I just wanted to share this link to this article: “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality” from the blog “Emerging from Broken.”
The article talks more about Red Flags when it comes to men and relationships (for my own post on recognizing these signs in my domestically violent ex, see here).
There are also some great comments underneath the “Dangerous Men” article, where survivors of abuse share their stories of how, after being trained by abuse, we allow ourselves to overlook red flags. This is a great site to know that none of us are alone. We’ve all overlooked Red Flags in relationships, or with abusers, whether because we blamed ourselves, thought we weren’t good enough, thought our abuser was right about us, etc. But none of us are to blame.
For me, the red flags were mostly verbal at first. I feel like that’s how most abusers start. They begin with little things, things they can pass off as “jokes” or as my “overreacting.” They test the waters, as they get away with more and more, they begin to escalate the abuse. Until it can result in physical attacks, etc.
I had several red flags about my ex-boyfriend. First, the gut feeling in my stomach. But he seemed to really like me, he seemed to treat me really well. He’d liked me for a long time, and bla bla and other justifications. Once he got me to date him, the situation changed. He started subtly cutting me down; constantly calling me “ridiculous” or “clumsy,” laughing at me when I’d trip, embarrassing me in front of my friends when I’d say something silly. All under the cover of “joking.” I blamed myself. Why was I such a clumsy, awkward person? I thought. It got to the point where I could hardly cook or do anything with him around, because I’d start shaking so much from nerves.
Eventually, the problem escalated, to the point where he assaulted me one night. Way later than I should have, I broke up with him. But even then, I never knew what the relationship really was until afterwards, when I was looking up domestic violence online. The truth is, we blame ourselves when we shouldn’t.
These people who abuse us are master manipulators. We just have to have faith in ourselves and love for ourselves, not critique, and that will guide us the way we need to go.