In college, we want to try to new things. It’s college, we’re supposed to want to experiment. However, justifying a bad or abusive relationship as a college experience or justifying it for any reason at any point in our life is not okay. But what qualifies as a bad relationship? What are the signs? Most of us don’t know, whether we are in a relationship or not.
If you’re in a relationship, there are numerous signs. Does your partner have a bad and unpredictable temper? Does he/she hurt you or threaten to hurt you or kill you? Does he/she force you to have sex? Does he/she destroy your belongings? Does he/she act excessively jealous and possessive? Does he/she control where you go or what you do by constantly checking up on you, keeping you from seeing your friends or family, limiting your access to money, the phone, or the car? If any of these things are true, get help.
Not all bad relationships need to be violent to be abusive. Relationships can be emotionally abusive as well. There is some overlap between a physically abusive relationship and an emotionally abusive one, such as isolating you from friends and family, threatening to commit suicide if you leave, constant checking up with you, domination and control. But there are other signs as well. Does your partner withdraw affection, make everything your fault, or guilt trip you? Does he/she ignore or exclude you? Refuse to communicate? Humiliate or embarrass you in public or in private? Does he/she use sarcasm and an unpleasant tone of voice when speaking to you or have unreasonable jealousy? Does your partner have extreme moodiness or constantly make fun of you? If any of things are true, than you are in an emotional abusive relationship and need to get help.
Abusers will justify their behavior by convincing you that you don’t deserve better treatment or that they are doing this to “help” you. You do deserve better treatment, and there is nothing wrong with you that needs to be fixed.
If you are a friend of someone you suspect may be in an abusive or bad relationship, there are signs that may suggest that something isn’t right. He/she may have physical wounds such as bruises, scratches, black eyes, or worse. However, abusers are often smart enough to inflict wounds in areas easily hidden by clothing. Speaking of clothing, his/her clothing may change to disguise the evidence of physical abuse. He/she may stop wearing short sleeves and shorts even in hot weather and begin wearing scarves. The change in clothing may be used as a tactic the spouse uses to fend off potential suitors and to hide these actions. He/she is noticeably less confident and less social. You rarely see your friend and when you do, he/she doesn’t walk as confidently or speaks up less. His/her body language changes, crossing their arms across their body, walking with downcast eyes, and avoiding conversation to distance themselves from others. He/she is always distracted, always glancing over his/her shoulder, at the clock or cellphone. He/she is attached to a cellphone when he/she is not with his/her spouse.
It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. If you believe that you may be in an abusive relationship or are a victim of domestic violence, then it is okay to seek help and more importantly end the relationship. No one has the right to make you feel unimportant, unworthy or treat you terribly. If you suspect that you or a friend might be in an abusive relationship, there are numerous sources available, such as family members and friends. The Counseling Center is available in the Health Center as well as numerous help hotlines if you wish to be anonymous. One such help line is the Johnson County Crisis Center located in Iowa City. Their number is (319) 351-0140.