I have been on this amazing journey the past few years. I have been trying to figure out my life so far and what I have learned from it and what I can share with others. A while agoI saw a link, “Signs of an abusive relationship.” So I clicked on it. Wow, interesting. Oh my gosh. Wait.I had some of these 23 signs in my previous marriage. Much of my 21 years of marriage I didn’t feel “abused” but the signs were on the paper and had been in my life. So, if I didn’t see all of these signs and do something about it, how many people are out there in the same position as I was? Can I help them now?

Another truthful confession of my life. Emotional abuse- I had to be out of my marriage to realize there was some abuse.I was not being physically abused, so I didn’t put it in the same category as an “abusive relationship”. I put it in the category of ‘I wasn’t super happy’ but made the best of it andwas extremely committed to the marriage. The relationship just didn’t feel right. My previous husband always told me he loved me and I know he believed it and I did, too. I’m finding out our relationship was a different kind of love.We were both barely 19 when we married– it was all I had ever known in a marriage. My kids probably wouldn’t say it was abusive- they were protected from much of it and I would not say our home life was bad. A lot of it was my feelings that I never let out. I had to be out of the relationship for a few years and in adifferent marriage, to step back and see what was going on. That sounds so unbelievable. Maybe I couldn’t face the truth when I was there? Maybe I just didn’t want to fail or hurt anyone? Maybe I had fear of the unknown? Maybe I was putting everyone’s happiness above my own? –Probably a little of all of those.

There are many kinds of abuse. Emotional abuse hurts you on the inside. It may be harder to see the reasons to get out of a relationship- you can’t see the scars, bumps or bruises. There are also different degrees of the abuse and it’s hard to understand if you have never been in a relationship like this. Some are scary where someone’s life could be in danger- I never felt that way at all. There may be other things besides emotional abuse that are in the relationship such as health issues so you don’t know what is going on- that’s how I felt. Is this a health, mental or emotional issue? I have learned a great lesson on not judging. You never know what is going on inside other people’s lives. You also don’t know what is going on in your life unless you seek professional help. I thought our relationship just had personality differences. We could have really used some advice, but never asked. Now I am committed to awareness. Recognizing any kind of abuse is the first step. My hope is that I can help just one person get the help they need.

The website, Helpguide.org, says:

“Signs of an abusive relationship:

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner€”constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up€”chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more €œyes€ answers, the more likely it is that you're in an abusive relationship.

Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings Your Partner's Belittling Behavior
Do you:feel afraid of your partner much of the time? Does your partner:humiliate or yell at you?
avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner? criticize you and put you down?
feel that you can't do anything right for your partner? treat you so badly that you're embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated? ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
wonder if you're the one who is crazy? blame you for their own abusive behavior?
feel emotionally numb or helpless? see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
Your Partner's Violent Behavior or Threats Your Partner's Controlling Behavior
Does your partner:have a bad and unpredictable temper? Does your partner:act excessively jealous and possessive?
hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you? control where you go or what you do?
threaten to take your children away or harm them? keep you from seeing your friends or family?
threaten to commit suicide if you leave? limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
force you to have sex? constantly check up on you?
destroy your belongings?

Domestic abuse, also known asspousal abuse,occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help.Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain€”and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.”

My best advice is to listen to your gut. I had many times where my gut was screaming at me and I looked the other away because of fear. I realize now, years later that one of the reasons why that relationship didn’t feel right was I wasn’t standing up for me. If I would have recognized that there is help out there, I could have gone to counseling, help groups, read books, etc and those would have supported me and our marriage. I know Jay would have chosen to do that for our relationship as well. We just didn’t know. Now looking back 20/20, if I had more self confidence to stand up, instead of enabling it, things could have turned out differently.

***This blog post is not intended to be against my previous husband at all, but is intended to bring awareness to a very fixable problem. I take full responsibility for my part in our relationship and I do not see myself as a victim. If I can help one person get the support they need, then this feeling of vulnerability I have right now will be worth it.