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4 Things in Your Relationships You Didn’t Know Were Abusive

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen or heard stories of countless abusive and horrible men. Unfortunately, it seems like every woman I know has had experiences with controlling or abusive partner, friend, or co-worker at some point in their life. Because of the prevalence of this kind of behavior, sometimes it’s easy to excuse or overlook other abusive behavior that cis men commonly exhibit in relationships. Obviously, anyone can be abusive in any sort of relationship, but our culture normalizes and even praises behavior that abusive men exhibit specifically towards the women they date or marry. Every day I hear another story from a woman discussing how her boyfriend/husband does things that are lazy, disrespectful, or cruel, and they usually end with phrases such as “but he doesn’t hit me, so it’s okay,” “is this normal?” or “am I overreacting? So, with that, here are a few red flags that often that often fly under the radar in relationships.

1. Whenever your partner confronted about an issue, they will argue about whether you should have been upset or not, rather than how he can change or fix it.

Their initial reaction is that you must be overreacting, instead of recognizing your feelings and talking about it. They will dismisses and invalidate you without a second thought. In relationships, this is not only disrespectful of their partner’s feelings, but creates an environment where you feel scared to approach a problem you have with their behavior, even if it’s small. Abusive partner will intentionally do this regularly. It blames you for the problem, and puts the responsibility to change on you. This causes you to be much less likely to ask them to change, and that’s the goal of their behavior; if you blame yourself, you’ll think they’re not doing anything wrong, allowing them to freely continue other abusive behavior.

2. After being confronted, they will have a breakdown, and say everything’s their fault or they “can’t do anything right.”

This gives them a way to “give up” on “trying” to behave better while still blaming their significant other for upsetting them, and abusive partners will deliberately do this all the time, furthering their abusive narrative that they’re just “misunderstood,” and everything’s your fault. This also makes the victim less likely to confront them about the same issue, as they wouldn’t want to upset him again.

3. They disrespect their caretakers, and expect everyone to appease them and their needs.

In a heterosexual relationship, housework is a huge issue and writing about the gender division of labor could fill books. But there’s a couple specific things I want to mention: First, if a man disrespects his mother, (or anyone who has consistently taken care of him) dump him, because that’s how he’s probably going to treat you. Men will laugh about deliberately doing household chores terribly, so their significant other thinks they’re incapable of it. This allows them to be lazy in peace, because they specifically trick you into thinking they can’t take care of themselves. Once you think that, you’ll feel bad for leaving them or not taking care of them, which further acts to keep you stuck with them. In fact, most abusive behavior is designed to keep the victim in the relationship under control.

4. They disrespect your body and your reproductive rights

Abusive and controlling men will deliberately try to get their partner pregnant even against their partner’s consent. This often involves deliberately rendering birth control ineffective. This seems far-fetched, until you realize that it’s something Pete Davidson joked about doing to Ariana Grande on Saturday Night Live, specifically stating “I just want to make sure she can’t go anywhere.”  It’s a specifically insidious behavior that has little to do with children or family, and everything to do with control. They don’t care about a child, they want you to be stuck with them, and feel guilty for leaving. These men know they won’t do anything to take care of the child, which leaves their partners busy and easier to control, not to mention more dependent on them in terms of money.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, abuse comes in many forms and these behaviors also can be exhibited by parents, friends, bosses, etc. but unfortunately, some of these signs can be easy to ignore. If you’re in an abusive relationship, none of it is your fault, and you aren’t alone. It’s hard to leave, because that’s the point, they want control. But I promise the freedom you’ll feel from finally cutting them off is worth it. Plus, it doesn’t have to be awful for you to leave. You deserve a loving, respectful relationship, and it’s your right to dump anyone who doesn’t fulfill that for you. . Being an extremely empathetic person myself, who loathes to hurt others, I’ve had to end relationships because I realized I could be so much happier and help so many more people if I left. So, don’t let your fear of hurting them keep you in a relationship where you aren’t happy

It’s not hard for men to not be abusive. It’s not difficult for men to be kind, respectful, understanding, and loving. And this is coming from a man who is pretty socially inept; I often say the wrong thing or have trouble figuring out what other people are feeling. All you have to do to be a decent person is give a shit about others and pay attention.  A man shouldn’t be praised for not being an asshole, that should be the default.

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Jacob Westwood is a senior at the University of Utah, who loves animals, the outdoors, and hands-on work.