Early sign of abuse or something else?

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just18someone
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Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:23 am

Hey guys.
I never thought I would ever have to analyze a relationship like this but something happened like two days ago that got me really shaken up and I'm hoping some outside perspective would help me out. Strap in, it's a little long.

So I've been dating this guy for over 3 years now. Thought I had him mostly figured out. Like we don't live together or anything so we still have quite a few surprises waiting for us but otherwise, I think we've discovered mostly everything. So by now, I thought I knew how our arguments would go, depending on the importance of what we are arguing about, but clearly I didn't.

We attended a music festival over the weekend, which he insisted I come to cause it was important to him and he wanted to share it with me. I agreed and we had a generally good time. We were very cute and did a lot of couple things and we were both pretty stoked about it. Towards the end of the last day of the festival (3-day festival), I got irritated by something he said and clammed up a bit to keep from being stupidly angry. He took offense to this and basically took off. I kinda followed after him a bit but then got increasingly pissed. He had my phone and we were looking for food. So I took my phone from him and asked him to buy his own food and bought myself what I wanted. At the festival, I received a lot of attention from the guys there, so being a bit protective he ended up coming back and sitting next to me, still grumpy. I thought hey, its time to just move past this and offered him food and tried to make him eat it but he just wouldn't listen.

Well, this is where I messed up. I got angrier and basically stormed out of the festival. We were going to leave after eating anyway so eh. But remember I was attracting a lot of attention inside, and I was definitely attracting a lot of attention outside the festival. The wrong kind. Thankfully he did follow after me and we took a rickshaw to his friend's place.

But I was still mad at him and he had begun screaming at me more and more. He kept insisting on making me talk to him, which I really didn't want to at the time. Instead of giving me space he went mad. He smacked himself on the head with a metal mug a few times. Like really hard. The mug was deformed from one side. And that kinda put me into shock. I just remember crying and wondering if he was going to hit me or not, or how I can even leave because I couldn't trust some stranger on the street either. Me crying pissed him off more but he finally realized the rickshaw guy was totally freaked out too and that he needed to calm down. We went to his friend's place because I'd left my stuff there, and I honestly didn't know what to do. He then proceeded to continue screaming at me to talk to him when I told him all I wanted to do was go home. I was really scared, and I do not do well around physical violence since it's so foreign to me and I'm like genuinely much weaker than most people. He even threatened to hit himself again, and I screamed for his friend to come out of the room because he was gonna hurt himself, but the friend didn't come out(which still doesn't sit well with me. What kind of friend is that?). He then proceeded to tell me that I was the reason he hit himself because I wouldn't talk to him and that I'd made him look bad while he chased after me in the festival because everyone looked at him like he'd been rejected by me and he was chasing me anyway. I tried to leave when he was like 'if you leave now I will never forgive you or talk to you ever again', but then he kicked away my shoes and continued screaming at me. He said I screamed like he was going to rape me (when he threatened to hurt himself again) which was another thing that made him look bad.

A lot of other things were said, mostly name-calling and the same things being repeated. He also mentioned how no one cares about him and how he had only me. I eventually got over the shock of him hitting himself and ended up somehow comforting him and calming him down. I was still shaken up so when he raised his hand to fix his hair I flinched and he felt really bad and kept insisting he wasn't going to hurt me. I told him it was okay and eventually he let me go home. He also kept bringing up the pain from hitting his head and blaming me for it.

I met and spoke to him yesterday. He somehow had the impression that things were almost resolved which couldn't be further from the truth. I am still undecided, although for now, I've told him we're okay. When we spoke he seemed to initially not agree that what he did was wrong and definitely unusual, and was very defensive. He even was quite rude honestly, when I tried to explain things from my perspective as gently as possible, calling me a liar and such. He kept bringing up the head pain and how he didn't sleep. He also said his friend didn't come out since the friend knows that he wouldn't do anything like that (But HE DID?!). He eventually ended up agreeing that it wasn't an okay situation and it wasn't going to happen again, which wasn't explicitly said, more like I felt it. I've asked him to go to therapy but he insists on going to these two people only who are miles away and he can't see often enough. He won't even contact them by phone, saying it feels better to see them face to face. His reasoning for this is that the two people he talks to, one of whom is a general practitioner who knows his family, have faced the same loss of having a father abandon the family.

I don't know what to do or what to think. It's not something I'm getting direct answers for, because he doesn't exhibit any traits of abuse other than the anger, which was never as bad as last time, and that was the first time he ever got physical around me.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Amanda F. » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:54 am

Hi just18someone,

Welcome back to the forums. I'm so sorry you went through this scary and stressful experience. I think your assessment of the situation - "early sign of abuse?" is correct, primarily because 1) your boyfriend acted aggressively (toward himself and then to you), and the 2) proceeded to blame YOU for it. Yes, that is emotional abuse. And he did it several times - saying that YOU were the reason that he hit himself (no, that was his decision, and he made the choice to do it), screaming at you multiple times, saying that YOU made him look bad to his friend (again, he did that all on his own), calling you names, blaming other people for his actions...

I want to be completely clear that NONE of his behavior is your fault or responsibility. People are responsible for their own actions. Blaming someone else for aggression, name calling, and assault is abuse (and committing those acts in the first place is also abusive).

Have you ever heard of gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where someone tries to convince the other that they're "crazy", or persuade them (falsely) that they were responsible for a bad outcome. By suggesting that you were responsible for your partner's actions (wrong; HE is responsible), your boyfriend is gaslighting you. You can read more about gaslighting here:
https://www.thehotline.org/what-is-gaslighting/
https://outofthefog.website/top-100-tra ... aslighting

Abuse often occurs in a cycle, where there can be a lot of aggression/inappropriate/harmful behavior, and then the abuser tries to apologize and win you back over. It sounds like he trying to play on your sympathy by saying that you're the only one he has, how no one else cares about him, etc. And he's also refusing to get professional help.

Given the intensity of this situation, I encourage you to read the Scarleteen Safety Plan. I recognize that your boyfriend hasn't directly harmed you, but he did assault himself pretty seriously, and I'd like for you to know all the options you have in case a situation like that comes up again.

Can you tell me a bit more about how you feel after reading some of these things? How are you feeling in this relationship, right now, and overall?

I'd also really like to know how we can best help and support you, so please feel free to ask for anything and we'll do our best to help. <3

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Gone.Sorry. » Tue Dec 03, 2019 11:23 am

While I 100% agree your boyfriend's behavior is abusive, controlling, manipulative, and terrifying, I just want to quickly add that behavior doesn't have to be abusive for you to leave.

You can leave if you're unhappy.

You can leave if you're uncomfortable.

You can leave if you're dissatisfied.

You can leave if you're scared of this relationship/person.

You can leave if you have incompatible personalities or desires or goals for the future.

You can leave because you do not want to be treated the way you were treated.

You can leave if you simply want to leave.

You don't need to have a "good enough" reason to leave. You don't need to prove that it's abuse in order to leave. You went through a terrifying and unsettling experience, and it's totally understandable and okay that you now feel upset, confused, anxious, scared, and whatever else is swirling around inside of you.

You are allowed to leave.

You are important. It's important to take care of your own mental health and safety.

I am thinking of you and hoping you stay safe.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby SpaceCowboy » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:49 pm

Totally agree with the two replies. Also wanted to flag that he threatened you both emotionally and physically, which is definitely also a pretty big red flag re: abuse. It makes total sense that you are not feeling great about the relationship right now, he did some scary stuff!

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:21 pm

Hi Amanda,
I'm glad to be back, but I wish they were under better circumstances.
I feel my doubts being validated once I read all the replies since my friends don't have enough experience to say something so definite and they didn't want to push me towards a decision that might be incorrect. It's understandable because the whole experience was shocking since he'd always been caring and nice before. Sure he'd get angry in an explosive way and would scream, but he wouldn't blame me per se, or maybe I'm just trying to fix his image in my head right now.

I read all the articles you linked, and I did suspect the gaslighting early on but I attributed it to his troubled childhood and that with time I could somehow guide him to be better, but the last episode has me ready to leave. Thankfully I don't live with him and live in girls-only college accommodation, so there is security that doesn't let any visitors in without screening them first. The building is big too and has a lot of students around at all times, so the chances of him sneaking in unnoticed and finding me are not too high.

I think I just needed a justification to leave, I already find myself in pretend conversations in my head about justifying why I broke up with him to my friends. Unfortunately, my closest friends and my family do not live in the same city as me. I do have a small network here that I can hopefully rely upon. One of them didn't show up when the fight was happening though, because I did send my location and asked them to show up because of an emergency. This has me sort of doubting their support, but they now know what happened so they should ideally be supportive.

I'd been putting aside therapy since I didn't think I could set aside time for it, but now I think I should probably join, just to get myself through this semester so that I can go home and heal properly with my family. I do have a lot of work to keep me occupied though, so keeping my mind off him shouldn't be a problem.

I
I feel sad and quite heartbroken honestly. I don't know why but I still sort of blame myself. I knew he was disturbed in someways but I didn't think it was this bad, but I should have known. I'm generally really good at avoiding situations that put me in harm's way, even when I don't know the person at all my gut instinct just knows where I should go. I feel like I betrayed myself by getting into this stupid pattern of wanting to fix someone again. I thought I'd unlearnt it for the most part but I guess it's still there.

He will be going back home for exams this week and at that point, he might meet one or both of the two people he's ready to talk to. I would want to do the break-up after that since he won't be as stressed out then. Plus I think this week is too soon after the outburst that it might just trigger another one. He'll be gone for a week anyway so I can be safe until then. I also have my degree to complete, and I hope he doesn't try to mess with my state of mind. He knows it's important to me.

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:29 pm

Hey horrible goose,

Thank you for your response. I have decided to leave him, although it's still hard to wrap my head around the whole situation. I guess it will get better with time.

I am as safe as I can be right now and I am taking steps to keep it that way. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts.

PS. I love your username, haha.

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:31 pm

Hi SpaceCowboy,

Yes, it was terrifying. I was surprised I could even comfort him after all of it because all I wanted to do was distance myself from the whole thing, but I guess it was some instinctive response to keep him and myself safe.

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:37 pm

I'm also worried he might try to harm himself. If he does something drastic and pins the blame on me, as far as I know, the law will blame me first as a precautionary measure and then I'd have to go through all of that. My parents do not know I'm with him, and it will be a little hell if they do somehow find out. I do know after the hell they will support me, although my mother might do so begrudgingly, I guess it's better than nothing. Again I do want to finish my course, I am at the last stretch and I hope nothing messes it all up.

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:53 am

Okay, the reality of it all just kinda hit me. It's like it's coming in waves. I don't know if I'll be able to do it. I don't know if I want to do it. He never did anything like this until now. Could it have been a one off?

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Gone.Sorry. » Wed Dec 04, 2019 1:18 am

Thanks - I like my username, too. ;p

This is going to be on the short side (compared to what I want to right) because I have to dash soon, but I just had to respond to your latest post.

The thing about abusers is that they don't reveal themselves as abusers overnight.They start slowly. That's how they entangle people and get people to love and trust and depend on them. They're fun and safe and charismatic. Then, there's one event. It takes you by surprise. They cry and they tell you they're sorry and that it'll never happen again. Because this event was so sudden and strange and seemingly out of character, you want to believe them. Because they've spent all this time gaining your trust and love, you decide to believe them. You give them another chance. Everything is okay for a while. It seems like that event was really all there was. As a result, you get complacent.

Then it happens again. But now you've had even more time to become entangled and dependent on this person. You start doubting yourself and your feelings and your perception of the relationship. The abuser has been worming their way into your mind this entire time making you believe that they need you and that they're sorry and that it'll be better and please just don't leave them because what will they do without you?

Over time, the events become more and more common until you think they're normal. Just an everyday part of life. You make excuses and you hide the truth from others. You tell yourself the lies that have been whispered in your ear about how this is your fault and you deserve it and if you were just better, they wouldn't have to treat you like this. And you've spent years of your life, unhappy and scared.

This was not a one-time event. It was not okay. Let's look at the facts.

- He yelled at you and scared you, as well as bystanders
- He didn't respect your boundaries or need for space
- He was violent around you
- He is denying anything really happened
- He is implying you overreacted and downplaying your right to react by framing your actions as something ridiculous ("you're screaming like I'm going to rape you") when you were really just reacting to a terrifying, threatening situation
- He is not taking accountability for his actions
- He is straight up refusing to get help/being very difficult about it and not seriously committing to getting help
- He manipulated you into being responsible for his health and safety ("you're the only one who cares about me") when that is 100% his own responsibility and duty
- He has not apologized for terrorizing, hurting, or scaring you
- He has made absolutely NO commitment whatsoever to regaining your trust or building a healthy relationship

These are not the marks of a man who respects you. These are not the actions of a man who is reasonable. These are not the responses of a man who just "made a one time mistake".

This was a carefully crafted attack on you to see if he could push these boundaries with you and get away with it. He's going to keep going. He will try again. And again. And again. He's testing to see how badly he can treat you and how quickly he can escalate.

I know you're scared. This is scary. It's completely reasonable to be scared. Please don't let your fear get you to hide from the truth. Reach out to anyone and everyone who might help you. You do not have to do this alone.

I'm not sure of the legal system over in India, but it sounds like you're in school. Does your university offer counseling services? Does your university have an office meant to oversee things like domestic violence reports? Does your university have any legal counsel options where you could speak with a lawyer about your worries of being held legally responsible should this man harm himself? Take a look around and take advantage of anything they offer!

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:38 am

Thanks for the response. I was really close to just giving up on the whole thing and I suspect it won't be the only time until I get it done with. I do have counseling at my university and will be going there soon. They don't have anything dedicated to domestic violence and in terms of legal counsel, I don't want to involve them if I'm just overthinking the situation. I spoke about my concerns to a friend of mine and she said she supports my decision and will be there for me, but the whole thing about him hurting himself and blaming me might be too much on my part. So, for now, I'll not worry about that too much I guess. I still have time, so I guess I'll have to just keep busy until then.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Heather » Wed Dec 04, 2019 7:47 am

I think it's fair to speak for people responding to you here and say that we certainly don't feel you're "overthinking," if by that you mean that the things you have posted about here aren't abuse, but are about you thinking too much. Like horriblegoose listed up there, you've told us a lot of things that are absolutely abusive: not a maybe, not a "sign of abuse," or a red flag, not you thinking they are when they're not, but very clearly, objectively abusive. I'm so sorry you've had to go through all of this,

Something else that is absolutely textbook abuse is someone doing you harm threatening to harm themselves, or performing harm to themselves: abusive people pull this one ALL the time. It's rarely about them being in real harm from themselves: abusive people like this guy are very likely to keep harming you and to harm others, but they generally do not turn that harm on themselves in any real way. Instead, they say and do things like that to try and control you, keep you from feeling you have a right to your hurt from the harm they did to you, and to avoid taking responsibility for the harm they have caused and are causing. They also do that to make you feel like you have to do what they want for fear they'll hurt themselves if you don't: they know what they're doing, and they know it usually works. Having read through all of this, my personal sense of things is that YOU are in danger from this person, but they are in no real danger from themselves. But if he was, you certainly wouldn't be doing him any favors by just going along with things and not seeking intervention with this. Either way, I do think finding some kind of intervention here -- and that can include the intervention being dissolving the relationship, since this is where he's doing all of this, you know?

To the best of my knowledge, even if he *did* by no means would there be legal consequences for you. I'm not sure where you got that idea, but I was going to suggest that you try and connect with a domestic violence/intimate partner violence organization in your area. India is a very big place, but one place for you to start to find some help with this is probably Shakti Shalini: https://shaktishalini.org/contact/ I'd just leave them an email on that contact page, let them know you're currently in an abusive dating relationship and want to know what kind of help is available to you. They could potentially help you find counseling that does address this, and could likely also fill you in about your legal concerns. How do you feel about sending them a mail and seeing what they say and might have to offer or connect you with? You could also call them on the phone, if that felt better for you: +91 9711053706 or +91 9811390630
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

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:59 am

I have emailed them and hope to get a reply soon. Until then I have an appointment with my university counselor tomorrow so hopefully, that turns out okay.
Is it normal to feel apprehensive about leaving him? Like I'm making a mistake and that I'm going to lose a good thing in my life on purpose? Like all the good times we had keep coming back to me. I'm still texting him as per usual since the guide said to not let him know things were wrong until I'm ready to tell him, but I feel like I'm cheating him and I feel really guilty about it. It sucks cause I know if I have the same conversation with him again he'd get defensive all over again.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:09 am

Hi just18someone,

Those are both awesome steps to take in terms of looking after yourself and getting yourself safe. I hope the appointment goes well.

Yes, those feelings of apprehension are really common in situations like this. Ending a relationship can bring up a lot of apprehension on it's own, so when you add the fact that you're (understandably) worried about how he'll react, it can leave you pretty tense. Too, that reflecting on the good times is also something that's common in this kind of situation. One of the things that makes it difficult to leave an unsafe relationship is that, in most cases, the relationship wasn't awful the entire time, and there were things about it that you enjoyed. But, it can help to remember that you can find those same things you enjoyed in another relationship that IS safe (be it a romantic one or a platonic one). The options aren't solely "stay with the unsafe person" or "lose all these good things in order to be safe." Does that make sense?

It might also help to re-frame how you think about texting him. You're not doing it to hurt him, you're doing it to keep yourself safe. He's created a situation where your safest choice is to conceal what's happening, and the blame for that falls squarely on him. Thinking about it that way might not make the guilt go away instantly, but it may help you let go of it over time.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Amanda F. » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:47 am

Hi just18someone,

Just checking in to see how you're doing. Were you able to get in touch with a therapist? What is the situation like with your (ex?) boyfriend?

-Amanda

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:28 pm

Hey Amanda,

I did visit a therapist who helped me quite a bit. I'm not with him anymore so it's all good I guess. I still miss him and I'm not over the whole grieving process but I guess I'll get done with it eventually. Thanks for checking in!

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:40 am

Hi just18someone,

Thanks for the update! Glad to hear you're no longer with him and that your therapist was helpful with this whole situation.

So you know, it's pretty normal to have moments where you miss an ex, even if they really were not a good person for you to be with. Likewise, it can take time to fully grieve a relationship that was a big part of your life. How are things in your life otherwise? Are there hobbies you've been able to get into or relationships with friends and family (and yourself) that you've been able to spend more energy on?

just18someone
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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby just18someone » Sun Feb 28, 2021 11:44 pm

Hi!
I'm revisiting this post since well, it seemed like I would be fine but I'm unsure? It's been over a year since this, but I'm still struggling with things? I'm not sure why I'm sad or feel whatever I'm feeling right now. I really don't have much to complain about. I had a very disturbing dream last night, where my family told me that I'm horrible and wouldn't care if I died. I know it was just a dream, and that in reality, it would affect them, but it was one of those that was really realistic, and so I can't shake it off. I don't know if it's because of this or something else, but I have been feeling sad since this event. I had to stop seeing my therapist, thanks to the pandemic, and now that I've moved back in with my family, I really can't go to therapy cause they wouldn't get it. This might be temporary, and by the end of the day I'll probably be okay, but I feel kinda disturbed right now, so I guess here I am.

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Re: Early sign of abuse or something else?

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Mar 01, 2021 7:50 am

Hi just18someone, nice to see you again!

Honestly, given what the last year has been like for everyone, it makes a lot of sense that you're not feeling as good as you hoped you would. Not only is the pandemic itself stressful; for a lot of people it amplifies other stressors they are under.

I'm sorry to hear you had to stop seeing your therapist. Since it sounds like living with your family might be creating a barrier to privacy, have you looked into remote counseling options that are done via written chats? That might let you access the care you need without alerting your family. Too, do you feel like you have tools you learned while seeing your therapist that you can draw on when you're feeling bad?


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