Learn what the less obvious signs of an abusive relationship are, and how one woman survived the abuse of her boyfriend. Here’s how Keri Kight found the strength to leave an abuser and start fresh.
Keri mentors women who want to feel more in control of their lives. In this interview, she shares how she found herself in an abusive relationship. She shares different signs of what an abusive relationship is, and tells us what kept her from leaving her boyfriend.
And, Keri also offers tips for women who see the signs of an abusive relationship. If this is you – you think you’re being mentally or emotionally abused but you’re not sure – this article will change how you think about yourself and your partner.
At the end of this article are three resources for surviving an abusive relationship. Two are from the perspective of men who abuse, to give you insight into how and why abusive relationships happen.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
Interview – Keri Kight
Your partner wants your relationship to move fast – too fast. “I was in the relationship for almost a year and a half, and I ended up moving in with him after only knowing him for 3 months,” says Keri. “It was a disaster from the start. He asked me for money within a month because he said he ran out of money to pay his rent. A part of me wonders why I lost my mind, but I realize now I just wasn’t strong enough to say no. My self-confidence wasn’t where it needed to be and I have low self-esteem. I thought I was being nice and helpful, but in reality I was just hurting myself.”
Your partner makes you think you can’t survive – or find love – without him. “What held me back from leaving this abusive relationship was that he brainwashed me into thinking he needed me for survival. He made me think that if I left him that he would be homeless. I was a nice girl, but looking back I see that I wasn’t being nice to myself. Looking back I can now see the process he used to keep me around.”
Signs an abusive relationship is progressing:
“First he made me think that he needed me to survive,” says Keri. “Then he wanted to be with me every second of the day, and I later realized that it was because he wanted to watch my every move. I remember when he got so mad at me for texting a male friend. I had left my phone in the car, and he saw the text message. I thought I had done nothing wrong, but he brainwashed me into thinking I had somehow cheated on him. He helped ruin most of my friendships because I wasn’t able to talk to them without upsetting him. At first he was jealous of me talking to male friends, but then he became jealous of me giving attention to anyone. I couldn’t talk to a male waiter, or even say that I thought another girl was pretty. Everyone was off limits. He then started to tell me that no one likes me and that’s why I have no friends. Once he had me in this trap, he then started doing things without me. It was so heartbreaking and confusing. He would go places without telling me, and then not answer his phone. I think that was his “downfall” because that’s when I started secretly talking to other people.”
Summary of signs of some abusive relationships:
- Pushing you to move to fast
- Making you think you won’t be loved or survive without him
- Constant togetherness
- Isolation from friends and family
- Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
Sometimes, a sign of an abusive relationship is flattering. For instance, if he wants you all to himself and doesn’t want to share you with anyone, you may see it as a sign that he loves you. But it’s not. It’s manipulative and controlling.
If you feel like you can’t escape the signs of an abusive relationship, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
How Keri Survived the Abusive Relationship and Started Over
“I finally broke free when I met this guy at a party,” she says. “My boyfriend was off with his friends, not answering his phone, so I went to a party with one of the last friends I had. I met this guy and we started talking. Nothing more than a friendship blossomed, but he opened my eyes to what I was missing. We started hanging out and watching movies together, and he was so sweet and nice to me. He listened to me, and actually cared about what I had to say. I realized what a mess I was in with my boyfriend, so I slowly stopped talking to him. I started talking to people about the trap he put me in, and I ended up filing for an injunction with the local police department.”
And the signs of abuse got worse…“That’s when things spiraled out of control,” says Keri. “He started texting and calling me, hundreds of times a day. I was told by the police to save as much as I could because it was evidence against him. He threatened to kill me, and told me I better watch my back. He ended up not showing up for court, and later went to prison (he didn’t have a great record to begin with).”
Keri flunked out of school because she stopped going to my classes. Her boyfriend knew where her classes were, and had threatened to go to her classes. “I had to file for a Medical Withdrawal for the semester,” says Keri. “It meant I had to create a file of everything that had happened, which felt like I was reliving the signs of abuse all over again. My father had a similar personality of my ex boyfriend, so living with him was hard. Six months after I moved back home my father filed for divorce, so my mother was going through her own emotional problems before I had healed my own. I truly felt alone because I had ruined most of my friendships, my father was mad at me for letting it happen, my sister was too young to understand, and my mother was experiencing a similar situation from my dad.”
Keri’s story may help you see the signs of an abusive relationship in your own life. If you’re confused, read How to Know When to Leave a Relationship.
How to Leave an Abusive Relationship
Here are Keri’s tips on surviving if you notice signs of an abusive relationship:
Find space and freedom to heal. “My mom and I ended up fighting a lot, and for some crazy reason I moved in with my dad,” she says. “That didn’t last too long because he was only making my depression worse. I finally moved in with a friend and that’s when the healing truly began. I had freedom, and I had the opportunity to explore more about myself and who I was. Self-exploration is so very important if you want to know what makes you happy. I started going on vacations, and trying new things. I finally felt alive.”
Find your happiness – and hold on to it. Keri says she wish she had done more things for herself when she was younger. “Every woman needs to explore who they are, learn more about themselves, love themselves, and do what makes them happy,” she says. “If I had been self-confident, I believe I wouldn’t have let him control me. Find your happiness and hold on to it. You deserve it.”
Remember you are not alone. The signs of an abusive relationship may make you feel like you’re trying to survive this alone, but you’re not. Keri says, “There is always someone out there that is experiencing exactly the same thing. It’s true comfort to talk to someone that understands. Find someone that understands and wants to build a friendship. When I had moved back home, I had no one to talk to within my family because they had their own issues going on. My advice is to start talking to people. That doesn’t mean you need to spill your guts to everyone, but that you need to be honest with yourself about what is going on. Once I was able to open up, I found other women who had experienced the same thing, and I got comfort from them.”
Some final advice for women being abused from Keri:
“Don’t hide any longer. Let it out. Don’t let anyone tell you how long it’s going to take to “get over it.” You are your own person and you should take as long as you need to heal.”
Resources for Signs of an Abusive Relationship
- The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It by Leslie Vernick
- Emotional Abuse: Silent Killer of Marriage – A 30 Year Abuser Speaks Out by Austin James – learn why abusive men blame you for everything, must stay in control at all times, belittle your feelings and thoughts, and try to punish you
- Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
If you’d like to share your story, you are welcome to comment below! But, we’re not counsellors and can’t offer personal advice. We’re here to listen and give you virtual support. Often, simply writing your thoughts and experiences can bring clarity and insight.
I’ve written several articles on the signs of abusive relationships on my Quips and Tips for Love and Relationships blog. One of the most popular is 5 Stages Women Go Through Before Leaving an Abuser.
About Keri Kight: She works with women to build their self confidence so that they can find their true happiness. She believes that every woman deserves happiness, and the first step is to believe in yourself. You can find tips for positive living, happiness and gratitude on her website www.kerikight.com. Keri has lived in Florida her entire life and is ready to move to the mountains. She enjoys learning, meeting new people, and computer games.
If you have any comments on the signs of an abusive relationship or the resources for surviving abuse, please comment below.