open my eyes. I was back and forth, making up and breaking up with him and just couldn’t get the willpower to leave. That’s when someone that I call a “soulmate” walked into my life.

My soulmate inspired me to travel, to see what else was out in the world. He knew nothing of my past but he knew I was stuck in my own little bubble. He doesn’t know just how much of an impact he had on my life but because of him, I finally decided to take the plunge and booked a one-way ticket to Thailand. Little did I know that this was the start of a massive transformation and self-discovery journey.

What I Learned

Looking back, I had a part to play in that relationship. He was messed up and didn’t know how to deal with it so he lashed out. I too was messed up and didn’t know to love myself so I accepted that kind of behaviour.  Misery loves company and we were both two insecure souls that came together and made a recipe for disaster.

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I don’t regret that relationship though, I learned a lot from that. I learned what I didn’t want and it also pushed me into a path towards learning to get to know myself, my flaws, my insecurities and to discover who I really am and what I really deserve.

That relationship taught me that even though at times we can feel stuck and see no way out, there is always an answer. Most often than not, it is the simplest answer. Just leave. No matter how hard or impossible it may seem at the time, once we start to action what we know deep down is right, the universe will help you. It brings people, situations and light bulb moments to us in order to assist us in our paths.

I’m not saying that everyone should book a one-way ticket and leave but for me, it really did help. Completely removing myself from the situation stopped me from going back. It opened me up to a whole new passion, travel. It opened me up to the big, wide world out there and taught me that the bubble I was stuck in was actually a tiny fraction of what was actually going on in the world. It taught me that I did have control over my life and I did have a choice.

I will admit, that relationship left me even more messed up for a while but I’m definitely a stronger person for it. I wouldn’t know how to love myself the way I do now if I hadn’t experienced that lesson. Just because someone says they love you, doesn’t necessarily ring true.

Nobody can truly love someone else until they can love themselves. Even though he said he loved me, he didn’t. He didn’t love himself. If he did, he would never have treated me like that. I didn’t love myself either because if I did, I would never have stayed or accepted that treatment.

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I just remember having a moment while I was overseas, sitting on the beach, toes in the sand, watching a gorgeous sunset, a wave of freedom washing over me and I thought to myself, “Why did I not leave sooner?”

If you are in a similar situation or know someone that is, please know that there is a way out and it doesn’t have to be like this. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, no one deserves to go through this and no one deserves to feel stuck. There is a solution and there is always a way. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are in Australia and need support please call ; 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au

If you are outside of Australia here is a link for shelters, crisis centres and hotlines; http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html

Featured photo credit: medicaldaily.com via images.medicaldaily.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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