Warning signs of abusive relationships

Angela Demas, Staff Reporter

Whether they are your partner, parents, friends, colleagues, and so on, you may be susceptible to toxic relationships. In society, this topic may be deemed taboo or uncomfortable to discuss. No matter the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that abuse still exists.
“Personally, I feel that abusive relationships are a perpetual problem, and we need to do everything that we can to bring awareness to the issue and share information about how to get help,” said Cory Gahsman (Social Studies).
You never know what a person goes through until they open up. Even if and when they do, you will never be able to know exactly how they are affected by the situations they face. However, you can always make an effort to try.
There are prominent warning signs to detect whether or not a person is toxic. Here are just some of the red flags to look out for, as suggested by The National Domestic Violence Hotline and Marni Feuerman from the PsychCentral. Not all of these signs necessarily correlate with an abusive person but are important to note.
Humiliation. If someone constantly ridicules you, this can cause concern. Jokes can go too far–to the point where it can have such a negative mental toll on a person. For instance, sharing personal private information, psychical embarrassment, public shaming, etc. This is a form of bullying and is not usually tolerated in most settings.
Constant put-downs and hypercriticism. Constructive criticism, which can be helpful instead of hurtful, is drastically different from hypercriticism, which is both unasked for and unnecessary. For example, degradation, purposely triggering someone, targeted jokes, etc. A person’s self-esteem can decrease immensely because of this, which leads to them missing opportunities, feeling depressed, and increasing their self-doubt.
Exclusion. When someone denies communication with you or ignores you, this is a red flag. Be aware of situations where a person excludes you as a form of punishment. This can make a person feel uncared for and invisible, which can also harm their self-esteem.
Unreasonable jealousy. There are certain levels of jealousy that are considered extreme and toxic. Typically, jealousy isn’t seen as a major concern, but when it turns into entrapping acts, this is when you should take precautions. This could be someone demanding private information on you, such as people in your life and your whereabouts. As well as, snooping through your personal items, or even preventing you from going to see anyone else. If this happens too often, it’s because they do not trust you.
Manipulation. The use of manipulation tactics such as gaslighting is a serious matter that people should be mindful of. Manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change behavior or perception. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation used to create doubt in someone which makes them question their psyche. For instance, convincing you that something is your fault when it is not. Simple tactics, such as mimicking social cues, are considered manipulation but aren’t usually seen as worrisome. However, the concept of reinforcement, guilt-trips, and other serious tactics are red flags to look out for.
Pressure. Someone pressuring you into doing something that you are uncomfortable with is of concern. Positive pressure can be beneficial, however, people can manipulate you into thinking this is what you want when in actuality, you wouldn’t have consented to these actions. Someone pressuring you to use drugs, have sex, or quit your job when you didn’t want to do any of these actions would be a negative pressure. Due to extensive forms of pressure, many victims of sexual assault who were coerced into giving consent don’t come forward.
Domination and control. Actions carried out for the purpose of controlling someone falls under the category of domination. This form of domination can cause antisocial behavior as a result of the controlled environment. Some examples to be aware of include, controlling who you see, where you go, what you do, using money or objects to control you or preventing you from making your own decisions. The person is putting you in a mental cage, controlling aspects of your everyday life. Although this may exclude most authority figures since they must abide by the law and their profession, they may abuse such rights.
Threats and violence. If someone threatens you or commits violent actions, you should immediately report them. You should not take threats used to compel you to do something of their liking lightly. According to Richard McKeon, Ph.D., chief of the suicide prevention branch at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, survivors of violence from an intimate partner are twice as likely to attempt suicide multiple times.
The purpose of this list is to acknowledge that these actions can be harmful and even abusive in some circumstances.
“I think that having conversations about the warning signs and recovery for abusive relationships is relevant in any community. It is important because, in the absence of information, people may choose to suffer through situations because they don’t realize that others are suffering through it too, or they may not know what they can do about it. It is also important because people need to understand what constitutes an abusive relationship, and that it is never ok,” said Gahsman.
If you have seen anyone exhibit these signs, be careful with forming a relationship with them. If you cannot have a conversation with them about any of these actions, you may want to seek help to understand why. Consider seeking out professional help if you have experienced any of these actions.
The national domestic violence hotline, available 24/7: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224