Contributed by Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society
“Back then I felt just utterly hopeless, distraught, and life just being life at that point. I didn’t really see a future.” – previous client of the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter.
Toxic relationships often make you feel like you’re crazy. What you think is a reasonable issue to discuss with your partner is twisted against you, making you second-guess yourself and slowly your self-esteem deteriorates.
Gaslighting is the term for a manipulation tactic used to gain power. The abusive partner justifies their behaviour in a seemingly reasonable way. They twist words, recreate a past event that makes you question your memory, deflect away from their bad behaviour using lies, or minimize your concerns to make you feel like you’re being over-sensitive.
Reflect on how your interaction with your partner could have been diffused without making you feel like you’re wrong or that you shouldn’t have brought it up. Communication is vital in a relationship and should not never be shamed.
In relationships we’re told it’s normal to have ups and downs and that we need to work on them. But when this approach is taken in an abusive scenario, partners stay and do the work and blame themselves when nothing changes.
Love is meant to be supportive. We want our partners to provide strength and comfort to us and yet often, in abusive relationships, we’re left with anxiety.
Some feelings you may have in an abusive relationship:
· Lack of interest in hobbies and life
· Concentration is difficult
· Your work is impacted
· You want to avoid people
· You feel unsupported and isolated
· You’re more forgetful
· You feel scared of being trapped
· You’re anxious
· Can’t sleep or you sleep more than normal
· Don’t feel like yourself
· Don’t value yourself
The stress of living in an abusive relationship can have impacts on your health. This includes depression, the need to withdraw socially and the impacts from that, high blood pressure and increased anxiety.
Women who are in abusive relationships may also change as a person as they modify their behaviour to keep safe. Someone who was outgoing may choose not to go out with friends so as not to have to deal with their unhappy partner.
Signs of an abusive relationship can be:
· Humiliating you
· Constant criticism and put-downs
· Shutting down communication
· Withdrawal of affection
· Ignoring or excluding you
· Cheating or flirting with other people
· Sarcastic or rude tone of voice
· Unreasonable jealousy
· Guilt trips
· Excessive moodiness
· Mean jokes or making fun of you
· Making everything your fault
· Isolating you from friends and family
· Using money to control
· Excessive calling or texting when you are not with them
· Threatening to commit suicide if you leave
Information is one of the best forms of defense. Check out our website at revelstokewomensshelter.com. If you need immediate help the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter crisis line on 250-837-1111. You may also use this line to reach out to staff for support and conversations are always confidential.
Recommended reading: (Both available at Revelstoke Library. You can put a hold on these if they are checked out)
Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft: Explains what goes on inside the minds of men who control and tear down their partners.
When Love Hurts by Jill Cory and Karen McAndlee-Davis: Helps to clear your confusion and show you paths to regain control of your life. Includes helpful lists and worksheets to learn and see how you’re being impacted.