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Subtle Abuse, The Red Flags

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Subtle abuse is exactly what it says, subtle.  Often in new relationships, we look for obvious signs that this person is worth your love.  It’s easy identify potentially violent people when there is an ex girlfriend with restraining orders or they are not allowed to see their children. Red flags.  These are clear red flags that this person may not be the best and to the extreme, violent.  But with subtle abuse, it is much easier to justify their actions, especially when you’re looking through rose-colored lenses.

Watching for “Red Flags”

Highlighting subtle abuse can help you look deeper and watch out for red flags of domestic violence through subtle abuse. Subtle abuse creates a toxic possibly violent relationship. Toxic relationships are detrimental to mental health and physical safety. Most importantly, a toxic relationship destroys your sense of self and you may find yourself making choices that make no sense. An example is staying with a violent partner.  If you continue to allow subtle abuses, your boundaries begin to slip away and you find yourself accepting bad and even violent behavior.  Living in an abusive relationship is no way to live and statistics show your life is in danger.

YWCA-MC defines subtle abuses as follows

Sexual Abuse

Unwanted sexual contact is abuse. No excuses justify it, it’s wrong.  You don’t owe your body to anyone ever and you might need help to handle this situation.

Verbal Abuse

RED FLAG! Although not so subtle, I cannot stress enough that verbal abuse is the beginning stage of the abuse cycle.  Cutting you down verbally is not love.  When they’re hitting below the belt to hurt you and make you feel so badly that you will bend to their will.  No one who loves you wants you to feel bad about yourself. Verbal abuse shows that this person has no control over their words and more than likely cannot control anything. They will exert that control on you, physically if necessary.  Once the verbal abuse boundary has been crossed, it’s very difficult to come back from. It requires couples therapy if the relationship is worth saving.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse is a major factor in the abuse cycle and happens when a partner figures out what to say to control you. Typical controlling behavior is to cut you off from family and friends.  If your partner hates everyone close to you, you must ask yourself why this person is threatened by people who support you?  Controlling you and cutting you off from family and friends is abuse.

Economic Abuse

By withholding money an abuser keeps you in their grasp and women feel stuck because they have no money to leave and nowhere to go.  Abusers will hide money by pretending there is only enough for the bills. Or, not paying their fair share leaving you with all the bills so there is nothing left for you to do what you want, like leave.

Spiritual Abuse

By attacking your core beliefs an abuser exerts control and further cuts you down. This goes hand in hand with psychological abuse.  Consistently abusing you spiritually and psychologically will wear down your mental health and destroys your self-worth.  If somebody loves you, they don’t want to break you down.

Stalking / Harassment / Cyber Abuse

Fear through these methods is considered abuse and you have options. Laws have been created to protect you form cyber abuse.

There are many subtle abuses to identify but the entire structure of abuse is based on power and control.   The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence  created an excellent visual on abuse that’s not just physical and often dismissed. Take a look at the red flags to define abuse.  If you need help, call our hotline and you can click the number to call.  You can also have a look at our blog listing many important domestic abuse resources.

subtle abuse

*power and control wheel by The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

To help those struggling to leave an abusive, toxic relationship, please consider donating to YWCA Monterey County-click the heart to donate.

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