Don’t live with the abuse

By: Megan Graves, Columnist

Relationships are tricky. They’re complex, intimate and confusing. They can be calm and warm or wild and exciting or any sticky, sappy combination imaginable. No matter what the relationships in your life are (or have been or can be), they never have to be abusive or unhealthy.

October, along with being the spookiest and best-smelling month, is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

When we think of abuse, often the first form that comes to mind is physical. Whenever we see an abusive relationship depicted in film, it’s typically someone (usually a woman) being hit by someone (usually a man). Overtime, that’s kind of molded into our general idea of what abuse is.

However, this is so far from the truth. Abuse isn’t any one thing.

Abuse is controlling. Control manifests in your partner telling you what you can or can’t wear, who you can or can’t hang out with and where you can or can’t go. Think about things like catching your partner reading your text messages.

Abuse is coercive. When your partner pressures you into doing something you don’t want to do or threatens you in any way, if your partner pressures you to have sex after you have said no: these are abusive behaviors.
Abuse is oppressive. If your partner talks down to you or tells you that you aren’t good enough. If they get angry with you because you didn’t answer their texts or if they belittle you for doing something that you like, it is abusive.

It’s often difficult to identify an abusive relationship from the inside. While these are some examples of red flags that your relationship is unhealthy, the best way to determine if your relationship is right for you is to honestly think about how your partner makes you feel.

If you find yourself crying over them or feeling low because of them more often than not, if your relationship is more stressful than it is fun, and if you refrain from doing something important to you because you’re afraid of how your partner will react, then that relationship isn’t healthy.

A healthy relationship is one built on trust, respect and support. It’s a bond that allows for open communication, no restrictions and unyielding support. It should build you up and make you feel confident, like you’re capable of anything. You should never change yourself to fit another person’s desired mold. If you feel unappreciated, self-conscious, or afraid because of your relationship, it is time to move on.

Admitting that your relationship isn’t healthy can be damn hard. Your mind is telling you to get the heck out, but your heart hasn’t quite gotten the memo yet. But look, if it doesn’t make you feel good, it isn’t worth your time, your love, or your health. Seriously.

Never settle, and never let the impending doom of temporary heartbreak stop you from finding your happiness. Trust me, a few weeks, a couple bottles of wine and about a dozen bags of potato chips can mend a heart like no other. Those weeks are tough, I know. But you are strong and you can do it. You owe it to yourself to be happy, whether that means spending some time alone or finding a partner who truly loves you and wants the best for you.

If things escalate or you worry that safety or your health are in danger, don’t hesitate to take action. A good first step can be blocking their means of contact with you. Block them on social media and block their telephone number. If that doesn’t end it, you can get a peace order from the court and get the police involved.

I mentioned Turn Around as being a great source for survivors of sexual assault, and it’s also a great source for survivors of relationship violence. Their 24/7 hotline can be reached at 443-279-0379.

It is okay to ask for help, and it is okay to put your happiness first.

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