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Author Topic: The Nuh-uhs
Heather
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So, you got out of an abusive relationship (rock on, you!).

Now that you have, or since you have, you obviously want to do all you can to never get trapped in one again.

Obviously, we can only see so much coming: none of us is psychic, and as many of us know all too well, abusive people can be slippery and manipulative and awfully hard to see coming.

But one thing we can do is to form some hard lines, some dealbreakers, some things someone might do that can tip us off to them not being healthy or healthy for us, things where we just go "Oh, nuh UH," and vow to turn away and get gone ASAP, rather than getting pulled in.

We might be talking about someone saying really sexist stuff, someone demonstrating in some way they can't manage their anger, someone who is very jealous or possessive, someone who says things that suggest they want to control how we dress, who we hang out with, how we spend our time.

Do you have any of these now? What are they?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Alergnon
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I'm not in any abusive situations at all (yay) I used to be in a difficult area where a guy I used to date wanted to have children with me and tried to force me/convince me. I finally dumped him which was very hard on me.

On the lines of controlling maybe or wanting to make a point; my cousin when she see's someone smoking she tells me (grills) me how bad it is and when she smells cigarettes she over reacts and says, "ewww" and coughs. I have to listen to her feelings towards it when I smoke and she has no clue, I simply cover it up because I don't need to be attacked by her judgements of my choice in smoking. I have been judged by her in the past and basically things were said that hurt me. But, I try to keep out of those situations as possible so she doesn't tell me judgement comments of any sorts. She is a great person but can be very degrading at times. I know it's not really abuse but it's judgement.

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Heather
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(Can we try and keep this to lines and red flags specifically about avoiding abusive situations and relationships? Thanks!)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Alergnon
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Oh, sorry. Should of not put the first mini paragraph in.
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Heather
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Well, no, it's actually that in the second paragraph, I don't really see anything about something you do to avoid winding up in an abusive situation.

I mean, for sure, there are more gracious ways for someone to voice a concern about your health or her displeasure at smoking. But personally, I'm not seeing anything in that, beyond a mild lack of social graces, that suggests that person is being abusive or might be.

get what I mean?

So, what I'm asking about here is something different.

For instance, if I can offer up a personal one or two: if I hear someone talking about how women are stupid or foolish or just for their own pleasure, I know to steer clear. If I hear someone talking about how they wish they could smack an ex? Same deal. If someone gets stalky when I want to hang out with my friends? Ditto.

Make sense? [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Alergnon
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Oh... Okay, yes now it does. Hehe.

In the past I have been treated differently. Anyways one time I was walking down the street and some guys on bikes rode past me and whistled and said, "Damn look at that ***," I was a bit offended but didn't take it as a negative or positive, I'd rather be treated as a whole instead of my bum reflecting my own sexual appearances to them. So I ignored it and kept walking.

Is that one the lines?

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Heather
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I'd certainly say that having someone objectify us and learning to steer clear of that is one way to try and steer clear of abuse, to be sure.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Robin Lee
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To be clear, this wasn't a relationship, but rather a casual flirtation of a few weeks with someone who was very clearly abusive and manipulative. We were both far from home when we met, and fortunately going back home separated us permanently. I learned from that experience, though, to be wary of compliments that have no substance. I also learned to trust a gut feeling. Too often I would sit with him, he would be (or would think he was) sweet-talking, and I'd just want to run out of the room (not liking what he was saying or how he was talking to me). So important to value my feelings about something, and to say something or absent myself from the situation.

Oh, and strangely enough, I also learned, in reflecting about the experience after it happened, that it was important to me to develop connections and attractions with people with whom I shared common interests and ambitions.

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Robin

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Smarties
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I always look to see how a potential partner treats people in the service industry, especially women in the service industry. From my personal experience, people who treat service industry employees (people "lower" than them) with condescension (both in a hostile and faux-polite way) or rudeness usually have problems elsewhere.
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Heather
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(Oh, Smarties, that's a good one!)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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polyprotic
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Great topic, Heather. I am not the most socially perceptive, so it's taken me a good bit of thought to pin point some of these, although a lot of them may seem to be from the "duh file." But hopefully a list like this can save someone else some of the trouble:

-The "negative compliment" or the compliment-insult-compliment sandwich, especially if you see it start to escalate. The first few times it may be nigh impossible to call the person on (which is why people use them), because it can be easily mistaken for a genuine compliment delivered with poor social skills. But if it becomes a pattern, this person is probably being manipulative by playing off of (or feeling out) any insecurities.

-The person says that their exes probably think they're scum/abusive, but the ex was just irrational.

-The person wants you to do something you don't think is in your best interest, especially health-wise. If they are adamant about ditching safer sex, for example, that should be a huge red flag.

-The person is drawing you away from friends or activities you enjoy.

-The person says /anything/ to imply ownership of your body.

-The person somehow normalizes or validates abuse, whether "joking" or not. For example, one of my exes had this theory that men who abuse women are that way because they have been in some way wronged by women in their lives.

-The person hates feminists.

-The person has a pattern of failing to take responsibility for their own actions or future.

-Any sort of hounding/guilt tripping for sex.

-Being angry with you and refusing to say why.

-They frequently feel the need to point out what a nice person they are to others. Look out for "nice guy syndrome" (anyone who believes they are entitled to sex or a romantic relationship with someone simply because they are friends or do nice things for them, like listening).

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Robin Lee
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HI Polyprotic,

There are some really good (and perceptive) things on this list.

I'm wondering, if you're up to it, if yu can talk more about the "negative compliment" piece of this? It's something that doesn't get talked about very much, and I think it could be helpful to all of us to hear a little more of what this entails.

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Robin

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polyprotic
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XKCD brilliantly captures the pick-up minded format in this comic: http://xkcd.com/1027/

I've been on the receiving end of a few, and have heard some male acquaintances discussing the merits of the technique as a way to pick up women. I find it really difficult to put my finger on what exactly I find so repulsive and scary about the whole thing, so bear with me.

The consensus among non-abusive (but still questionably motivated) givers of the negative compliment seems to be that it's a good way to undercut someone's self-esteem, making them feel more vulnerable (and therefore that they need an instant way to reaffirm their worth) in that moment, which apparently opens up a hole for a slightly "sub-standard" pick up artist to have a chance with someone they wouldn't normally.

So from the getgo, even at this technique's least malicious, one person is presupposed to have more worth than the other. And that the one that believes themselves to have less worth is entitled to cut the other one down.

Essentially, the success of the technique theoretically hinges on how desperately the one being picked up feels the need to reaffirm their worth after a small blow. Which I find wrong in two ways: it serves as a screening process to single out the most vulnerable people; and it rests on the highly reductionist view that people can only affirm their self-worth by seeking it from others (one that has so recently treated them badly). Not a very good way to begin a relationship.

It's easy to see the potential for it's even darker iteration when several are used to feel out what specific insecurities can best be exploited later in an actual relationship.

A really well done (highly dramatized) example of its use in a relationship is the song "Mother Knows Best" from Tangled in which Rapunzel's mother begins by saying endearing things about her daughter, then insults her for a few verses, then follows up by saying how much she loves her. Indeed, it's at right about that point in the movie where we realize how unhealthy the relationship is.

To me, the compliment-insult-compliment sandwich looks a lot like a three-sentence epitomization of the cycle of abuse.

Unfortunately my thoughts on this aren't coming together as well as I'd like, so if anything needs clarifying, just let me know [Smile]

[ 09-25-2012, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: polyprotic ]

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Robin Lee
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Your thoughts are very clear actually. Thank you for sharing.

Definitely sounds like something to avoid in a partner, or in any relationship really!

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Robin

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TheTasteOfPurple
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(Content Warning: Self-harm, emotional manipulation)

My very biggest and brightest red flag is feeling like I have to keep things from someone or There Will Be Conflict. In my most-recently-ended relationship, me chatting on skype with someone my partner had jealousy issues about, i.e. our mutual other partner who was long-distance at the time, could induce a five-hour sulk (including silent treatment and self-harm or threat thereof); talking about going traveling alone or with someone other than my partner resulted in long nearly-arguments, etc. When anybody exhibits behavior that to me translates into Your Life Choices Are All About Me And My Feelings, I run away fast.

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

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nixieGurl
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Im still not so good at seeing these red flags on my own to be honest, it's something I desperately want to learn and sometimes think that it's something wrong with me that I just don't see them. Most of the time if someone is nice to me I figure everything is golden, I guess because I have been treated quite badly in the past.

but here is one thing I can never look past when I meet someone new, especially a potential partner and that's how they treat my animals (or any other) and they way they behave toward children.

I guess they are totally obvious ones to most people really though.

one thing I miss about my old city was having people who I knew I could trust to help me see the red flags about potential partners when I couldn't. In my new city I don't know anyone really yet who would do that, so I need to work on it myself, big time.

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skiesofgreen
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Just a few that are on the top of my head:

- Someone being unable to handle disappointment (that is to say a person who routinely throws tantrums or becomes sulky or angry when things don't go their way) is a huge redflag for me.

- An unwillingness to take responsibility and/or a routine avoidance of responsibility are things I've seen attached to abusive behavior especially when it is tied to placing blame on someone else in order to get their way

- Talking about sex as though it's a game (something you gain points at etc.) especially in a way that objectifies or diminishes the involvement of the other party (i.e. treating them as something to be gained/achieved rather than an active participant)

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Burdened with glorious booty
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I think a red flag for me is if they talk badly about your friends, family or other people you're close to. My best friend's dad has a girlfriend who criticises her and her brother for various things, and it's only recently that their dad has told her to stop it. It's a red flag to me because it says so many things about their ideas on hospitality (you just don't insult and put down a person when you're their guest), your relationships, your tastes in regards to the kind of people you have as friends, their general respect, and lots of other things.

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Ta-da!

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Claire P.
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Polyprotic, "the neg" is my red flag too!
(& that comic is great- just wish more people getting negged were aware enough to respond just like that girl!)

As soon as a guy (usually pretty early on in our initial interaction- cause apparently that's an important part of the "technique") drops a neg, it's an INSTANT illumination of SO many unpleasant things about him (particularly re his values/character)and his perspective on women, that may otherwise have taken a WHOLE lot of time to come to light.

You're right that it's awkward and difficult to openly flag the issue by confronting the person/their neg out in the open during the conversation, because since the "strategy" is to pretty much cause confusion and hurt without letting the woman feel justified in feeling this way,there often isn't much to grab onto at first.
(This technique is often referred to as "developing emotional addiction in women" because the reinforced use of the compliment-negative-compliment is the most successful way to "make them loyal and obedient.")

I've been an on-and-off OkCupid user for years, and had never encountered anything even CLOSE to the disturbing patterns that pretty suddenly became evident in my inbox when the PUA stuff was catching on- and before I managed to find out some real info about that community, I was SO freaked out by how similar the messages were in certain ways, but how there was no way all these men knew each other. & honestly pretty scared for the male population overall at that point- since my past messages would rep a pretty wide sampling that included a whole bunch of different people.

After about 6 months of "You could totally be a model if you dropped a few dress sizes," and "I think it's so cute that you wrote your profile to sound like you're this totally fascinating artist- is that what you want to be when you grow up?" I actually did start calling guys out on it every time. A surprising (or maybe not so surprising, considering) number of them wrote back scathing, outraged emails defending their "honest" interest in communicating with women "on their level."

This PUA (pick-up-artistry) deal initially started online, and it's still a big huge thing among certain types of online gamer communities- and I think its continued prevalence online, combined with the false bravery anonymity gives to lend people, could actually pose a risk.. Like, I don't know if there's any real data out there on this, but I could imagine that there are many young people out there today who may spend a good amount of time online (or offline) are unaware of this creepy technique club and are therefore at risk for falling into one of the set traps that they may or may not see as a legitimate relationship...And it's pretty hard to push a red flag on someone in the middle of it. [Frown]

[ 11-04-2012, 02:32 AM: Message edited by: Claire P. ]

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E_Marie
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Instant red flag: Pressure. About anything.
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Jill2000Plus
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"- An unwillingness to take responsibility and/or a routine avoidance of responsibility are things I've seen attached to abusive behavior especially when it is tied to placing blame on someone else in order to get their way"

As a point giving a different perspective that is not meant to argue against your point: a major red flag for me is people who do not show understanding of the effects of mental health issues and disability on productivity and sometimes level of motivation - people who believe that disabilities and mental health issues are just an excuse and say things like "people with autism lack empathy" or equate able-bodied neurotypical men who refuse to pick up after themselves out of sheer sexist entitlement with people who legitimately struggle with these things due to disabilities and/or mental health issues, expecting disabled people to work non-stop in order to get as close as possible to "normal" levels of independence, instead of accepting that everyone has their limitations and everyone is entitled to free time, people who believe, even if they don't explicitly state it, that disability is something that can be overcome through willpower (this is a more common attitude when it comes to neuroatypicality or mental health issues that physical disability, but you can find people who believe this for even the latter to some extent) ... in fact more generally people who believe in that kind of "willpower is all that matters" nonsense are a huge red flag for me as it takes a lot of ignorant privilege to believe that.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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PeachBlossom
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Something that I have found, when meeting others is that a warning sign for me is
-Deciding without asking me what I will eat or drink.
-Overriding my choice not to have that. ex: Saying that I will like it if I try.
- Comparisons to someone else, in a negative way.

All of those are things that make me take a good look at whats happening. Sometimes a conversation about it will fix it, but when they say they will stop and do not, then it is a red flag.

For example, some people think that it makes them look cool to choose, and do not realize one might not like it. If told, they change. Other times, they do realize, but view it as their right, and are very controlling. I see it as a warning that they might be very controlling in a relationship.

[ 11-23-2012, 06:04 AM: Message edited by: PeachBlossom ]

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Mожно привыкнуть ко всему - даже ад.

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