Emotional and physical abuse takes on of many forms. I feel as if I should be walking into a room full of people, taking a seat, and introducing myself. Well, here it goes. “Hi, my name is Katrina, I am 35 years old and today I realized that I have spent most, if not all, of my relationships either being abused or being the abuser”.
I am going to clarify how I have come to this realization by telling you my story backwards.
Approximately two and a half years ago I met a man who instantaneously transformed my entire attitude of life and the person I was (to tell you the truth, I was lost and angry at the world). He was honest and open with me which made me do the same. He suffers from Manic Bipolar Depression and drug recovery. To this day, he is the only man who knows every dark corner and every bright light within me. He made me laugh, smile, and feel protected like I never even knew existed. Yet, I have been forced to recently walk away from this relationship.
Why? …You Ask. One word, ABUSE. I am ashamed to admit it but it has taken me 35 years to learn, see, and accept the Red Flags.
CONTROL: Controlling behavior can take many forms and have you under a spell before you even realize that it has taken place. A continuous monitoring of what you are doing and where you are is a Red Flag. This man insisted on regular Duo calls and pictures to prove that I was not lying about where I was. It became very frustrating for a professional woman on the go.
However, I was abusing him by exerting all financial control over him. Mostly because he was in recovery for drugs. I kept all accounts in my name, including the house and cars. So, when things ended, he left with nothing but the cloths on his back. I ADMIT, I will tell you that I did that to protect myself until I’m blue in the face but if you really break it down, it’s a form of abuse. I should have never felt that I needed to do that with him…or is that to him?
…Let’s take a step back.
The relationship I had prior was extremely lost. He withheld any affection and constantly made me feel as if I was being punished for not being good enough. I did things that I didn’t want to do, such as party until it became a routine. My health declined severely yet he did not stop.
LECTURES: He was very good at giving lectures about my behavior. Over time this made me feel inferior and non-existent, to the point I slept in the guest bedroom for weeks at a time.
In this relationship, I took it as it came. I never fought back and I drank myself into a sleeping coma night after night. I was miserable. However, as ironic as life is, it ended. Mutually.
…Let’s take another step back.
This relationship was built on friendship and sex. Prior to who I am today, he knew me, accepted me, but did not accept my family. He was convicted as an underage sexual predator. I believed what he told me about the situation and how he was “set up” and never had an issue with this situation. However, issues laid within his insecurities.
CONTROL: I attempted to control where he went and who he was with. I didn’t trust him after he showed me that my family wasn’t good enough for him. I despised him for that because I am not my family. I started going through his phone, hoping to find NOTHING and I never did. I felt relieved. Then one day he left me. He attempted to get me back later, once I started another relationship. I said no.
…Let’s take it a step back further.
I met this man when I was 16 years of age. To this day, he is still present in my life. It wasn’t until I was 23 that he laid his hands on me. I will never forget standing up and insisting he leave. I will never forget him on his knees crying, begging for another chance. I relented. This moment was the biggest mistake of my life.
SCREAMING: Screaming or yelling at your partner is used as a scare tactic. He did this on a daily bases to remind me who was in control. At the time, I thought I was just doing something wrong all of the time.
ISOLATION: This man used isolation as a main form of abuse. He would destroy my cell phone from time to time. He constantly locked me in a room or closet for hours or days at a time.
I learned how to become helpless and at one point believed this was the life I was meant to live.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I started therapy and really started to accept that this trauma was a large source of my anger and negative behavior.
Ironically, recently he reached out to me to apologize for all that he did wrong to me. He expressed how much work he puts into being a better man and father. I appreciated the apology but I had already forgiven him so I could move on. We stay in contact from time to time.
…Now, let’s take it a step back further.
At the age of 20 I was married and at the age of 23 divorced. I will be brutally honest; he was a good man and I wanted to make my family happy. I thought he could provide for me and a family. I quickly learned this life was not meant for me.
KEEP NOTE: PEOPLE WHO WERE ABUSED AS A CHILD TYPICALLY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE ABUSED AS AN ADULT.
…Now, let’s take it a step back even further.
My step father physically abused me. I grew up only knowing physical abuse and knew that he cheated in his marriage.
PHYSICAL ABUSE: Physical abuse is used to maintain control over another person. From time to time, he would make sure control was maintained.
SEXUAL ABUSE: I survived my stepfather’s father’s sexual abuse, as a child, and it did not reach light until I was a teenager and rebelling. He did go to prison for his crime but the crime will never fit the punishment. This led part of my anger and confusion as I grew up.
So, I have to express to you, that as an abused child, the abuse does not always end there.
Those who survived more than one form of abuse are more likely to become an adult and have abusive relationships. As you can see, I fit this profile. So, YES, PROFILE ME.
SO, NOW MY QUESTION TO YOU IS…
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU THINK SOMETHING IS WRONG?
First and foremost, if you EVER think that your life is in physical danger, call 911. It’s okay to ask for help.
If you just have some questions and are searching for answers, there is assistance. If you are experiencing signs of emotional abuse and you believe that you are not in physical danger, I suggest that you contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can even IM with them instead of picking up the phone and dialing. There are agents who will guide you in the direction you need.
LOOK AT YOUR OWN REFLECTION
Admit your faults. Accept the things that you cannot change. Get the help you need so you do not live in the past. Ask for help.
Acknowledge when you notice red flags and take action.
“My name is Katrina and I admit that I have spent most, if not all, of my relationships either being abused or being the abuser. I have accepted what I cannot change. Made the decision to change my way of thinking and negative behavior. Changed what I could. I continue daily growth. I make amends when possible and stay humble. I continue to take personal inventory of my thoughts, actions, and red flags. Lastly, I promise to myself I will always ask for help when needed.”
I am Katrina.