Domestic Violence and Abuse Awareness Month
October is the official domestic violence and abuse awareness month, and it’s important to recognize the signs of abuse that can arise in the beginning of a relationship.
Domestic abuse isn’t something that starts in a relationship straight away. Abusers use calculated tactics and control devices that have always worked for them. It’s a slow process and oftentimes by the time we realize what’s going on – it’s too late.
Girl, you are too good for that. Here are a few super subtle signs and tactics that abusers use from the beginning.
Subtle Signs of Domestic Violence (That Aren’t Physical)
1. Lovebombing/Moving The Relationship Quickly
Is it too good to be true? If it’s the third date and he’s talking about marriage, moving in together, or hinting he’s ready to drop the L-bomb – RUN.
Lovebombing is a tactic abusers use to win you over. They’ll say things like:
“I’ve never felt like this before.”
“You’re not like anybody I’ve ever met.”
“I never wanted to get married, but I could see myself with you forever.”
Seriously. It’s all designed to make you feel special and eventually that goes away. His mask slips off, and you start to miss when he made you feel special – and start wondering what you’re doing wrong. This usually goes hand-in-hand with ‘breadcrumbing’ – where he feeds you little bread crumbs of affection to keep you hooked, and to keep you feeling you need to win his approval.
What is negging? Negging is a form of weird back-handed compliments that hold a personal attack.
What is the point of negging? To keep you seeking approval from this person. That half-handed compliment gives you the idea that you COULD please them – they COULD be proud of you – but that you have to work harder. They’ll compare you to others, one-up you, and invalidate you.
Examples of negging are:
“Wow – you look great! I’d never have the courage to wear that outfit.”
“Your friend is in great shape. Maybe you should ask her about her workout routine.”
“That meal looks super tasty. Are you going to eat the whole thing, though?”
Get out at the first sign of negging. Seriously. These halfway compliments are designed to tear you down, and you are better than that.
Ah yes – gaslighting! You’ve probably seen and heard this word floating around a lot more recently. Why? Because women are waking up to this behaviour. Gaslighting is designed to make you think you’re always wrong – you’re always the one apologizing.
Abusers use gaslighting as an escape from accountability when they’re wrong. Narcissists believe they can do no wrong. It’s always going to be your fault, you will always be seeking approval. If you feel like you’re always the one doing something wrong in the relationship, he’s probably gaslighting you into feeling that way.
He may say things like:
“I’m sorry you think I hurt you.”
“That never happened.”
Gaslighting will make you question yourself, your emotions, your memory about events, and your perception. It’s designed to make you second-guess yourself constantly.
4. Jealousy and Isolation
Does he dislike your friends? Is he jealous of that male friend you’ve known since kindergarten? How about your family members?
Jealousy and isolation is an awful sign of manipulation. Your man will keep you from your community, from the people who would and should otherwise warn you of his tactics. He’ll pout, he’ll stomp, he’ll threaten to leave, he’ll guilt you by saying things like everybody has ever abandoned him – walk away. Run. Leave. This manipulation gets worse.
Resources For Escaping An Abusive Relationship
No matter where you are in Canada, there’s always resources for ending and escaping an abusive relationship.
Remember: domestic violence is most likely to increase on your way out the door.
If you’re in an abusive situation, make a plan. Don’t give him any warning that you’re on your way out. If you have to pack and move your things – plan it for when he’s out of the house. Don’t tell him where you’re going. Find support and resources.
Avoiding Abusive Relationships
Why do we fall for these subtle tactics in the first place?
Typically it has to do with the way we were raised. If we were raised in households where we weren’t allowed to set boundaries, speak up for ourselves, where our accomplishments were discredited, or our parents were too tough on us – those problems will carry forward our entire life.
Think about it – you bring home your report card in middle school and you get a B average. Your dad looks at you and says, “Why couldn’t you get an A?” That behaviour sets us up to constantly seek approval.
Escaping that mentality is a process.
Here’s some ways to build ourselves up later on in life to avoid falling into these patterns.
Recognize It Off The Bat
Spend the time to learn what abusive behaviour looks like from the beginning. Speak to women in your community – build your community of women. Look for the signs right away. Really research these tactics and do not be afraid to walk away at the first sight of manipulation.
Take relationships slow! Remember, if he wants to move in right away – this is a sign of both lovebombing, and traps you emotionally and financially.
Don’t Be Afraid To Spend Time Alone
Actually, spend time alone. Enjoy independence and autonomy. Decorate your space how you’d like – buy the decorative pillows. Eat what you want when you want. Buy yourself flowers. Sleep in your bed alone every night and feel what it’s like to sleep in the middle without worrying about kicking somebody out onto the floor.
Find hobbies – read, play music, take up a sport. Spend time with your own company and learn to love it.
Set (and Keep) Boundaries – Everywhere
Did you grow up never being allowed to say ‘no’? That’s not uncommon. Frequently as children we’re not allowed to express when we don’t want to do something. It’s time to learn how to better set boundaries as an adult.
Say no. Say no wherever applicable. Did somebody offer you a drink in a bar and you don’t want it? No. Does your boss want you to stay late but you’re busy? No. Did somebody ask you to borrow money? No.
No is a complete sentence.
Especially when it comes to dating. Oftentimes we make excuses when we don’t want to date somebody – “No, I have a boyfriend.” “No, I’m busy that night.” When we give a detailed response it gives an opportunity to find a way around that no. “Oh, call me if it doesn’t work out.” “How about another night?”
No. Just say no. Learn how to set, and work on keeping that boundary.
Build Up Your Confidence
At the end of all of this – you are better than that manipulation. If you take care of yourself, have a decent job, a space to call home, savings account – you should be oozing with self-confidence. If you’re not, take a look at yourself in the mirror.
You are powerful.
You are strong.
You are worthy.
You deserve nothing but the best. You are nothing but the best.
Boudoir and Self Confidence
People new to boudoir tend to have the same questions, the same fears and concerns …
“Am I fit enough?”
“Am I pretty enough?”
“Could I ever do boudoir?”
It takes self confidence to try boudoir … but boudoir also GIVES self confidence.