Whenever anybody says the phrase ‘abusive relationships’, people immediately think of black eyes and broken bones. However, there are several kinds of abuse, meaning that sometimes it can be so subtle, it can happen without you realising. Say you’re out with your friends, laughing, gin and tonics going down far too nicely, uploading photos every few minutes to show the world that you do actually have a life. Your phone buzzes: “Who’s that lad/girl you’re sat next to?”
Confused, you respond: “Just a friend, babe, nothing to worry about!”
“That’s fine, just don’t do anything stupid like that again and be home in an hour :)”
Seems totally harmless, right? Almost like they care so much about your welfare, they don’t even want you to be out, where something harmful could happen to you! WRONG. You are an adult, and nobody tells you when your bedtime is except you. Someone being ‘protective’ to the extent that photos with the opposite sex are not allowed is not charming, it is controlling. There is no shouting, no smashing of plates, no fists or kicks, but this can mutate into something abusive.
The next time you’re out, the same thing, including the pictures (you forgot, you’re drunk, you’re only human}.
“What the f*ck, another picture with girl or boy’s name?? After I said last time? Do you realise how embarrassing that looks for me? You’re making me look like a mug. Come home NOW”
This shocks you, but they’re right; you did say you wouldn’t do that, and it must be pretty hurtful to see that, mustn’t it? They just care about me so much, they want the world to know I’m theirs. Better get home to say I’m sorry.
You get home and see them watching TV, so you timidly creep over, ashamed to have let them down again. ‘Sorry’, you whisper, to which they turn around and shake their head.
‘Who is that boy/girl, then? Seeing as you have so many photos with them, you must like them a lot.’
What? ‘They’re just a friend.’
Laughs. ‘Yeah, a friend that’s all over you. I know what boys/girls are like and so do you. You know what you’re doing. You know what they want. You like this, don’t you? You like embarrassing me. Argh, you’re making me so angry. Don’t you see I hate myself when you make me like this?’
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-‘
‘No, that’s it, you never know. How could you be stupid enough to not know how angry you’re making me? You do realise that this is your fault, that you make me like this? If I see you talking to him/her again, we’re done. Don’t bother coming to bed tonight.’
They walk into your room as you sit on the sofa, welling up, infuriated but with nothing to say. You shouldn’t have made them so angry.
Just because you’re not being physically hurt does not mean that your problems don’t matter or exist. If you feel like you can’t do something normal, like you’re not allowed, then something is wrong. Relationships do not mean that somebody is in charge; you can speak to whomever you want, drink as much as you want, have friends with different genitalia to you and that will not make you a bad person.
Photo credit: Flickr