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This week marks the two year anniversary of my escape from someone I consider to be extremely dangerous. Why is this person so dangerous? Because he is charming. He goes to church. He uses flattery. He does “nice” things for people. And he uses guilt, manipulation, and emotional blackmail to get people to do what he wants.

When people think of abuse, they tend to think of someone who hits his wife or girlfriend. But mental and emotional abuse can be so much worse. Because the victim usually has no proof and may not even realize it themselves for a long time. There are no bruises. There are no scars. (At least not visible ones.) They are slowly pulled into the relationship until they can see no way out. It is her word against his and these types of men are often respected leaders in the community. The same charm that they use to draw in the women they abuse is used on their neighbors, their boss, their pastor, their rabbi, etc. So when the woman comes forward with the truth, the reaction is usually that she is lying. That she is trying to get out of trouble for something. That she is jealous of him. There are many things that people tell themselves so that they don’t have to deal with the fact that they too have been duped by this man (or woman).

In my case, I had made some very wrong decisions concerning my relationship with him. I take full responsibility for those decisions because they were my responsibility, no matter how I felt. However, he too had responsibility. He had the responsibility to respect me when I said “no”, no matter what my body language or anything else told him. He had the responsibility to not use guilt in order to keep me in a emotionally unhealthy relationship. He had the responsibility to own up to the full extent of what he had done when I finally told someone the truth.

If  someone makes you feel like a bad friend/spouse/daughter/son/etc., you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If someone makes you feel like you are crazy and that you can’t trust your own perception/judgment, you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If someone won’t listen when you say no, whether sexually or not, you may be in an abusive relationship.

If someone seems like they are trying to control you (they have to know where you are at all times, they flip out if you ask to go one day without talking to them, etc.), you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If you feel like you need to change your behavior or otherwise be perfect or else that person will get upset with you and withdraw, you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If someone has different standards for what they can do and what you are “allowed” to do, you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If someone criticizes or teases you about your looks, your work, or anything that they know you are insecure about, you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

If there are aspects of your relationship that you are uncomfortable with and have asked them to change and they say they will but make no obvious attempts to change (or change for a short time and then slowly reel you back into it), you may be in an abusive relationship.

If someone tells you that you are an idiot any time you disagree with him, you may be in a mentally abusive relationship.

You don’t have to be someone’s spouse or girl/boyfriend for this to apply. This man was supposed to be my friend, my father figure, my spiritual leader. In the process, he drew me away from my other friends, he did nothing to help my relationship with my real father and only encouraged my bad perceptions of him, and he used his spirituality as a way to guilt me when I did things he didn’t like. Or to convince me that our inappropriate relationship was fine and that I was being too legalistic.

If you find yourself nodding along to this list, you need to speak up to someone that you trust. You need to do everything in your power to escape the person you are thinking of. They will not change unless they are given a serious reason to and even then, they may not. I cannot promise that the people you tell will believe you at first. Some people may never believe you and that is their choice. Your choice is to stop letting this person have any part in your life. It will be hard. You may lose a lot. But I promise you, it will be worth it.

Two years later, I am happy. I am more confidant. I have a husband who loves me and doesn’t make me feel like a horrible human being or an idiot when I disagree with him. I don’t feel like I *have* to talk to someone every single day or they will be upset with me. I don’t worry about someone destroying me if I “make them too mad”. I made him mad and you know what? I was not destroyed. What would have destroyed me is staying in that relationship. Abusers only have the power that we (and others) give them. Do not allow someone who fits the descriptions above to have any power in your life anymore.

Let me say this again: I promise you it will be worth it. Maybe not today. Maybe not a month from now. But one day you will look back and say with pride “I made it stop.”

You Are Not Crazy

Signs of Mental Abuse in a Relationship

Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationship

Spotting Signs of Emotional Abuse

1. Do you often feel used by the person? (Yes)

2. Have you often felt that he or she doesn’t care about you? (At times)

3. Does he or she lie and deceive you? (Yes)

4. Does he or she tend to make contradictory statements? (Yes)

5. Does he or she tend to take from you and not give much back? (This person gave but usually it benefited them as well)

6. Does he or she often appeal to pity? Does he or she try to make you feel sorry for him or her? (Yes)

7. Does he or she try to make you feel guilty? (Anytime I wasn’t doing what this person wanted me to do)

8. Do you sometimes feel he or she is taking advantage of your good nature? (Yes)

9. Does he or she seem easily bored or need constant stimulation? (Always had to be doing what they wanted to do. Everyone else was boring and mindless.)

10. Does he or she use a lot of flattery? Does he interact with you in a way that makes you feel flattered even if he says nothing overtly complimentary? (Oh yeah)

11. Does he or she make you feel worried? (Worried about my mental health, worried that I’m being a bad person or bad friend, worried that I’m going to hurt them, etc.)

12. Does he or she give you the impression you owe him or her? (All the time!)

13. Does he or she chronically fail to take responsibility for harming others? Does he or she blame everyone and everything but themselves? (Quite often, yes)

How to deal with common everyday sociopaths

If someone in your life has you answering yes to a lot of those questions, run like hell! You cannot help this person by sticking around. You will only hurt yourself and quite possibly other people. And if you see someone else getting snared in their trap, warn that person. It doesn’t mean they’ll listen but at least you will have done your part.

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