Recently, a friend confided in me that her “boyfriend” had been pressuring her to do sexual acts she wasn’t comfortable with. Now it might sound ridiculous to some, but she felt guilty about what had happened, and didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him no. This is a mentality shared by many people who find themselves victims of abusive relationships.
But how do abusers do what they do and get away with it? Wouldn’t anyone with common sense know not to trust these people? It’s not as easy as you might think.
- Abusers often emphasize the bond they have with their victims and may use this bond to justify inappropriate behavior.
- ex: “Why don’t you want to have sex? I’m your boyfriend.”
- Abusers often try to make their victims feel like they are not obeying social norms with their behavior.
- ex: “Why do you have to make such a big deal out of this? Everyone’s doing it.”
- Abusers often try to isolate their victims from their friends and family to have larger control over their lives.
- ex: “I don’t like that person, you shouldn’t talk to them anymore. I’m your boyfriend, don’t you want me to be happy?”
- By isolating them, they prevent them from being exposed to others who may help the victims escape the abusive relationship.
Being aware of these “red flags” is key. Giving yourself permission to place importance on your feelings and comfort is crucial. If you have experienced these types of relationships before, or are currently in an abusive relationship, therapy may help you identify these behaviors. If you know someone who is currently in an abusive relationship, listen to them, support them, and encourage them to seek help. Let them know that you have their best interests at heart, and don’t lose their trust by getting angry or blaming them. Abusers often target people who have self-esteem issues, and eventually distort their view of reality. It is a real and difficult problem to untangle, and your loved ones need your support.
In case you haven’t seen the video below, I think it’s a pretty great way of explaining consent.
Please share your thoughts and experiences below! I hope we can have some discussion on this topic.