If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you have a small voice in your head that thinks you, or someone you’re close to, has the potential to be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Before we get into a list of specific ways you’ll know... I want you to trust that voice in your head.
You know how you should be treated, and if you are with someone who treats you even a fraction less of how you should be treated. You deserve better.
It pains me to say there are so many different kinds of abuse. Each one damaging and unique - and each one unacceptable. I want to say it again, you deserve to be treated with kindness, love, respect and compassion!
I want you to be aware, before we go any further, the reason I am able to write this is because I’ve been there. I know these things all too well. It has taken me a long time to get to the place where I am able to write this and share it with you. It’s thanks to the grace and love of Jesus and the grace and love of my family and friends that I have walked through the healing process and am at the point where all I want is to share my story so that people can know two things: these behaviours are not normal, and that you are WORTH MORE.
So here we go, girls. Here are a few red flags to be on the lookout for if you are unsure of the health of your relationship:
1. None of your friends/family like him
This is different from, “your friends are upset you’re spending more time with your boyfriend than you are with them” or “your friends don’t have the same interests as he does”. This is your friends showing concern for you because they don’t feel safe around him, or they don’t think he is treating you well. If the ringing majority feel something off about this guy - listen to them! They are the ones who know you the best and they are the ones who want what’s best for you. So if they see something wrong, they will usually be quicker to point it out than you would.
2. He doesn’t listen when you say “No”
This is a HUGE red flag! This can be as simple as you not wanting to hang out and him forcing you to, or could be all the way to him forcing you to get physical in any capacity when you’re not ready. Listen here girl. You are allowed to say no. Your boyfriend should be s safe place for you. If you are never allowed to say no - that is NOT a safe place. If you say no and he does it anyways - that is not a safe place. If your relationship is not a safe place, you are 1000% allowed to escape to a new place where you are safe.
3. You find yourself doubting your worth
If anything he says or does makes you doubt your worth - he is in the wrong, not you. If he is constantly criticizing or critiquing. If he is making you feel shame or doubt or fear. If his words put you down instead of lift you up... You deserve more than those things.
4. He treats his mom/women in power poorly
This was a key that my mom instilled in me from an early age. She said, “if you want know how your boyfriend will treat you in x amount of years, look how he treats the women in his life.” If he spends his time with his mom yelling at her or making her feel small - chances are that will be how he treats you in the future. If he doesn’t think that women have the right or potential to be in leadership, he doesn’t think you do either. Pay attention to those little clues to see if that is a way you want to be treated in your future.
5. You will do anything so that he doesn’t get angry
I still remember some of the funny things I would do just so that my boyfriend wouldn’t get angry. Things as simple as deleting comments on my Instagram all the way to never correcting him or telling him how I was feeling. Because his anger scared me so much. I would have much rather been sad and isolated than be the reason for his anger.
6. His “apologies” end up making you feel guilty
If your confrontations always end with you feeling guilty or with you being the one in the wrong, the chances are that he is manipulating you. Yes, sometimes you just might be in the wrong, but if every single time you tell him how you feel he spins it so that you doubt yourself - that is a huge red flag.
My dear girl, if these red flags are leaving that sinking feeling in your stomach and sound all to familiar … they may be alerting you to the fact that you, or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship. The most important thing you can do is to talk to someone. Talk to a friend, talk to a parent, talk to a teacher or a leader. Talk to someone!
I understand the shame that you might be feeling because of things you have done or because of what he has spoken over you. I really, really do. But I BED you - reach out to someone to get help in the next steps. Leaving an abusive relationship is so incredibly difficult and scary, but you are worth SO much more. Please, get help in walking through the decisions you need to make.
I also need to let you know, it’s okay to break up with someone in a way that protects you. It’s counter cultural/counter our natures to be “rude” to someone. But you have to protect yourself first. If you are afraid to do it in person, do it over a phone call. If you are afraid to be alone, do it in a public place with a friend close by. If you break up and he continually tries to contact you... block him and if needed get authorities involved. Your safety and health are FAR more important that his feelings at this moment.
Finally I want to leave you with this… 1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love, perfect love drives out fear.” You deserve to be with someone who loves you as Christ loves you. If there is fear in your relationship - it is NOT LOVE, and you deserve far more! There is NO fear in love. If you ever find yourself afraid of the person who is supposed to care for and about you, please, please pay attention to that.
Love you deeply, girl. Please care for yourself.