Abuse can end in broken arms and blackened eyes and bright yellow police tape. But it can also take on other forms.
Abuse is always assuming you are the one who screwed up, because whenever you have a fight with the other person, they find a way to twist the situation. They gaslight you. They criticize you. They blame you — until you start blaming yourself. You end up thinking you are the problem when you have done nothing wrong, because they feed on your insecurities. They discover what you are the most self-conscious about and then they pick you apart over it.
Abuse is paying detailed attention to every little move you make. It’s overanalyzing what time you should arrive home and what brand of toothpaste you should buy, because you know if you choose the wrong option, then you are going to be punished for it. The other person is going to flip out, because the smallest thing can set them off. You never know what will cause their temper to flare, so you are always on alert.
Abuse is when they get pissed off at you, say something unacceptable, and then claim it’s your fault. Instead of apologizing, they claim they only did it because they love you so much or because you made them so mad. They make it sound like it’s your fault they were unable to control their temper. They refuse to take responsibility for their actions, because to them, they are faultless.
Abuse is when they throw a glass onto the floor or punch their fist through a wall. When they get close to your face or pound their hands hard against furniture. They don’t touch you, they don’t put a finger on you, but their violence makes it clear they could send you to the hospital if they wanted to. And the worst part is they feel proud they didn’t hurt you. They act like you should be thankful they were able to control themselves.
Abuse is having trouble falling asleep, because every time you hear a noise, you assume the worst is about to happen. It is waking up every hour on the hour, because you keep having nightmares about the person hurting you. It is keeping your door locked tight. It is storing a knife beside your bed. It is coming up with an escape plan in case things go sideways.
Abuse can disguise itself inside of little things. It can feel too small to complain about to your friends. Too small to tell the cops. Too small to get a restraining order.
Abuse is when they mumble beneath their breath about how fat and useless you are. Abuse is when they control what you wear and what friends you see. Abuse is when they make serious threats. Abuse is when they make you feel like shit.
Abuse is never your fault. You should never settle for it. You should never let your love for someone eclipse your common sense. You deserve so much more.