Not all relationships are healthy. In fact, some are downright unhealthy and can even leave the victim of abusive behaviours in fear of their life.
A staggering one in four women will experience some form of violence at the hands of an intimate partner, according to data from the NCADV. It isn’t just women, either. One in nine men will be abused by a partner, and crucially, men are far less likely to report the abuse, meaning the figures are probably inaccurate. If you are stuck in a toxic relationship, there are resources available, such as this survivor’s resource guide, but to help you spot the red flags, here are some key signs to watch out for.
One of the hallmarks of a toxic relationship is a repeated pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour. In the beginning, your partner may shower you in love and make you feel like the most desirable person in the world, but in time, they will seek to isolate you from friends and family.
They may be the ‘jealous type’, constantly accusing you of having affairs with male friends, or questioning where you are when you hang out with friends. This often has the effect of making the victim stay at home to avoid conflict or losing touch with friends because their partner doesn’t “like” them. It can even cause the victim to isolate themselves from family members who try and intervene.
Be very wary if your partner displays jealousy in the early days of a relationship. Whilst it is flattering to think your partner is jealous of other men or women looking at you or talking to you, this type of behaviour soon escalates and before long, you’ll be expected to state your whereabouts at all hours of the day and night.
Toxic partners may try and control your finances. This can take the form of not allowing you to work so you are financially dependent or taking your wages if you do work. They may tell you that you’re terrible with money and you can’t be trusted. Some people run up huge debts in their partner’s name, leaving them with no choice but to stick around and try to pay off the debts. Being forced to rely on their partner for money makes it much harder to leave the relationship, especially when children are involved.
Being in a loving relationship means feeling supported at all times. If your partner constantly belittles you, tells you that you’re stupid, fat, unlovable, and worse, this relationship is toxic. Abusive partners will often try to chip away at their partner’s self-esteem, to the point where they believe nobody else will want them. They’ll flirt with other people and say nasty things about you in front of friends. Make no mistake, this type of behaviour is abusive and your relationship is deeply unhealthy.
If any of the above sounds familiar, you need to end relationship. It won’t be easy, and you may need professional support, but you deserve better, so do not make the mistake of thinking your partner will change – they won’t.