Is love blind? Does love make people act crazy, or into fools?
So often in our line of work, we encounter people (usually women), who make choices and engage in behaviors that are unlike themselves for the sake of a relationship. This may look like getting involved with a bad crowd or even a gang lifestyle.
It can also look like dabbling with drugs, or alcohol. Too often, the women we work with are using drugs, alcohol or making wrong choices as a result of abusive relationships.
So these sayings - like being "Crazy in Love," can be misleading, and they are NO EXCUSE to turn a blind eye toward abuse.
There are warning signs, however, that you can be on the lookout for. If any of these sounds familiar, or is even present in your relationship -- it may be time to seek help.
1. Too Many “Accidents”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline classifies abuse as any repetitive pattern of behavior to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These behaviors can run anywhere from psychological or emotional abuse to physical violence.
The most obvious physical signs, then, are injuries that can't be explained. Does your loved one have bruises or bumps caused by 'mysterious' injuries that seem frequent and out of character?
Because abuse can be psychological or verbal, evidence may not always come in the form of a black eye or broken bones. Remember - it's about POWER and CONTROL. Abusive behaviors arouse fear and are meant to prevent a person from freely doing what they wish.
Allstate Foundation's Click to Empower Program points out that those who are in abusive relationships often become socially withdrawn, and may cease going out on their own.
3. Frequently MIA from Responsibilities
Frequently, physical or verbal abuse is accompanied by economic or financial abuse. Especially if one partner is the breadwinner of the relationship, finances are an easy way to manipulate and control the victim.This kind of abuse may look like the victim is unable to maintain her responsibilities - like school, or bills or other obligations - when in reality her financial independence and choice-making ability has been taken from her.
4. Drastic Personality Changes
Did your friend or loved one used to be outspoken, vivacious and extroverted? Has she become withdrawn, inhibited or lacking in esteem in confidence in her relationship?
It can be difficult for a victim to maintain a balanced emotional state when she is living in a state of volatility and chaos in her relationship.
5. Lack of Financial Independence
According to Allstate Foundation’s Click to Empower Program, a potential victim will have limited to denied access to money or credit cards and/or needs to constantly justify their spending to their partner. A clear warning sign of financial abuse is if one partner worries excessively about how the other will react to their spending - especially when it's on every day items, like groceries.
Is jealousy present in this relationship?
Julie M. Rodriguez discusses excessive jealousy in her piece for Care 2 Causes. She notes that the most common manifestation of this warning sign is when one partner must defend him or herself against accusations of infidelity.
Possessiveness is another type of jealousy - if your loved one is barraged by calls, texts and/or emails from their partner, supposedly to ‘check in’ on them, or demanding to know where he or she is - this is possessiveness, and its goal is to intimidate and control the victim.
7. Your Gut Tells You Something Is Wrong
You know your loved one best. Do you feel uncomfortable when you see your loved one with his/her partner? Or, do you feel uncomfortable telling others about the things you are experiencing in your own relationship?
If something doesn't ‘feel right’ and you have a sinking feeling in your gut, then listen to it, and contact a professional for help.
Remember: Abuse doesn't discriminate. Victims can come from any education level, age, sexual orientation and/or gender.
If someone you care about - including yourself - is in danger, help is available 24/7 from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
To receive more tips, strategies and information on abuse, relationships, trauma or addiction, just sign up here.