They all tell you: you should have known. You should have seen the signs. But how do you tell them it’s not as easy as they make it seem to be? Let me be clear.
Red flags are only available in hindsight. If you knew what was happening was wrong, wouldn’t you have stepped back from the relationship yourself? “You should have known” is victim-blaming. They are putting the blame on the victim and mocking them for not having seen the pattern. This doesn’t solve the problem. No one can go back in time and change their decisions. We can only move ahead and hope we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.
Leaving an abusive relationship takes superhuman strength, no matter when you do it. The longer the relationship is, the harder it gets. It is also a well-known fact that victims of abusive relationships keep getting into abusive relationships over and over again. This is simply because these victims don’t really understand what love is supposed to look like.
If you’re a victim of such a relationship, be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself for not having seen the signs, forgive yourself because you couldn’t leave earlier. We all make mistakes that we wish we didn’t make.
There is life beyond abuse
Victims of such relationships often struggle to envision the life after this relationship. They think that they won’t find happiness ever again and this person is their only chance at love. This is why they keep giving their abusers another chance over and over again.
You don’t have to second guess yourself. The first time you see a red flag won’t be a solitary event. Things will happen over and over again until there is a pattern built over time. Looking back, there won’t be just one thing you can point to and say ‘that was what was wrong with our relationship’. No. It will be hard to point out.
You will think to yourself:
They don’t really care about things that I like. They don’t like it when I talk to other men. They have never enough time for me.
You’d tell yourself these things are too small to break up and you’d tell yourself that your partner will change. They may but it is more likely that they may not. That’s how abusers are. They give you enough crumbs to keep you around but never enough to love you properly.
Everything will be on their pace and on their own terms. They will decide where to go for dinner, they will decide what movie to watch. You don’t say much because you just want to respect their wishes. But they won’t do the same for you and deep down, you know that.
You’re not a crazy mad woman
Their abuses will be subtle, so subtle that if you get offended, you’re just a crazy, mad woman. They will say your career is just a hobby, they won’t say anything when their friends are being rude to you. When you ask them why, they’d simply shrug and say, “they’re just joking. Calm down.”
You’ll start justifying their behavior without realizing that you’re doing it. You’ll tell yourself:
He’s just busy. He’s just good friends with his ex. He really loves me. I really love him. He will change one day. He will stop hurting me one day. It’s because of his friends, it’s not really him. He’s just going through a difficult phase in life.
You don’t have to do all this.
If you’re unhappy, you don’t have to lie to yourself that you aren’t. It’s okay if you want to leave but find it difficult to do so. You can leave at the first red flag, you don’t have to give anyone a second chance.
Some people will tell you you are overreacting. That you’re creating drama just for the sake of creating drama. ‘That’s how men are!’ They’ll tell you he is really a good person. And maybe he is a good person to them. But that doesn’t mean he is a good person to you too.
It’ll be difficult
You will feel lonely. You will feel as if you’ll never be happy again in your life. Hell, you might even feel guilty for leaving him. It’s okay to have these feelings but don’t hold on to them.
Some people will even call you heartless or dramatic or something much worse. They’ll tell you that you made a big mistake. You need to get rid of such people in your life too.
You will miss him. Because it’s not easy to fall out of love but you’ll have to learn how to. You will look at your old pictures and smile to yourself. You will visit those same restaurants and miss going on dates with him. You’ll convince yourself that you’d never love again someone like that. But you will. You definitely will.
And the next person you choose won’t hurt you as he did.
Believe it or not, one day you’ll be happy again.
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