As an abuse survivor, I began looking back at my life to see how I got there. I didn’t just wake up one day in an abusive relationship. The layers I am peeling back are a much longer story, but it started with my definition of love being distorted at a very early age. For me, it wasn’t one big thing that happened, as a child, that I can point to that caused me to become that person. It was a million little things. That were just subtle enough to not be perceived as a problem at the time. But overtime, layer upon layer they escalated into the big thing-my darkest moments.
I still couldn’t recognize it- until I was out of it. Looking back- hearing the truth about love- real love, biblical love; God’s love. I began the process of peeling back those layers- digging in and taking a deep dive to figure it all out. I still don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, but I can see the big picture forming. I know it’s going to all come together someday, but it probably won’t be this side of Heaven. I do know all of Heaven is celebrating with me each time my healing goes a little deeper. I also know the enemy is lurking and attacking me each time I get a little closer, because he knows I am that much closer to helping someone else.
I feel compelled to share what I am learning about the subtleties of abuse, and the red flags, I could only see in hindsight. I share my story to make others aware, to break the generational cycles and repetitive abusive relationships, that will only continue if we don’t shed light on them. I will shout it from the mountaintops if I need to- just to be heard. It’s important to speak up and speak out to help other women who might be experiencing some of the abuse I endured and allowed in the name of love.
Not all abuse is as obvious as a black eye. In my case, the abuse came in the form of control and manipulation. The abuser knows all the right things to say- it’s called ‘grooming’ their prey/victim. They learn all too well how to sweep us off our feet and make us think they are in love with us so they can put us in a position to do anything they ask so we won’t be rejected. This type of emotional and mental abuse can ultimately lead to other forms as well including physical or in my case sexual abuse.
Here are a few of the red flags I experienced:
- Said ‘I love you’ too early in relationship
- Overly romantic
- Verbal criticisms (loss of self-esteem, belittlement, shame)
- Picked out all my clothes
- Wanted to know everything about my past and then used the info against me
- Said if I loved him, I would do anything for him
- Isolation from friends/family
This is not a complete list- if you are interested in learning more about the red flags and read more about my experience – you can request a free copy of my e-book, From Victim to Victor- recognizing the red flags of abuse.
For me, a big key to my healing has been validation. I blamed myself for so long- but it is never the victims’ fault. I hope something I said shined a light on other forms of abuse- awareness and recognition are important to help break the chains. If you resonate with any of these signs in a past or current relationship, please seek a counselor or other professional for help.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. I Corinthians 13:4-5