According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 women, 1 in 4 men, and 1 in 2 transgender identifying individuals will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. Many people date around while attending university, yet most people do not know how to recognize the signs of relationship abuse. The One Love Foundation, an organization that works to end relationship abuse, lists these ten red flags to look for in your relationships:
1) Intensity – When someone expresses very extreme feelings and over-the-top behavior that feels overwhelming. Things are getting too intense if you feel like someone is rushing the pace of the relationship (comes on too strong, too fast) and seems obsessive about wanting to see you and be in constant contact.
2) Possessiveness – When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do. While jealousy is a normal human emotion, it becomes unhealthy when it causes someone to control or lash out at you. This means getting upset when you text or hang out with people they feel threatened by, wrongly accusing you of flirting or cheating or even going so far as to stalk you. Possessiveness is often excused as being overprotective or having really strong feelings for someone.
3) Manipulation – When someone tries to control your decisions, actions or emotions. Manipulation is often hard to spot, because it can be expressed in subtle or passive-aggressive ways. You know you are being manipulated if someone is trying to convince you to do things you don’t feel comfortable doing, ignores you until they get their way, or tries to influence your feelings.
4) Isolation – When someone keeps you away from friends, family or other people. This behavior often starts slowly with someone asking you to spend more one-on-one time with them but can later escalate to demands that you don’t see certain people. Often, they will ask you to choose between them and your friends, insist that you spend all your time with them, or make you question your own judgment of friends and family. If you are experiencing isolation, you may end up feeling like you are dependent on your partner for love, money or acceptance.
5) Sabotage – When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements or success. Sabotage includes keeping you from doing things that are important to you. Behaviors like talking behind your back, starting rumors or threatening to share private information about you, is also sabotage.
6) Belittling – When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself. This includes name-calling, making rude remarks about people you’re close with or criticizing you. It is also belittling when someone makes fun of you in a way that makes you feel bad, even if it is played off as a joke. Over time, this can make you lose confidence in yourself or your abilities.
7) Guilting – When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it is your job to keep them happy. They may blame you for things that are out of your control and make you feel bad for them. This includes threatening to hurt themselves or others if you do not do as they say or stay with them. They might also pressure you to do something that you are not comfortable with by claiming that it is important to them or that it will hurt their feelings if you do not do it.
8) Volatility – When someone has a strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated. A volatile person makes you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around them or they will have extreme reactions to small things. Your relationship with them might feel like a rollercoaster that contains extreme ups and downs. They may overreact to small things, have major mood swings or lose control by getting violent, yelling or threatening you.
9) Deflecting Responsibility – When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behavior. They may blame you or other people for their own actions. Often, this includes making excuses based on alcohol or drug use, mental health issues or past experiences (like a cheating ex or divorced parents).
10) Betrayal – When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way. They may act like a different person around other people or share private information about you to others. It also includes lying, purposely leaving you out, being two-faced, or cheating on you.
Recognize these signs in your relationships or in the relationships of your friends. If you are in an abusive relationship it’s important to remember that you did nothing to deserve that. There are numerous reasons abusive individuals act that way, but what is important is that you acknowledge abuse took place and focus on moving forward with your life.
If you are interested in hosting a One Love workshop, please feel free to check out the One Love Foundation website: joinonelove.org/education/.
The One Love Foundation is interested in bringing educational opportunities to student groups who are interested in learning more about healthy relationships. Everyone does unhealthy things in relationships. Nobody is perfect, but we can all learn to love better and have healthier relationships.