If you are romantically involved with someone who is often jealous or possessive, you may begin to feel that your relationship is unhealthy. If he controls your actions, tells you who you can or can't see, and makes you feel isolated or depressed, it means he is abusing you emotionally. More importantly, this type of torture can quickly get worse and become other violent forms of torture. Learn how to recognize the signs of his abuse and take action to end a relationship like this.
Part 1 of 5: Recognizing an Unhealthy Relationship
Step 1. Consider your feelings
Romantic relationships aren't always perfect, but in general you should feel good about yourself and your partner. If your relationship is abusive, for example, because of a possessive boyfriend, you may be experiencing very negative emotions. These are all signs that your relationship is unhealthy. You may experience feelings:
- Isolated or trapped
- Fear for your own safety or the safety of your children
- Want to kill myself
If you start thinking about suicide, call emergency services immediately or visit the ER
Step 2. Notice if your boyfriend acts as if he has you
The basis of possessive tendencies in a relationship is rooted in the word “possession”. Your boyfriend sees you as something to have and control.
Step 3. Count how often you see friends or family
A possessive boyfriend may not allow you to spend time with other people. Instead, he wants to be the center of your life. He may require you to cut off contact with friends, family, or coworkers. He will also try to destroy your support network to make you completely dependent on him. You will likely feel very isolated and alone.
Think of the other people in your life. How often do you see them? When you lose your support network, you may find it increasingly difficult to get out of an unhealthy relationship
Step 4. Consider how your boyfriend reacts when you talk to a stranger
A possessive boyfriend will control who you can meet and talk to. Rules from the boyfriend can even include strangers, such as restaurant waiters, shop employees, and supermarket security guards.
Step 5. Pay attention to how often your boyfriend is tracking your actions
A possessive boyfriend will keep an eye on what you are doing and where you are going. He will demand an explanation of where you are, what you've done, who you're talking to, what you bought, even what you read. This can lead to fatigue, so many victims stop doing certain activities to avoid interrogation.
Step 6. Pay attention to whether your boyfriend controls your access to certain resources
It may not allow you to use some sources of communication, such as telephone or internet, cars, school, work, or medical and health care. Restricting access to these communication sources is another way of making you completely dependent on them. This way, it can also control and track your actions.
Step 7. Consider whether your boyfriend accuses you of cheating
Many possessive parties will accuse their partner of having an affair. You may feel like you shouldn't talk to other guys just because your boyfriend is going to be jealous. Healthy relationships are built on trust and respect. You should be able to interact with whoever you want.
Step 8. Recognize signs of possessiveness disguised as caring
Your boyfriend may try to control your actions and behavior by disguising them as caring. He will make decisions about how you should act, but hides behind a mask that he is only trying to do "what's best for you."
For example, he may not let you drive because the car can be damaged and pose a safety hazard. However, it also won't help you fix the problematic car to keep it safe
Step 9. Think about how you communicate with him
You have to respect each other. Healthy couples are friendly to each other. They don't yell at each other, demean, yell, or show other signs of abusive behavior. They support each other both in private and in public. They also respect each other's boundaries. Healthy partners have personal boundaries (able to express their needs and preferences), and are firm in conveying those boundaries in a friendly and loving way.
When communicating assertively, people in healthy relationships can communicate it openly and honestly. This means that healthy partners can share their feelings and listen in a loving, open, and non-judgmental way
Step 10. Notice how the argument occurs
Not everyone will always come to an agreement, even in healthy times in a relationship. Misunderstandings, miscommunication, and conflicts must be resolved quickly and decisively. Assertive communication requires a degree of friendliness and respect. In addition, all parties in a relationship must work together to solve problems.
Healthy couples do not “blame each other”. Each party in a relationship must be responsible for their own behavior, thoughts, and emotions. They have to control their own happiness and destiny. They must also take responsibility for making mistakes and do what is necessary to make amends for their partners. For example, by starting to apologize
Step 11. Determine if the partner is gaslighting
Gaslighting is a method of emotional torture that involves manipulating and blurring events or behaviors so that partners don't trust their own judgments and abilities. This method is a way of controlling a person so that he is unable to function independently.
- An example of gaslighting is when your boyfriend reminds you of past actions but changes some of the details. Overall, this may seem accurate, but the small details he changes will be used to justify it and blame you.
- If your partner has been gaslighting for a long time, you may find it difficult to determine. You may not trust your own judgment and have low self-esteem. Think back to a time when you felt insecure about the way your partner reminded you of things. You may feel that he is remembering something wrong. This may indicate the beginning of gaslighting in your relationship.
Part 2 of 5: Recognizing the Signs of Torture
Step 1. Understand the definition first
An abusive relationship describes a situation in which a person consistently uses various tactics to control another person psychologically, physically, financially, emotionally, and sexually. A relationship characterized by domestic violence is a relationship with an unequal state of power.
Step 2. Know what emotional abuse looks like
This type of torture usually involves verbal abuse, where the tormentor systematically degrades your self-esteem by cursing, criticizing, showing no trust, acting as if you are his property, threatening, and taking advantage of your children or threaten them, and perform various other behaviors.
Possessive behavior is a type of emotional abuse, but this torture can also be accompanied by other bad actions
Step 3. Understand what physical abuse looks like
The actual act of physical violence is probably self-explanatory. However, for people who are used to growing up with this torture, sometimes physical violence may be seen as normal and healthy. Here are some signs of physical abuse:
- “Hair pulling, beating, slapping, kicking, biting or strangulation.”
- Refusal to fulfill basic needs, such as eating and sleeping.
- Destruction of goods or objects in the house, for example by throwing plates or punching holes in the walls.
- Threats with knives or guns, or use of weapons.
- Physical restrictions so you can't go, or are forced to call emergency services for help, or have to go to the hospital.
- Physical abuse of your children.
- Gets you out of the car and leaves you in weird places.
- Drive aggressively and dangerously while you are in the car.
- Forced to drink alcohol or take drugs.
Step 4. Identify forms of sexual abuse
This type of torture involves any sexual activity you don't want, including “sexual coercion,” which makes you feel forced to have sex. Another example is “reproductive coercion,” which means you can't choose not to get pregnant.
The tormentor may control how you dress, rape, transmit sexually transmitted diseases, give you drugs, or get you drunk to have sex with them. He can also impregnate or force an abortion, make you watch pornography, and so on
Step 5. Understand the various dimensions of financial torture
This torture can take the form of prohibiting the use of money, even if you work yourself to earn it. Torturers may also withdraw credit cards or create credit cards in your name and mess with their debt history.
Tortures can also move into your home without contributing to paying bills or expenses. Tortures may also withhold money for basic necessities, such as medicine or daily food
Step 6. Understand what torture looks like digitally
Tortures will use technology to threaten, stalk, bully, or torture you. He could use social media to send rude messages, or force him to know your keywords. He will also force you to hold your cell phone at all times or answer his call immediately when he calls.
Part 3 of 5: Taking Action
Step 1. Be realistic about whether your relationship is worth repairing
When you are in a possessive relationship, your partner must take responsibility for their actions. Many victims are used to thinking, “It's my fault” and “If only I had done it, he wouldn't have acted like this”. However, know that your partner has the full say in what actions they take. If your relationship deserves to be repaired, your boyfriend will have to change the way he acts. He had to initiate the change.
If your boyfriend is possessive enough that you feel isolated, trapped, depressed, anxious, or afraid, you may need to leave the relationship
Step 2. Ask a trusted friend or family member for support
Usually, someone who is in a possessive relationship will feel alienated from friends and family. He may stay away because he feels he will be judged or stigmatized. However, when you realize that you have to leave a relationship, you need this network of people. Even if you haven't spoken to a friend or family member for a long time, he or she may still have your back.
Ask for help. Talk to someone who can be supportive to discuss strategies for leaving your relationship
Step 3. Seek support through a domestic violence hotline
These services are provided by counselors who can help explore options and make plans to leave a relationship.
In the US, the National Domestic Violence Hotline also has a website for online chatting, except from 2 to 7 a.m. (Central time). The service staff will help determine the safest course of action. They also have a list of 4,000 safe houses around the US. They can help you and your children find the location if needed
Step 4. Create a personal security plan
This plan is a way of determining exactly what to do when you feel threatened or at risk.
- You can find plans like this on the internet, for example on this worksheet, produced by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (in English). Print the form and fill it out according to the instructions.
- Keep it in a safe place where your boyfriend can't find it.
Step 5. Run away immediately if you feel insecure
If your relationship with your boyfriend becomes dangerous, you don't need to explain why he left. Immediately leave the boyfriend and find a safe place to take refuge, such as a safe house.
The first priority is to keep yourself and your children and pets safe
Step 6. Trust your instincts
You may feel that your relationship is unhealthy and that your boyfriend doesn't respect you. Awareness of this may take a little time. However, when you are confident and honest, you can make changes to lead a healthier and safer life.
Part 4 of 5: Ending a Relationship
Step 1. Plan what you are going to say
Practice the words you will use when you break up. This will help you think about how to best express yourself. You may find it difficult to do so while in the victim's position. However, know that you deserve to be respected and heard.
Step 2. Choose the best place and time
Breaking up with someone is usually easiest to do in person. However, if your relationship is abusive, be careful and anticipate your boyfriend's reaction. If he doesn't seem like he's going to be rude, you can do so in person. Consider public places so he can't hurt or damage your belongings.
If he thinks he's going to be rude, walk away without explaining it directly. You can also leave notes if needed. If you have children or pets, take them with you
Step 3. Ask someone to accompany you
If you are concerned about your safety, ask a trusted friend to accompany you. This person can be a witness as well as an arbiter.
Step 4. Determine how his behavior affects how you feel
You can take this opportunity to let him know how you feel about his behavior. Use a firm communication style to convey your needs in a healthy relationship. Let him know that your relationship is not meeting your needs, so you should leave him.
You can give some specific examples of how he made you feel unappreciated, isolated, or controlled
Step 5. Watch out for the reaction
Anticipate the possibility that he may not listen to your explanation and become very defensive. He may be rude or apologetic, or just ignore you. Be strong and do what's right.
Step 6. Ignore the apology
Your partner may try to beg you to stay and forgive them. However, know that the promises will likely not be fulfilled. Torture can “repeat in cycles”, which means your partner may calm down for a while, but then he can come back to attack you. If you've decided to leave the relationship, put your conscience first. Ignore the apology and the plea.
If he threatens to hurt himself if you leave him, ignore him. The actions he takes are his own responsibility. He tries to use guilt to manipulate you into staying. What you need to prioritize is your own safety
Step 7. Call the police on 112 if you feel unsafe
If your partner is being rude, call 112 immediately. This will ensure that you are able to stop any physical abuse that may occur. You can also keep yourself safe when you and your children leave the house.
Tell the police about the physical abuse you experienced. Describe what happened in detail and indicate where you were injured. Let them take pictures of the signs immediately, also the next day when the bruises start to appear. These photos can be used as evidence in court. Write down the policeman's name and member number. Ask for a report or case number just in case it's needed. The police may detain your boyfriend if they determine he is a threat to your safety
Step 8. Find a safe haven
Make a list of all the places you can visit. Think of friends or family that your boyfriend doesn't know. Find a safe house. Safe houses are usually managed by non-profit organizations. These houses are secretly located and can be accessed 24 hours a day, so you can make a secret escape while your partner is sleeping. Safe houses can also help you coordinate with social services to help start a new life. In addition, you may also be given a personal protection order and various counseling services.
Step 9. Don't respond to communication attempts from your ex
He may keep trying to call, reach out via social media, or even ask to meet in person. Do not respond to these attempts.
- Delete the phone number. Disconnect with him on social media. Consider changing your phone number.
- If you feel like he's constantly following or spying on you, change your routine. Leave work or school at a different time and take a new route. If you feel unsafe, consider asking the police for personal protection services.
Step 10. Request personal protection services if needed
This service may be issued by the District Court in your area. This service offers legal protection against someone who harasses, stalks, threatens or intimidates you. The person will be barred from coming to your home or workplace.
Record in detail all contact attempts the couple makes. If he keeps trying to contact or stalk you, write down the time, place, and details of the incident. These facts can be used to obtain personal protection services when needed
Part 5 of 5: Moving On
Step 1. See a mental health professional
Depending on the level of the relationship you are leaving, you may have to see a counselor to discuss personal experiences. Using a professional is a good idea to understand the relationship and the behavior of your partner.
Step 2. Replant a feeling of security in yourself
After ending an abusive relationship that made you feel uncomfortable, take some time to feel safe again. This may mean being physically safe, safe from criticism and insults, poverty or other financial torment, as well as in your actions and behavior.
You can stay physically safe by taking self-defense classes. You can start to feel financially secure by finding a job and saving money
Step 3. Allow yourself to mourn
The end of a relationship can leave you feeling depressed, guilty, confused, or anxious. Express all these feelings. Do something creative, like make art or write a diary, to channel it.
Step 4. Take time for yourself
After leaving an unhealthy relationship, take time to dive into yourself. Do activities you enjoy, whether it's cooking, hiking, skiing, or watching a movie. Focus on what it takes to feel healthy again.
Step 5. Enter new relationships with caution
When you start thinking about entering a new relationship, you are likely to be cautious and perhaps a little suspicious. Be optimistic about it. However, if you feel you are seeing the same patterns as a previous relationship, end it immediately. Don't get caught in the same cycle again.
Identify the qualities you want in a partner. After being in an abusive relationship, take the time to set priorities for a healthy and successful relationship. Put yourself first
Step 6. Be strong and confident
Breaking off a possessive relationship can be very difficult, especially if you've been in it for a long time. Stay strong and believe in your ability to heal. Say positive words to let you know you've made the right decision.