Tag Archives: Subtle Abuse

Are You A Victim Of Subtle Abuse?

When entering a relationship, most people know the obvious signs of abuse – that is, when your partner is verbally berating or physically attacking you on a regular basis. However, the more subtle signs can easily be just as important. Not only are they directly responsible for your personal happiness, but they also have the potential to turn into bigger problems if allowed to continue.

But, how do you know that you’re being abused if the signs are not so obvious? The fact that you’re reading this article tells me you are already aware of certain abusive patterns. If your partner is exhibiting any of the following signs, we urge you to discuss it with them before the problem becomes worse. In some cases, they may be unintentional and talking about them may help. If your partner becomes defensive when the issues are brought up, this is a good sign that it may be time to move on.

Your partner expects you to be faithful to him/her, but cannot offer you the same loyalty.

Some people are simply not cut out for monogamy, and this is fine – if you agree on it. If your partner expects you to commit to them while they can’t, it might be time to pack up your things.

Your partner tries to control who you can spend time with.

Initially, this isn’t likely to be a problem; you will actually agree with her if it’s better that you don’t spend time with that guy down the street who doesn’t “believe” that you’re gay. However, in some cases this can progress to the point where your partner tells you Your best friend doesn’t really care about you, you shouldn’t spend time with her anymore. This can eventually progress to I don’t think your family has your best interests at heart; you should stop talking to them. It’s important to examine all the clues in this scenario: Sometimes, your partner is right! Re-evaluating all of your relationships, whether romantic or familial or even just friendly is an important process. However, if you find that your partner is making these comments without grounds in facts, you may be being controlled.

Your partner expects you to do all the work.

I don’t care if this means that you are the sole wage earner and your partner chooses instead to play video games, or if it means that your partner refuses to do any work around the house, but expects it to be well maintained. An effective relationship is a partnership, and unless you can split the work in a way that satisfies both of you, one of you will become worn out and resentful over time.

Your partner has nothing positive to say about you.

This doesn’t pertain to a simple lack of compliments, which – while potentially hurtful – is not usually an indication of an abusive situation. Rather, I’m talking about their need to point out your flaws, without regard to your feelings. If they are unable to frame their criticism in the form of helpful feedback, it’s likely that they are inclined towards abusive behaviors – keep an eye out, and don’t allow more than you can handle.

Your partner has high demands for your physical appearance.

It’s one thing to want your partner to be attractive – we all do! It’s another thing entirely if your partner demands that you dress a certain way or alter your appearance (hair style, color, weight, etc.) in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. This is a grey area, because only you can determine what you are comfortable with, but a good partner should love you for who you are, not who they want you to be.

Your partner demands sexual activities that you aren’t comfortable with.

This is another grey area, as often we aren’t aware of our “kinks” until we have explored them fully. However, if you have explored something and have found that you truly are not willing to do it, and your partner insists – this is a problem. (Note: This pertains to unwanted sexual advances as well. Just because you and your partner are committed does not mean that they have control over your consent.)

Your partner threatens suicide or violence if you leave her.

This can be an exceptionally tough situation, in my personal experience. There will be part of you that wants to try harder to make the relationship work because, obviously, you truly care about this person, and you don’t want them dead or in jail. However, the only strategy I’ve personally found to overcome this is a willingness to step back, leave the situation, and let someone else handle it. I was lucky enough to have roommates when I was in a less-than-great relationship, and I was able to reach out to that roommate and say, “Hey, she’s locked herself in the bathroom with a knife. Can you please check on her in awhile to make sure she’s okay? It’s not safe for me to be there right now.” That should have been a hint for me to get out, but (like many people in abusive situations) I wasn’t willing to let go yet.

This is in no way to be considered an all-inclusive list, and the decision to continue or stop a relationship is entirely up to the parties involved. Relationships are a very personal matter and no one can evaluate them but you. This is also true if you notice that someone you know has exhibited signs of being abused – no amount of coaxing will get them to leave their partner if they’re not ready. It can be frustrating for those who are only trying to help, but keep in mind that your efforts to help will sound a lot like the claims being made by their partner, and you run the risk of alienating your loved one by pointing this out.

You should also keep in mind that none of these issues, on their own, is automatically a sign of an abusive partner, so tread lightly and ensure that you are properly analyzing the details (preferably on your own at first). This will allow you to make an informed decision, and will help you to understand if these things can be helped (and the relationship saved). However, if your partner is displaying multiple signs from this list, it may be time to let go.

From Victim to Survivor

One in four women will be subject to sexual violence in her lifetime – but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in it.

When I was a teenager, I was a victim of sexual assault. My attacker was someone I had known for most of my life, as is the situation with many sexual assault cases. I choose not to get into the specifics of that particular experience in my life, but instead I would like to share with you some of the ways to move past the “victim” mindset and move into the “survivor” mentality.

First and foremost, if you are experiencing sexual assault (or any type of violence), you need to understand that it is not your fault. Your attacker may place the blame on you, but it is important that you know this is not true.

It doesn’t matter what you were wearing.

It doesn’t matter if you were attracted to the person.

It doesn’t matter if you had said “yes” to them previously, and changed your mind.

No means no.

Whether you say no once or a hundred times, no means no. This is even true if you have said “yes” in the past. Consent over your body is given on a case-by-case basis, and just because someone has had permission to touch you in the past does not automatically mean that they have your permission to touch you now.

In some instances, the perpetrator of sexual violence may use “sexual pressure”. This represents a grey area, because no physical force was used – but they may continually push the issue until you give in. It’s important that you stand your ground. No means no, it doesn’t mean “ask again later”.

It’s not your fault.

Often, in any type of assault scenario, the perpetrator will place the blame on the victim. It’s important to understand that this is a manipulation tactic used to keep you from getting help. It is not your fault, no matter what the person says.

If you end up pressing charges, the people who are fighting the case will do everything in their power to convince you that it was your fault as well. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t believe you. But sexual assault is a serious accusation, and the ability to claim sexual assault when it may have simply been someone who regretted their decision to have sex with that person is very real. They need to be 100% certain that you were, in fact, abused.

There is no excuse for sexual assault.

Many perpetrators argue that the victim “made” them perform the assault, whether they aroused them and didn’t follow through, or they were dressed provocatively, or anything, really. It’s important that you know that sexual frustration does not lead to sexual assault on its own. Sexual assault is not sex – it’s violence.

Regardless of how you choose to dress or how you choose to present yourself, no one has rights over your body except you – even if you’re married or otherwise committed. If someone is forcing themselves on you, there is no scenario in which you “deserve” it.

You are not alone.

As many as one in four people experience some type of sexual assault in their lifetime. Honestly, that’s a scary fact – it means, chances are, in your inner circle of friends, at least one of you either has been attacked or will be attacked in the future.

As scary as this can be for those who have not experienced sexual assault in their lifetime, it is actually a benefit to those who have. This means that you will be able to find someone who has been through it and can offer you their advice. (If you are unable to find someone, I am always available to talk to. Feel free to submit your contact information to the KitschMix website and I will do my best to personally answer you. You should never feel that you are alone in this.)

There are ways you can protect yourself.

While of course we hope that you never need to protect yourself, there are things you can do to help prevent it. Many of them are considered “common knowledge”, yet women may think that they don’t need to exercise these cautions if they are only around people they know and trust. This is not necessarily true, as most acts of violence are committed by someone you trust – you are more likely to have your guard up if you are around people you don’t know and trust.

Since my assault, I rarely leave the house without personal protective devices, such as a knife and pepper spray. Be sure to check your local laws, as even in cases of self-defense, you can get in trouble if you are carrying something that is not legal in your area.

An inability to protect yourself does not mean you are weak, or that you secretly wanted it.

In my situation, the person who initiated the assault told me, flat-out, “It doesn’t matter what you say, because I’m stronger than you.” But, in order to move past the trauma, you will need to regain your ability to feel strong. That doesn’t mean that you were weak in the beginning. It simply means that the other person was able to take advantage of a vulnerability.

Another argument that is often used is that “the body has ways of stopping these things”. This is not necessarily true. Your attacker may try to put it in your mind that you must have wanted it or you would have not let it happen. The truth is, we can have our vulnerabilities exploited, which results in the attacker winning. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you.

Yes, it can still be sexual assault if the perpetrator is female.

There’s this myth that women can’t be rapists – and it’s important that you realize that is entirely untrue. Any sexual conduct that is forced on you is rape, whether the perpetrator was a man or a woman. There have been cases reported where a man is taken advantage of by a woman – but these don’t get as much attention because there’s this misconception that “women can’t rape”. A woman can most certainly rape a man or another woman, even if there was no penetration involved, from either party.

You have the right to seek help.

Unfortunately, in many instances, nothing can be done about sexual assault, as the victim will feel that they are unable to seek help until long after any evidence is gone. Generally speaking, in instances of a man sexually assaulting a woman, there is about a 48-hour window in which you can have a “rape kit” performed, and yield accurate results. In instances where the perpetrator is a female, your window may be even smaller, so it’s important that you act as soon as possible.

In my personal experience, I wasn’t ready to tell anyone what happened until almost a year later. Obviously, this was too late to prosecute the person who assaulted me. However, I was able to open up to a police officer and make a report against the person – and found out that it wasn’t his first offense. If a report is filed, the authorities are more likely to take future accusations seriously, and while you may never get your own justice, you could be helping to save someone else.

You deserve better.

If the person who is (or was) performing the sexual assault on you is a friend, family, or lover – you have the right to terminate the relationship. You don’t owe them an explanation. They don’t deserve to be in your life if they can’t treat you with respect.

No person who truly loves you would put you through the trauma of sexual assault, even if you are married or committed to them. If they loved you, they wouldn’t have done it, and they wouldn’t even consider doing it. There is no such thing as a basic animal instinct that prevents us from knowing right from wrong.

You are not doomed to be “a victim” for the rest of your life.

Certainly, there will be a period of time where you feel that you have had a piece of yourself stolen from you. This is a completely natural response to a traumatic situation. However, you don’t have to live in that place for the rest of your life – you can move forward and regain control of your life.

One of the first steps you’ll need to do in order to stop being a “victim” and start being a “survivor” is to talk to someone about it. Trust me, I know it can be hard, especially if the trauma is still fresh – but the sooner you tell someone, the more likely they can help you. I waited to tell, and the problem continued for months – causing further agony. If I had spoken up sooner, someone could have helped me put a stop to it.

If you have been assaulted…

I invite you to share your story with me. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can submit an anonymous comment on this page and I will personally respond to it. I have been through this and I know how hard it can be. But you are beautiful, you are loved, and you deserve to be a Survivor.