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This is not a paranormal blog. Yet, the horror is real.
So...you’ve fallen in love. You just can’t stop thinking about that person. Just can’t. You yearn for those moments of togetherness. You can’t imagine a life without him/her. You feel you can battle the whole world for this one person; you can do anything for his/her happiness. Ah! Falling in love is the best narcotic isn’t it?
In a good relationship, the heady feeling settles down. Contentment envelops you; your love no longer rages like a lava-spewing volcano. Instead it is a warm fire on a cold winter night. To get to that point, it takes years of togetherness. It takes some amount of taking each other for granted. But when does something so beautiful turn into a terrifying ordeal? When does it become a game of control – a nightmare for one person? They say when you are in the eye of a storm; everything appears calm around you, even though you are in mortal danger. Similarly, when you are a victim of abuse, you start justifying the abuser’s actions. You start rationalising the abusive behaviour, and start reasoning that you perhaps deserve the abuse. You become a victim before you know it, and getting out takes a lot of strength and courage.
Take a look at this checklist.
1) Are you tense all the time? Tense because you worry about meeting your partner – you wonder what new tantrum will come up? You no longer feel the pleasure in anticipating a meeting – you just feel a dreadful uneasiness.
2) Are you always questioned in an accusatory manner? ‘Why are you silent?’ ‘I guess you are bored with me.’ ‘You are more interested in talking to your friends, than talking to me.’ Your conversations are more of giving ‘answers’ to such questions.
3) You notice your personality has changed. Prior to meeting your partner, you were probably cheerful, smiled a lot and had a lot of friends. Now you rarely smile; you’ve lost interest in some of your hobbies; you just prefer to keep busy.
4) On days when you don’t meet your partner, there is a sense of relief.
5) Your partner has made you change the way you dress (especially for girls). You stop wearing your favourite clothes because it annoys your boyfriend.
6) You’ve cut off friends from your life because your partner does not like you to mix with them.
7) You are often questioned on your proximity with friends of the opposite sex.
8) Your partner often threatens to harm himself/herself if you don’t obey him/her.
9) Your partner believes you owe him/her your pin number, passwords, phone access etc. And yes, he/she reads your emails and texts WITHOUT your permission.
10) Your partner gets angry when you decide to do something on your own, without involving him/her.
11) Your schedule, your routine, your habits – everything is now centred around what your partner likes.
12) There is pressure on you to have sex whether you are up to it or not.
13) Your partner demeans you in front of his/her friends, and when you protest, it is laughed off.
14) Your partner has a lot of conditions on where you can go, at what time you can go, whom you can meet, where you can work and so on. You no longer recognise yourself; your identity has been erased systematically.
15) You feel tired, dragged down in the relationship – you are constantly watching what you say and how you behave.
16) At some point, fear seeps in – you are afraid of your partner
17) Your partner forces you take leave from work or bunk classes in college, even though you hate to do it; and it affects your progress.
18) Your partner accompanies you EVERYWHERE. He/she’s there - waiting at the office reception, college gate, bus stand – just everywhere. You feel plagued by his/her presence.
19) Your partner insists on joining you whenever you plan to go out with office colleagues or other friends. You are never allowed your ‘own’ time.
20) Whenever you ‘break up’ you are bombarded with apologies and tears that you feel ‘sorry’ and get back together, even though you know the pitfalls.
The list is endless, but if you’ve nodded along to even SOME of the points – you are in danger. It is better to get out before things go out of hand. But why do people play into the hands of these abusers?
Well firstly, our idea of ‘love’ is rather filmy. Innumerable is the times I’ve heard the phrase ‘Oh! I can change him/her’. No, you can’t. An abuser has severe psychological aberrations. In some cases, the causes could be extreme inferiority complex, a self-loathing and insecurity. These are usually deep-rooted issues, and manifest in the form of aggression and violence. Such people require therapy – so you are tragically mistaken if you think that by giving up a lot of things as a ‘sacrifice’, your partner will change. You are just feeding into the aggression, and entering into an emotional quicksand yourself.
Usually abusers are charming and at the beginning of the relationship, their attention is extremely flattering. You feel very special that someone absolutely dotes on you. It is very satisfying to the ego to know you are the centre of existence for someone, and that someone obsesses over you. All else pales in front of this pin-point focus of attention on you. Nonetheless keep your eyes open for the tell-tale signs. These abusers are usually lonely and have very few friends. They have abnormally strong sexist and racist views. They wallow in self-pity. They sulk when in the company of your friends; and are strangely judgemental about most of your friends. They call you at odd hours, knowing you’ll get into trouble with your folks. They text you obsessively. They hound you on social networking sites. Their mood swings are unmanageable – raging at one moment, crying and pleading the next.
All this ‘control’ business starts off gradually and you go along thinking ‘It’s okay, I’m making him/her happy’. Understand that in a good relationship – making the other person happy should make you happy – and it is never at the cost of your dignity, self-respect or space. So if you are asked to cut off certain friends or anything irrational – be aware that by acceding to this request, you’ve only demeaned yourself, and given more power to your partner.
As time goes by the victim is entrapped spectacularly; there seems to be no way out because the abuser constantly threatens to commit suicide. By now, for the abuser, it is no longer about love or the lover. It purely becomes a power play where he/she gets the kicks from controlling.
It is always prudent to break off at the first sign of ‘I don’t want you to wear skirts’ or ‘I will slash myself if you don’t say ‘I love you’’. Always, always listen to yourself, examine your feelings and don’t take yourself for granted. If you do – then someone is always out there to take you for granted. Remember that in a good relationship – one that is built on mutual love, respect and trust - there is room for negotiation, adjustment, compromise, even sacrifice to a certain extent – but there is no room for control, fear and humiliation.
You can read up real life experiences here and here. See the diagram above - it is a WHEEL for a reason because it is indeed a cycle of violence - the victim goes back to the abuser again and again. Make no mistake - if your are being 'controlled' today, it won't be long before the physical violence commences.
So...does he/she love you or possess you? Know the difference. Be safe.
© Sumana Khan - 2012