A short story anthology I'm a part of, You & Me Forever, releases in just a few hours. My story, "Down This Road" is about Sophie, a carefree girl who wants all the fun living on her own has to offer. But the longer she enjoys her newfound freedom, the more she realizes how much her overbearing boyfriend has been deliberately holding her back. On a weekend camping trip, things reach a boiling point when her boyfriend's actions shock her into reality. She no longer can ignore the signs that she's in a toxic relationship.
Now, this story isn't about me, but it probably wouldn't surprise you to know that I was in a long-term, emotionally abusive relationship. For what seems like a lifetime ago, I was blinded by dreamy blue-green eyes and subtle manipulation. Early on, my family and friends tried to warn me that I was slipping away into the grip of someone that didn't respect me the way I deserved. By the time I'd realized it for myself, three years had gone by and I'd felt like it was too late. I'd built my life around this guy and his friends and his world was literally my world. All of my favorite things, my thoughts, my dreams - I'd let them be controlled by him. So without him...I'd be nothing. That's what I'd thought anyway. It took almost a year after that to escape his unrelenting charm, threats, and wrath. Somehow, he'd managed to convince me that if I'd left him, I would lose everything. He promised he would make that his personal mission. And he did.
But more on that another time.
I think the reason it took me so long to realize I was in an abusive relationship was because, for the most part, he wasn't very physical with me. When I was in the relationship, no one really talked about emotional or psychological abuse. But in the last ten years, much more research has been done and experts have brought this issue to light.
While "Down This Road" has a potentially happy ending, there are several signs in Sophie and Rylan's relationship of emotional abuse:
Constant fighting. Couples will have an occasional fight, but much more often than not, they get along and enjoy each other's company.
Humiliation and embarrassment. This is one way abusers will keep a hold of you. They will put you down and play on your insecurities to make you think you are lucky to be in the relationship with them.
Moodiness. You'll often notice that when YOU are out having a good time, or the attention is on YOU, your abuser will act unhappy and try to bring your attention back to them.
They're hypercritical. Of your friends, your family, your job, your favorite show, anything you like to do in your spare time that doesn't involve them.
Guilt trips. Something bad happens, and it's probably your fault because you weren't willing to "compromise" or you "made the wrong decision".
Always trying to keep tabs on you. How dare you let your phone die or ignore their texts while you're at the movies. You're abuser is only trying to make sure you're safe, after all.
Constantly making fun of you and passing it off as jokes.
Using "If you love me" as an excuse to make you do/buy things/go places you wouldn't normally go.
Any physical touch of any kind that isn't out of love. (slapping, scratching, squeezing, shoving, ect.)
These are only a select few signs that you are in trouble, and that I was able to illustrate in Sophie's story. Don't waste years of your life being held captive by an abuser. There is so much more to life than one person that doesn't deserve you. For more information visit Psych Central.
Emotional Abuse Hotline
Be sure to get your copy of You & Me Forever to hear Sophie's story. Available for free where ever online books are sold.