"8 Signs of a Relationship Gone Horribly Wrong"
Sorry, my app doesn't allow me to create links without a computer, so here is the graphic from the article.
Anyway, think about some of the situations I mention that happened to me, and if they sound familiar to you, please reconsider staying with that person, because these people often turn suddenly violent, as mine did.
I only today looked this closely at a man I was dating about ten years ago. I'll call him H for short. Something about him just worried me. I was advised to "learn to love him" because he was "probably the last chance I'd get to find a husband." I'm still not sure if that was sincere but misled advice, or if it might have been a bit of sabotage because misery loves company.
1. Intensity: He lied about his temper. He exaggerated about the grandeur of his home. *cough* trailer *cough*. He gazed into my kitchen saying he was envisioning how his appliances would look in it. He decided he was moving in as soon as he got a job and teaching license here. (Um, I didn't invite him?). He lied about his finances, often waiting until the check came to disclose he hadn't been to the check advance place that week (Ugh! Warning sign!) and needed me to pay for dinner. Repeatedly. Constantly emailing me, and constantly texting. Calling EVERY night with nothing to talk about but insisting I hold the phone for a couple of hours nightly while he did stuff around his house. No talking, just tying me to the phone for hours listening to him doing chores.
(Okay, that's enough to lose the guy right there, but I was told by my mom to give him a few more months to straighten up.)
2. Jealousy: He became irate that I would talk to, email, or spend time with any friends or family. He accused me of cheating on him constantly. He grilled me on every aspect of my life, though the more he pushed, the more distant I became.
3. Control: When I said that I couldn't afford his nightly calls and excessive texts on my cell phone bill, he gave me a cell phone on his account to use for the required nightly check-ups. If I fell asleep, he got on my computer and went through my emails and messaging accounts and read them. When he was back at his place, I would wake up in the morning to find my accounts had just been signed off remotely a few minutes before. He was accessing them from his house without my permission. Look all he might, though, he would never find any proof that I was cheating on him, because I wasn't. And oddly enough, it made him even more suspicious that he couldn't find proof! Oh, I'm not going to talk about the coercion part. That was just too horrible.
4. Isolation: He didn't want me to go to my family's Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, insisting he didn't like to be around other people. When I told him I would go without him, he very angrily decided to go with me, and then proceeded to behave in the most passive-aggressive sulky way. He was rude to other people. He sat in a corner away from everyone with his arms crossed in a huff, insisting that we blow off my entire family, and demanding that we leave early. However, Mr. Antisocial demanded that I help him move his mother's belongings in St. Louis, and spend that day with all of them. When Christmas came, he decided that we would take his whole extended family out for Christmas dinner, and he said it was only fair that he and I split the bill. It would be "our" gift, as a couple. (The "couple" who gave no gifts to my own family. I gave them MY gifts. He wouldn't have it any other way.) I refused. I thought if he wanted to make a nice gesture, it should have been to buy ME dinner. I told him, "No, this is your gift to YOUR family," and smiled. I still had to pay for my dinner myself.
5. Criticism: Not much of that, other than trying to make me think that his behavior was acceptable, and that he warned me he didn't like people, so his bad behavior was all my fault. How dare I want to spend the holidays with my family, when his family was the only option?!? Oh, he did spend a lot of time running my family into the ground. Don't mess with my family.
6. Sabotage: I took him to Christmas dinner at my workplace. He acted like a chauvinistic Neanderthal. He tried ordering me around while he sat there. Get me some tea! I need sugar! I need salt! Get me a second dessert! I was gracious enough to get him a second glass of tea, but after hearing his order-giving tone, I told him to get it himself if he wanted it. (If he was going to try to humiliate me at work, I was betting I had a few friends there who would quickly remove him from the premises in zip-ties and take him on down to the jail.) I was honestly curious to see if I was reading his ugly attitude right. This was three months into our relationship and I was already wondering if I was imagining things or being "too picky" about men. One day after he had left for his house, I realized that the cell phone he had loaned me was missing. I called and told him about it, and bizarrely, he brushed off my concern that it had been stolen from my car. He said not to worry, it would turn up. This from a man who couldn't make ends meet and was weekly hitting a check advance place for money. On Christmas Day, he commandeered my video camera and nastily proclaimed that he was "busy looking at it -- just wait until he was done!!" when I wanted to film the little ones opening their gifts. He wouldn't give it back until they were done.
7. Blame: His reason for breaking up with me was that I "wasn't willing to FIGHT for our relationship." Hey now, this isn't Jerry Springer, and if you think you'll get the thrill of seeing me as your own personal gladiator, think again. I haven't seen a man yet that made me think it was worthwhile to act like a redneck woman. He blamed me for my family not being nice to him. (They were very nice to him, actually, but he stonewalled them like a spoiled brat.) He blamed me for not helping him get his teaching license in my state faster. (Because I have no connections to teacher licensing in any way, I couldn't have done more than give him stamps and envelopes.). He blamed me for not getting him a job in my district. (He was a band director, and ours were a married couple too young to consider retirement and unlikely to die soon. Sheesh. There were exactly two band director positions in my district, and seeing that I'm not an elitist social climber, I had no pull with the district powers-that-be.). Irony: The day after he dumped me via email (classy guy -- courageous too!), he received a teaching license for my state, and sent me a "Ha ha ha, only kidding about the breakup!" email. Fortunately, that was later in the spring, and I told him the breakup stood, and to make sure everyone knew it was HIS choice.
8. Anger: Christmas Day, he wanted to stop at at restaurant by his house to eat. They were closed. He flew into a rage behind the wheel of his vehicle, jerking the car all over the really icy and slick road at fifty-five miles per hour. He almost slid us off the road into a tree, and when I told him that, he said he hoped he did drive into a tree and kill us all, because he was tired of that place being closed whenever he went by. (Hello... It's Christmas Day?) I was afraid for me, and for my dog, the closest thing I had to a child. Abusiveness? *sigh* Yes, I just don't want to talk about it or think about it, but it was going on. One day late in the spring, I was washing dishes in the kitchen, and he was showing off how handy he was. He was in the living room, changing out one of my old-fashioned two-prong outlets for a modern one with three prongs in it. It was just a two-outlet receptacle. My dad had told me if was a simple procedure. I kept hearing some blunder from the living room, and then he would curse. It seems he kept dropping the receptacle box into the wall, and then he would have to fish it out. (This was all my house's fault. It's a stupid piece of shit house, he said.) I don't know why it never occurred to anchor the box so it wouldn't slip. Masking tape, a piece of wood, a ruler...lots of things would have worked. He was getting angrier by the minute and told me to stay in the kitchen after I suggested an anchor. And suddenly, he went nuts in the other room. He took the screwdriver he had been using and started furiously STABBING THE WALL. He stabbed it so many times that he tore a huge hole in the Sheetrock, and he had to put in a four-outlet receptacle afterward to fill the hole. (He tried to shirk his responsibility to repair his damage completely.) I still had to patch and repair the space that was left afterward. I believe that if I'd gone In there to ask him to stop damaging my home, that he would have stabbed me with the screwdriver.
And that was when I started really looking for an escape from that psycho. When he said he was breaking up with me for his crazy reasons, I encouraged it. And you know what? For another year, he kept logging into one of my accounts and reading my messages. Too bad for him that I had stopped using that account.
Looking back, I used to say that I got away from him before he became physically abusive. It was just psychological. But now that I seriously think about some things he did, I realize he was already being physically abusive and I was just in denial, and I couldn't even use the excuse that I loved him, because I never did. Not for one second. I was just told from all sides that I wasn't trying hard enough, there must be something I could do to make him happier. Me, me, me, I'm the one to blame.
And that's how it happens, folks -- victim-blaming until the victim doesn't have any sense of self or self-preservation left.
I can only figure that my lifetime of almost nonexistent self-esteem made me believe I never deserved any better treatment. But I refuse to believe that now. Nobody deserves that.
I still believe that I was very lucky. I didn't just dodge a bullet. I dodged a screwdriver.