Abusive Relationships/Is this abuse?
I'm a 21 year old college student who just recently got out of a 1.5 year relationship. He ended up leaving me. My friends, counselor, pretty much everyone defines my ex as abusive but I'm afraid they're bias. I just want the truth. We fought nearly all of the time, he would call me names (whore, stupid fucking bitch, crazy, etc), he locked me out of the house numerous times when he was upset (it wasn't my house, and I had elsewhere I could go), whenever I would try to address an issue in the relationship he would shut down and refuse to talk about it. He oftentimes said "I always have a problem." I would cry a lot because I felt something he said was insensitive or hurtful, but I am a sensitive person. When he yelled I would be terrified, but he never caused me physical harm. Although, my fear may have been related to my past. However, he's said things to me that make me scared that maybe I'm the abusive one. He's said I always have a problem, that I don't care about his feelings, that nothing he does is good enough. All I ever cared about were his feelings and working things out. I don't understand why he felt that nothing he did was good enough...my issue was that he didn't contribute at all to the relationship. I drove 1.5 hours every weekend to see him, took us out on dates, paid for everything, sent him just random messages to let him know I care. When we fought, I would always come to him to try and work matters out calmly. It was always like talking to a brick wall. I put in effort, he sincerely didn't. He would tell me that he felt he was walking on egg shells all the time. I sincerely don't understand. I'm sure I've made mistakes in the relationship, but to cause harm was never my intent. I was oftentimes afraid to give my opinion on something because his way is always right/better and the last thing I wanted to do was upset him. If he got upset, I knew the entire day would be ruined. I've broken up with him when he's called me names or hurt me terribly and I came crawling back several times...I know that caused him pain. What I'm struggling with is that I know there are different sides to every story. And I'm going online to try and answer 'emotional abuse' criteria with how I think he'd respond about me. Abusive or not, I know he wasn't a good boyfriend to me. But I don't want to be abusive if I am, and he's put this worry into me. Do you think I'm abusive? Is he abusive? He left me, so it makes me question it even further. I just feel that I can't move on until I know the truth.
Thank you for writing and asking these very good questions. Relationships are challenging under the best of circumstances but when abuse enters into the picture, confusion and self-doubt usually sets in. That is one way to tell if you are in an abusive relationship. People learn from each other and relationships help each other grow and acquire insight about themselves and the world in positive ways. If that isn’t happening, then you are most likely in an off balance or abusive relationship with one person dominating and controlling the other person.
I am so sorry that you experience this type of abuse but learning from this experience will provide you with a better understanding of what a healthy relationship is and help you walk away from abuse when it happens the next time. No one deserves to be called these type of names no matter how angry the other person is. This the first sign of abuse—name calling. And then locking you out of the house numerous times and not wanting to talk about issues—these actions are NOT healthy in a relationship and show NO show respect for you, your concerns or needs.
Being sensitive is not having a problem like he claims. The problem lies with him and is common for people as such to blame the other person because of them feeling inadequate and not having good communication skills. Feeling scared or fear from his anger and not wanting to express your opinion are also signs of being in an abusive relationship. Anger, name calling and shutting you out are techniques used many times to try to gain control over you or the situation—this relationship appears to be a one way relationship. Healthy communication focuses on resolving issues together and working on meeting both needs whereas yelling at you and not wanting to talk does NOT.
Learning about healthy relationships and good communication will help you recognize unhealthy relationships so you can walk away from them quickly. Just because he broke up with you doesn’t mean that it is your fault and you are the abusive one. People as such break up to try to regain control over you and the relationship to try to make you feel bad. There is nothing you can do for people as such—they usually never change and learn better communication skills.
I am glad to hear that you know that this relationship is not good for you. Taking this to heart and staying away from his is a very good goal! Learn from this situation and learn to build up your boundaries and when people do not treat you with respect, walk away.
Thank you for writing and remember, you deserve to live life with love, peace and joy and you have the power to make that happen. Pick healthy people to be around and walk away from those that are not! Please write again with any further questions.
Much peace to you,
Cathy Backlund, Life Coach, Specializing in Abusive Relationships and Domestic Violence Education