Abuse in a relationship can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, or all three, but it always involves aggression, contempt, cruelty, injury, or force.
Abuse, in whatever form, has a tremendous impact on one’s emotional stability, and because emotional health is so crucial to one’s well-being, it is critical to recognize the signs of an abusive partner and avoid them while guarding your heart.
“Above all else, guard your heart,” Proverbs 4:23 says, “because everything you do flows from it.” By guarding your heart, you end up taking care of yourself and obeying the Word of God, which it turn enables you to be discerning of dangerous associations rather than always looking for faults in yourself to justify the other party’s behavior. Here are some indicators that you may be in an abusive relationship.
An abusive partner ridicules you in front of others, insults and calls you names, never respects your requests, and dismisses your viewpoint. While disrespect can take many forms, including physical, sexual, and mental abuse, it is vital to remember that you can only be treated in a certain way if you allow it to happen. While there could be times when you can only control so much, do ensure that you speak up when disrespected and maintain your assertiveness.
One of the most fundamental cornerstones in any great relationship is trust. A spouse who does not respect you enough to always tell you the truth is likely to abuse and gaslight you.
Isolating you from loved ones
Isolation is a key tactic abusers use to make sure other people do not realize their victims are being abused. They do not necessarily need to use threats or violence to keep you at home.
“The abuser discourages contact with others in subtle and manipulative ways, preventing loved ones from being able to detect changes in mood or well-being,” Genovese says.
An abuser may try to keep you under control by restricting your freedom to leave the house, seizing control of your funds, and monitoring your online activity, to name a few. This may start small, such as constantly calling or texting you when you are away from them, but it can escalate quickly.
Physical and, or sexual abuse
A physically abusive partner may attack you at any time, resulting in emotional and mental instability or even death, while a sexually abusive partner may force you to have sex, resulting in long-term health difficulties.
Given this, you should avoid the effects of abuse by saying no to abusers and seek professional help if you find yourself in such a situation, keeping in mind that your mental health is crucial to your growth. Abuse is not a form of power, therefore do not support it. If you know of an abuser, speak to a professional about it in the hopes that they too can get help. Often times, abusers struggle with unmet needs which can be addressed clinically.
Above all else, prayerfully think through every association, especially romantic associations and do not entangle yourself with anyone who hinders your ability to grow in Christ.