Abuse in Disguise

Something’s been on my mind lately.  Heavily. I’ve been concerned about teens, kids just starting to date. And I’ve been wondering if they know what “symptoms” of an abusive relationship look like and that when they see these behaviors, it’s not romantic, it’s abuse.

From observations, I’ve seen and been told of behaviors in some teen relationships that constitute abuse, although I’m not sure kids are realizing that’s exactly what it is. And that’s what’s been on my mind. I worry. I worry that kids just beginning to date who are naive in the ways of romantic relationships (like I was), don’t know about boundaries and what’s healthy and what’s not within a relationship. Heck, it isn’t just teens specifically. Anyone who just isn’t really aware of how abuse starts and how confusing it can really be if you don’t understand it.

I know some aspects of abuse–control, possessiveness, monopolizing one’s time, checking your phone–are sometimes incorrectly assumed to be attractive and romantic.

A mate telling you how to dress isn’t okay. That’s undermining your confidence to decide what’s appropriate to wear and feel comfortable in.

Being angry if you see your mate talking innocently to the member of the opposite gender, isn’t normal mild jealousy. It’s not cute and flattering. The person should have enough faith in you that you’re not doing anything shady and likewise, shouldn’t try to squash the freedom you have to speak to whomever you want.

When you’re with friends or family away from your mate, and they constantly call or text you, interrupting your time and not being respectful of it, that is not okay. It’s being possessive and they don’t like any time you focus on someone or something other than them. They want command of all your attention.

Checking your phone, Facebook page or texts is another sign they’re insecure and don’t trust you, but want to control you. And this is a problem. I’m married and I don’t check my husband’s texts and he doesn’t check mine either. I’m sure if I asked him if I could, he’d let me because he’s not doing anything he shouldn’t. But because I’m secure in knowing that, I don’t feel the need to “spy” on him. Both people in a relationship need to feel secure and respect each other’s privacy.

I've wondered if newly-dating folks know the signs of relationship abuse. I worry they don't know that in some situations, it's not romantic, it's abuse.

Encouraging you to lie to your parents, friends or boss to cover up what’s going on in your relationship or to be able to skip out on a responsibility to spend time with your mate is a problem. It’s control and disrespect. A healthy mate would never want you to jeopardize relationships or tell you to be dishonest.

Speaking to you harshly…

Undermining your decisions and confidence…

Trying to get you to do something you don’t want to (sex or otherwise)…

Not supporting your goals and dreams and even trying to keep you from them or change them…

Belittling you, in private or in front of others or at any time…

Putting hands on you…

Pressuring you for sex or to make other decisions you don’t want to…

Pushing your boundaries…

All of these are characteristics of an abusive relationship. Don’t make excuses. We are all responsible for our own behavior. If you see a red flag like one listed above, call it what it is: trouble. If you see one red flag, there’s a pretty good chance more are coming.

Be safe in your relationships. Be strong and firm about who you are.

Synonyms for love are tenderness, fondness, patience, kindness, compassion, unselfishness. Do these describe your relationship? 

Please remember your worth and remember that you are deserving of a healthy, loving romantic relationship. Don’t forget.

Be encouraged and be smart,

signature Melanie in aqua color




Melanie S. PickettMelanie Pickett is a mom, second wife, and domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor who’s living her second calling as a writer and speaker. Melanie has battled Crohn’s disease and complications for over 20 years. Having survived a 15-year abusive first marriage, Melanie shares with her readers what she learned through that experience to encourage and inspire others. Melanie has been featured on Huffington Post, The Mighty, Splickety Magazine, Whole Magazine, and Sonoma Christian Home where she’s an Associate Intern Editor. Melanie’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her teenage children, husband, and black pug Gracie. She also loves to read, enjoy the beach and Great Lake near her home, workout (when health allows), and dabble in photography. One of Melanie’s favorite quotes is “We were born to be real, not to be perfect.”

You can follow Melanie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and her personal Blog.

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