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.
5 comments On Signs of an Abusive Relationship – and How to Survive
What sort of advice are you looking for, and what is your relationship to all the people in your story? Are you in an abusive relationship yourself, or is that something a friend or family member is dealing with?
Sometimes it helps to get a feel for who you are, before sharing thoughts or insights.
Also, what do you want to hear? What advice do you want to get? Sometimes it helps to figure out what you’re looking for – that tells you where your heart is and what you really want.
I know a guy we’ll call him Mr.x then well call the gal Ms. Z. These two dated for about a year it was one of those swept of their feet then were close before it had become obvious they weren’t compatible with each other. After 4 months he took her on a trip to Bahamas then they started fighting she called her roommate which was her ex-boyfriend to tell him she was in trouble. Mr X assured her that it was going to be alright so he called his roommate whom was a lady( call her Ms. P) he was having an open relationship with in which Ms. Z knew all along yet told Mr. X she didn’t like to share even though he still slept with his roommate Ms.P yet lied that he wasn’t. Things got worst with Mr. x & Ms. Z as time progressed they started Getting abusive with one another. Ms. P was getting depressed about Mr. X had taken Ms.z to the Bahamas after telling her where he’d been the last week with Ms. Z without telling Ms. P that he was going to be gone for a week. Ms. P got depressed yet Ms. Z was really putting in long hours at her job not only that she was texting with Ms. P telling each other how he was .Then Ms. Z & Mr. X went somewhere for the weekend then she started yelling at him early the day they were leaving their weekend adventure the he got up then ran over to Ms. Z then had her in a headlock. She started trembling as he let her go. Then as she drove home in her vehicle they started fighting then he punched her in the arm while driving that she had sprained her arm. afterwards she decided to group up with friends to leave him . Ms.Z told her roommate what happened he was furious so she finally decided to go away for a weekend. Then with her vehicle parked out in the apartment complex Ms. Z took off with friends not telling Mr. X,he drove up there in his car hung out all night in the car sleeping in it then the next day asking neighbors to call Ms.Z to see if she answer her phone as Mr.X thought Ms.Z was n her apartment yet was afraid her roommate was their that he might answer the door then would be a fight. When Mr X finally left back to his place 30 miles away the manager called Ms.Z roommate at work to tell him that some guy was hanging out that he was asking neighbors to call knock on the door for Mr.X so he can see Ms. Z. Turned out one lady called her number yet no prevail. Then when Ms. Z who was out of town came back the 2 neighbors came over the apartment on top of Mgmt. calling her roommate at work. He spoke with Police then she moved out not telling Mr. X where she was living. She would have no contact with him. She has moved on yet not so as Mr. X keeps being obsessive with her texting her leaving vile messages her new boyfriend told her get a restraning order civil case in which she is filing damages as Mr.x is avoiding service of court papers telling the Sheriff that Mr.X doesn’t live there anymore he has his family behind masking his whereabouts. Another lady filed Civil Harassment against him when the sheriff knocked on the door then dropped the papers at him then Mr.X started arguing with the sheriff then Mr.X started acting crazy as the sheriff entered his vehicle Mr.X stated running after the sheriif calling him names then giving him the finger throwing papers at the cop.Mr.x & Ms.P are meth heads to add to it they live together still I’m concerned for Ms.P thinking Mr.X might do something really crazy like maybe…????? Just thought I’d share a non-fictional story. Any suggestions or thoughts most welcomed indeed. Thank you.
What courage it took to get out of that relationship. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a guy many years back. I was fresh out of high school and he was significantly older than me. It took me going to college and being around people again to realize what I was in. After that it was just a few months later I was strong enough to break free, with the help of others. I had no sense of self-worth and didn’t think I had much going for me. I always struggled to make friends and allowed that to control my self confidence.
Now I’m married and to me he has truly given me the power and freedom to be my true self. I can’t ask for a better man.
I work with teenage girls and one of the big things I push is for them to know themselves, to know of their true value, and to know that their value doesn’t come from someone else. it is already there. They don’t earn it or work for it. They already have it! On top of that they have got to know themselves and truly love themselves.
I probably get on my soapbox more than I ought, but if I can help one girl be confident in herself then I have succeeded. Plus, think of all the choices we have to make every day. We can make good choices if we know who we are and what we stand for.
I’m grateful for you sharing your life and helping others on their way! You’re awesome.
it truly is a blessing to be able to share my story on your site. I want other women to know that they are not alone, and that there are people to help them get through the nightmare.
Now that I’ve healed, and learned what real love is, I have high standards for who is allowed into my life. I put myself first, and my happiness is of high importance in my life.
When I was in the relationship, I certainly ignored the signs because I was focused on the wrong things. I wanted him to be happy because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. The reality is that I was never going to be able to make him happy.
When you are your true self, you don’t need to do anything extra to make others happy. People will either love your or hate you. When you have high self confidence, you become okay with that fact.
Let your true self shine through. Let it out into the world, and find your happiness.
It take alot of courage to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship! Sometimes it’s easier just to ignore what’s happening, and hope that things will get better.
It’s also important to remember that there’s a dynamic or cycle of abuse that happens. It’s vicious, and so difficult to detect when you’re in the midst of it. Plus, women in abusive relationships often love their partners so much…it’s hard to leave for so many reasons!