Memoir Bytes: – The 10 Red Flags I Didn’t Pay Attention To – Domestic Abuse

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Vision perception - Memoirs

 

“Oh c’mon Deb, you never give a guy a chance,” my bestie Bri lectured on. “You have too many stipulations about dating before you let anyone into your life.”

 

I was managing an office for a PR firm when I met ‘him’. He’d drop by once a week to pick up work as a freelance editor, After five or six visits and a couple of flirty chats with ‘him’ he’d asked me out for dinner and I accepted,

‘He’ was somewhat handsome and at least gave some interesting conversation. He mentioned his failed marriage and almost had me feeling sorry for him. But as I am ever the skeptic, I always believed there are two sides to every story. It only took me a few more months to discover why he was most likely the ‘dumpee’.

We continued to date despite my nagging little doubts about things I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but my inner alarm system signaled something was amiss with this man, yet, my curiosity got the better of me. So I continued to date him. ‘His’ personality went from hot to cold – sometimes acting affectionate and sometimes downright mean – a streak I learned to fear.

Almost a year had passed and as so many of us do in life, I got complacent. I was in my early thirties when I had brainwashed myself into thinking this was the lot I was dealt, so I better make the best of it, instead of asking, Is this all there is? Don’t I deserve some of those tingly butterflies in my stomach when I’m kissed by the man I’m supposed to be loving?

Six more years went by I spent with ‘him’. In the earlier stages I had resolved myself to thinking that if I left, maybe I’d never get married. I settled for a roller coaster relationship. I thought I could ‘fix’ him. I thought nobody’s life is perfect. I learned to dance around his moods and fits of anger with great caution. After all, I’d made my choice. And like many other women in my situation – women who feel compelled to stay in toxic relationships, I thought I was stuck in that relationship for life.

It took a good few years until I realized myself, and with the constant badgering of friends and loved ones that I became a shadow of my former self. I became quiet, complacent, and had lost any self-esteem I’d worked so hard my whole life to build by allowing a man to demean, threaten and possess me. I would spend the last three years of that relationship making plans to get out of it. But finally I was free. It wasn’t as easy as just picking up and leaving as there became financial issues involved and threats I had to weigh out – would he make good on his word that if I tried to leave he’d make sure that nobody else would have me?

After my escape, I never felt fully free to talk about what went on in that relationship. When I did manage to escape, I was stalked for another two years. That feeling of being watched never goes away.

~~~

Many women in abusive relationships stay because they don’t see any alternatives, Some are reliant on their abuser’s financial aid and trade off freedom for captivity because of it. Some women are made to feel so worthless that they feel they are almost deserving of their situation. There are many reasons why women can’t seem to walk away, or run for their lives from toxic relationships. But there is always a way. When I finally got away, the concerns about my financial situation and how I was going to get by with the bills became the size of a raindrop when I compared it to how it felt to be alive and free. Doors do open. People who care will stand by and help us. There are also government programs and shelters to help women in these situations.

 

Red Flags to Pay Attention to Which are Unacceptable for a Healthy Relationship:

  • Being demeaned
  • Threats or blackmail
  • Uncomplimentary
  • Bossing around – making all the decisions, uncompromising
  • Raising a hand to you (even once is a flag of things to come)
  • No regard for your feelings or thoughts
  • Telling you what you can and cannot do
  • Making you feel insignificant
  • Criticizes everything you do
  • Apologizes, cries, begs you not leave and after, continues to do all of the above

 

There is absolutely no logical reason for remaining in an abusive relationship no matter what we think we’re sacrificing if we leave. The only sacrifice is ourselves when we stay.- D.G. Kaye

 

Last month Sally Cronin put up a lovely post in honor of International Women’s Day. I highly recommend this read. And besides the article itself, there is much to take in from the comments as well. Please visit Sally’s post by clicking the link below.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Coffee Morning in honour of International Women’s Day #PressforProgress

 

****Don’t forget to vote for your favorite bloggers for the Annual Bloggers Bash. I’ve been nominated for ‘Best Pal’ Blogger. Please VOTE HERE for your favorite Bloggers. This is the last week to vote before voting closes!

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93 Comments

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  1. Abuse comes in so many guises and once you reach the point of being really scared..Most of the time that is it we put up with it…Well written Debs 🙂 I have placed my votes ..Good Luck my friend 🙂 xx

    1. Thanks so much Carol. You said it, abuse comes in many guises. And thanks for voting my friend. Good luck to you too. <3 :)

  2. What a contrast to the loving hubby you have now. : – /

    Your sad story reminds me of Maya Angelou’s wise quote, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    Thankfully, you learned the lesson and moved on. Thanks for bravely publishing this cautionary tale for others, Debby.

    1. Thank you Marian. Absolute truth, when someone shows their colors. that is who they are. Thanks for sharing the Angelou quote. I was very lucky and learned a lot of lessons, most of all, I learned to never second guess my instincts and make excuses for unacceptable behavior. 🙂

  3. You are strong and an inspiration, Debby. I’m so glad you found better things at the end of your struggle. Thank you for helping other women to see that there’s hope for them and for showing us the signs to look for.

    1. Thanks for reading Amy, and for your lovely comment. I believe I should start writing more about this all too common topic. Every voice counts, thanks for the reminder. <3

      1. I would love to see you write more about it, especially in the current climate of violence against women.

        1. Thank you Amy <3

  4. Oh my heart goes out to you. The Debby I know now, I’d never think had that past. Kudos to you for moving so far beyond, it’s not even your shadow anymore.

    1. Thanks so much Jacqui. I touched on the subject ever so briefly in a chapter in my first book Conflicted Hearts. I so wanted to write much more but was absolutely petrified ‘he’ may find out. Perhaps it’s time to bring more to light. I didn’t become a force to reckon with without climbing a few mountains, that’s for sure. 🙂 x

  5. You have definitely come a LONG way. Can’t imagine you ever being in a relationship like that! 😉

    1. We learn, we grow. My 7 long years in that relationship made me teflon! 🙂

  6. Hi Debby – it is so interesting to read back-stories … so sad though – that people (both men and women) can act that way … but I’m delighted to see you here now and enjoying life – cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you Hilary. 🙂 x

  7. Such an important experience to share, Debby, for women who feel stuck in these relationships, thinking there’s no way out. But also for women who are just starting relationships that don’t feel quite right, who ignore those little chimes of alarm that haven’t yet grown into giant bells. Thank you for your wisdom, compassion, and courage. <3

    1. Thanks so much Diana. So many women feel helpless in these situations. There is always a way out, but often it’s the lack of courage or worthiness that holds us back from doing so. <3

  8. You have courage Debby and that will inspire others, and even just one woman takes back control of her life after reading then you have saved her from living in fear. I have shared parts of my story in the fiction that I write. There are physical scars and mental ones which have grown over and been healed by finding someone as you did. Unfortunately it is impossible to leave it all behind but writing about it, in memoirs or in fictional stories does release and morph the pain into something more manageable. love you my friend. ♥

    1. Thanks so much Sal for your sharing of yourself and your uplifting comments. You are so right, we have to start with one. If we can help one person with our stories and that person shares and more shares then we can make a difference.
      Love you too Sal <3 xxxx

  9. Scary but so common. Thank you for sharing your story. All forms of abuse are horrible, and maybe the most insidious kind of abuse is the emotional kind, which, when called out, turns into “what, can’t you take a joke?” The twist makes the victim quickly start to doubt herself. So easy to spiral downward from there.

    1. Thanks Kate. You hit the nail on the head, emotional abuse (which I took plenty of) does make you question yourself. For so long I wondered if I was being too hard on him with my hurt and anger. And when you are subjected to constant berating and demeaning, we somehow begin to believe we are not worthy. It’s a definite form of brainwashing. 🙂

  10. It’s hard when you first start realizing what’s going on and asking yourself, “Why the hell am I enduring this?” Of course, I attribute much of my tendencies to the bipolar mother who sorta raised me (to have all sorts of issues, haha). Making a change can be hard, but oh how liberating it eventually becomes and breeds the want of more and better changes to come.

    1. Thanks for sharing Jeri. I think when we feel trapped and looking for the logic of it all we question ourselves and must go through a process, similar to a grieving process, but in another way. 🙂

  11. Thanks, Debby. It is necessary to raise awareness also for those around, as sometimes people miss those signs too or don’t know what to do to help even when they see something is wrong. I’m sure sharing your story will encourage women who are living similar situations and can’t see a way out. Great to know you are safe and happy now.

    1. I sure hope so Olga. Thank you my friend. <3

  12. Deb, I can only imagine how you struggled with yourself when first deciding to publish this. Kudos for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. You are a mighty strong force of nature. I’m sure many women have benefited and will continue to benefit from your example. My hat is off to you, Sister ❤❤

    1. Thanks so much T, for your kudos and love and support. Yes, paying it forward. Like some of have said here, if I can save one person, it’s a blessing. <3 <3

  13. Great advice here, Debby. I wish it had been around for me too. Hugs, sister. <3

    1. Thank you sister. Hopefully it’s not too late for others. <3

  14. It takes such courage to share your story like this. <3 Courage to leave too. Abuse is layered and not always obvious. I wonder if when we're flipped into a rescuing situation, which we cannot solve, as a child, we move on to try and heal through rescuing others. It takes years sometimes (58 in my case), to work out that any kind of rescuing is not balanced and we are each responsible for ourselves. Huge, soft hugs for you and sharing in this way will help more people than you could ever know. <3 xXx <3 <3

    1. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom Jane. And I know exactly what you mean about trying to rescue others when it’s beyond our control. I was lucky to learn and get out of this relationship, even if it took 7 years. But I spend my first 50 years doing the same with my mother before I had to use ‘no contact’ measures to save my soul.
      I do hope I can help others. Thank you my beautiful friend. <3 <3 xxxxxx

      1. Wrapping you in love Debbie <3 xXx <3

        1. Thank you soooooooooo much Jane. Feels good. 🙂 <3 xoxo

  15. Debby, you are such a wonderful vibrant person, full of strength and articulate … it must have been heartbreaking for family and friends to see you dimish to just a shadow of yourself. Kudos to you that you found a way out and have such a loving and close marriage now. Hugs, my friends … it can’t have been easy to share. Xxx❤️

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Annika. I was one of the lucky ones. So I hope my stories can inspire and/or give hope to those who haven’t yet found their freedom. 🙂 <3

  16. Again, your courage in opening up and writing your pain is astounding. And helpful to so many. And of course, your courage within helped you break free from this hurtful relationship. I think the biggest courage you’ve demonstrated, though, is finding and trusting true love after all.

    1. Thanks so much Pam. One bad apple doesn’t have to ruin it for everyone. Lessons and caution can help us move on. 🙂

  17. Oh, there’s lots of kinds of abuse. Sister, hats off to you for sharing–something that is never easy. I agree with what Annika has said. You are an amazing lady you know, a survivor, a real example of what doesn’t kill you. Your example can only help others xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Thanks so much my lovely. I sure hope I can help someone by sharing. You reminded me about that FB meme with a park bench – if I were any stronger I’d be lifting park benches. LOLLLLL 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxx

  18. An amazing story of your resilience in getting away from a man who never deserved you. You learned well, Sis. <3

    1. Thanks sis! I lived to tell! 🙂 <3

      1. I have a similar story but it is one I won’t relive or write. I give you credit for meeting that dragon again! <3

        1. Thanks for sharing this sis. It’s not easy for many to share, quite understandable. You know where I am. <3 <3

  19. This is an excellent post and you’re right, there is no reason to remain in abusive relationships. I had to stop normalizing and enabling the abuse before I could leave.
    I had to understand that I deserved genuine love.

    1. Thanks Rob. Perhaps you and I were lucky that we finally developed the insight to leave. It can be a difficult thing and sometimes hard to see the horizon, but there is one! 🙂

      1. Oh yes, and one must never give up the struggle to understand.

        1. Amen to that Rob. 🙂

  20. Well done for leaving him and moving on with your life. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have found your soul mate. x

    1. Absolutely. Goes to show what happens when we have a little faith and take the leap. <3

  21. It is the way the abuser makes their victim feel so worthless and helpless that keeps them trapped. It takes a lot of guts to break free, and then have to deal with the stalking too. So glad you broke free dear Deb <3

    1. Thanks so much Sher. Unbreakable! <3 xoxo

      1. For sure Deb, for sure! <3 <3 <3

  22. What a powerful post Deb! I appreciate how you have shared the most personal trauma of living in the shadow of somebody who didn’t deserve you. I am glad you could muster the strength to escape! Love and hugs dear friend.

    1. Thank you Balroop. There comes a time to speak out 🙂 x

  23. If only this post could be stuck on all the walls of the hearts of all those men and women in these kind of relationships. You’ve made a great start by publishing it, Debby. I hope it goes on to help many people.
    Hugs to you.

    1. Thank you Hugh. I hope so too. 🙂 xx

    1. You’re a doll Sal, thank you. <3

  24. So good of you to share this. It will encourage those trying to get out!

    1. Thank you so much Linda. 🙂

  25. Debby reading this my heart bled for you!

    1. Thank you Paul. It was a long time ago, and I was fortunate to learn and leave. I hope it inspires others to do the same. <3

  26. A terrible and tragic situation to be in, Debby. When I think of abused women, I always think of Beverly in It by Stephen King; first abused by her father and then by her husband. The first seemed to set her up for the second.

    1. Thanks Robbie. Despite not reading that book ( I don’t like horror), it’s not hard to understand that so much of what we endure as children follows us through life. Unless we can help ourselves or get the appropriate help. those people continue to live in what is familiar to them. Sad.

  27. This is a fantastic post, Debbie. It is such a relevant and universal topic and you addressed it with ease and grace and with solid suggestions for resolving it. Sharing everywhere!

    1. Thank you so much Jan. <3 <3

  28. Thank you Debbie for having the courage to write on an issue that still in our modern world is a bit hush-hush. You are such a positive and loving person and I am sure nobody but your closest friends knew what your daily life was like. By opening up you set yourself free and met a world where you were treated with respect and love.

    There are many medical studies now showing the grave health dangers of living in such abusive relationships. It also explains why anyone keeps staying.
    I have written two poems on the matter with the titles of :
    ” Fake Facades”. and. “Broken Doll”

    Bless you and may you continue to shine like the woman you always were.
    Miriam

    1. Thank you Miriam. So true their are also health dangers (besides threats on our lives) that come with this unsettling life situation. Mental health issues can take effect, not to mention plenty of stomach ailments from fear and anxiety, and I should think the list could grow from there. I shall be checking out your poems. Thank you for your kindness. <3

  29. Writing your story just might be the ticket for others to take the same brave steps that you took. Wonderful thing to do, Debby. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Jennie. I sure hope so. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome, Debby. 🙂

  30. This is such an important post Debbie.. And one that I know many of my work colleague friends found themselves in these types of relationships or marriage.. Even my own parents had this volatile love hate relationship, with one always threatening to leave, while the other said they would change.. And yet nothing ever did..
    The rest you know..

    So many woman feel trapped, nowhere to go, and no one to confide in.. I’m sorry you had this ALSO to contend with in life.. As if childhood wasn’t enough.. Thankfully you did break free and found the love you so deserve…

    Sending HUGE hugs my friend as I attempt my catch up this afternoon. 🙂

    1. Thank you Sue for your compassionate words, and for sharing again, some of yourself. Despite our wounds in our younger lives, it seems we were blessed to come our alright on the other side. Love and hugs across the pond to you my friend. <3 xx

      1. I think we are the lucky ones Debby,, Instead of our childhoods shadowing our lives, we allowed those shadows to illuminate our hearts so that we could share some light with others.. <3

        1. I agree Sue. I believe that is part of our purpose here. 🙂 <3

  31. Thank you for sharing this post, Debby. Some women need to read this to realize that they are bein enslaved. I was in a relationship many years ago like this. It’s not something I talk about. I finally got out of it but not before harming my self-esteem. It took a long time to become stronger and self-assured. Still working on being my own person. Kudos to us, Debby, for doing it! Hugs xx ❤️

    1. Thank you for sharing that painful part you endured too Janice. Women need to hear that there are so many of us who have been there, and that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel we just have to follow it. You and I are blessed to have overcome and to have wonderful husbands. <3 <3 xx

      1. Yes, we are fortunate now. Thanks to God! Hugs xx ❤️

  32. Such an important topic, Debby. It was probably harder to isolate it and write about it here than in your book. Your courage despite the threats is what will encourage others in these dark seemingly hopeless situations.
    Let’s feature this post to take advantage of your experience and winning through to help others.
    Kathleen
    Blogger’s Pit Stop

    1. Oh thank you so much Kathleen that is very kind of you to help spread the word. I always hope my lessons and triumphs will in some way help others. By you sharing it as a featured article it is sure to reach more eyes. 🙂

  33. I’m so pleased you released yourself from that abusive relationship, Debby, and found such a good man in your husband. You deserve joy in your life. It was good of you to highlight the ten red flags. They are important markers. It is so sad that many feel powerless to escape the abusive situations in which they find themselves.

    1. Thank you Norah. Yes, it is sad that too many still feel trapped and aren’t empowered to take themselves out of unhealthy relationships.

      1. Agreed. Too many stay and are taken out in rather more unpleasant ways.

    1. Thank you. 🙂

  34. I hate to admit it, but when I was younger, I thought women who stayed in an abusive relationship were weak. That would never happen to me. If something is totally wrong, just leave!

    Now, having become wiser, and understanding more of the dynamics that go on in relationships, the mutual feelings and past, and having met all kinds of personalities, I realize nothing is that easy as just leaving a relationship, without emotions, certain losses and unattractive circumstances involved. I’m glad you got out of this one Debby, and I appreciate the list of red flag signs you posted!

    1. Thanks Liesbet. No, nothing is easy and it’s often easy to judge when we aren’t wearing the shoes. I sure hope my flags help others recognize unhealthy signs of a relationship. 🙂

  35. elainemansfield

    Wow, Debby. From your mother’s abuse to this guy’s abuse. That’s not an unusual path. I’m so glad you got away. As we all know, many women don’t have the courage. Fear is paralyzing. I was so fortunate to meet a man with none of those warning signals and to have an abuse-free marriage. You paid hard dues, but I’m grateful you found a loving supportive husband who appreciates you. Fly free!

    1. Thank you Elaine, I”m flying free now. Courage can be the hardest thing to muster in these situations. It still took me a long time but I finally learned. There is always hope. 🙂

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