There were red flags, but I didn’t notice.
I rolled my eyes as they excused the behaviour and listed all their abuser’s good qualities, telling me I just didn’t understand. I was sure if it ever happened to me, I would be out of there quick smart.
What I didn’t consider, is that I wouldn’t actually know I was being treated badly.
It sounds ridiculous; shitty behaviour is so easy to spot, right? Except that it’s not. Emotional abuse is not a switch that flips – it’s more like a slow, steady slide. One minute you’re in love, then there’s a flicker of something not right, but you’re still in love so it doesn’t matter. You explain away the tiny changes, justify his actions, maybe even blame yourself. Eventually the small things add up, but because of your love-coloured glasses you can only see them as a bunch of little problems, not one massive red flag.
The biggest indicator that things had gone very, very wrong was the reaction from my friends and family when I told them I’d broken up with my boyfriend.
Rather than shock, the response was one of relief. They were glad it hadn’t ended in the engagement I’d wanted so badly. They’d wanted to say something for ages. They were happy I was getting away from him. One of my friends even said, “Oh thank god, honey. Thank god.”
Not a single friend said they were sad we were over.