Because of the various intersections that are at play in an abusive relationship, or domestic abuse, relationship advice can often seem easier said than done. If you feel like you are in an abusive relationship, but unsure, it can be useful to seek help and guidance from a therapist. Before looking for relationship advice though, you may wonder what exactly qualifies as an abusive relationship?

Domestic abuse is when an individual in an intimate relationship tries to control or dominate their partner physically, psychologically or emotionally. An abuser will use guilt, fear, shame, and intimidation to control you. They may also physically or emotionally hurt you or your loved ones, and threaten you. It is important that you realise that under no circumstance is abusive behaviour acceptable, and that you deserve to feel safe, respected, loved and valued.

Signs that you are in an abusive relationship needing relationship advice

Anyone at any stage of their life can find themselves in an abusive relationship in need of relationship advice. It is important not to excuse or deny the abuse if you or someone you love is in what you think may be an abusive relationship. The first step to putting an end to the abuse is to acknowledge the signs, some of which include;

  • Constant jealousy and possessiveness
  • Controlling behaviour like demanding to know where you were or who you were speaking to, controlling the finances, or insisting that you need to ask for permission to do anything
  • Isolating you from your friends or family, or not allowing you to work, drive or have your own phone
  • Refusing to take responsibility for their actions or emotions, so that their mistakes or the way that they feel is always someone else’s fault
  • Pushing for an exclusive commitment almost immediately in the relationship
  • Cruelty toward animals or children
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Unrealistic expectations of perfection from you
  • The use of force, even if “playful”, during sex
  • Threatening to use violence
  • Frequent mood swings so that it is difficult to know where you stand
  • Rigid patriarchal gender roles
  • The individual admits to having a history of abuse toward previous partners

If you recognise these signs of an abusive relationship it is important that you seek relationship advice so that you can live a life where you feel safe.

Relationship advice for leaving an abusive relationship

If you are in an abusive relationship and feel overwhelmed and unable to leave, the following relationship advice may help.

  1. Acknowledge the abuse.

Abuse isn’t only physical, it can be emotional or psychological as well, making it very difficult for some people to acknowledge that they are in an abusive relationship. If you feel like you are walking on eggshells most of the time, chances are you are in an abusive relationship

  1. Seek help.

You are not alone. This cannot be stressed enough. There are many organizations that have the resources to help and guide you through this period.

  1. Use a safe computer.

The time that you need to be most vigilant is when you are planning to leave, so make sure that you use a computer that your partner does not have access to while you research and plan to leave.

  1. When you have left the relationship, look into what led you into it.

It is important to seek counselling once leaving an abusive relationship for a number of reasons, but especially so that you do not repeat the same mistake. Take the time to look into how you found yourself in an abusive relationship so that you can move forward in your life having only the nurturing and loving relationships that you deserve. There are many organisations and therapist who can give you the therapy and relationship advice you need to do this.

Louw Alberts has experience in relationship counselling. Louw Alberts is a psychologist and counsellor in the Pretoria, Centurion area.