Entering a new relationship can be one of the most exciting times in your life. But what do you do if you start to see a dark side in your partner? Unfortunately, too many young women have experienced some form of abusive dating behavior, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Don’t let this happen to you; know the signs and stop an abusive relationship before it goes too far.
Excessive intrusion. A potentially abusive partner may find ways to invade your privacy. If your significant other is constantly hacking into your cell phone or your e-mail account to see who you are talking to, start by letting him or her know how it violates your trust. If your partner is unapologetic and continues, it may be a sign of controlling behavior.
Constant insults. Destructive partners may verbally abuse you in order to lower your self-esteem and prevent you from leaving the relationship. By frequently pointing out nonexistent flaws in your appearance, intelligence and personality, this person gains the upper-hand.
Unpredictable temper. Uncontrollable mood swings may indicate mental instability. Is your partner jealous and insecure when you mention other friends or relationships? Does he or she become angry and possessive when you are out together? If you feel like you’re walking on egg shells, you will not want to be there when your partner finally hits a breaking point.
Need for control. By trying to make your decisions for you, your partner is sending a signal that you cannot make decisions on your own. He or she may tell you what to eat at a restaurant, what to drink at a bar, what to wear when you go out, which friends and family members you can speak to and where you can go. Isolating you from friends and family minimizes the chances of your leaving the relationship.
How to get help. If you want to leave an abusive relationship but are not sure how to safely do so, visit www.loveisrespect.org. The site features resources to help you build a support system and information on legal measures you can take.
If you both attend the same university, be sure to inform your friends and family members about the split. You can also contact campus security if you ever need a late-night escort and school counselors may be able to help you change your schedule around if you are in the same classes. You don’t need to take this on alone – there are people to help you.