Warning signs of abusive behavior

“Stupid people should have to wear a sign,” comedian Bill Engvall jokes, “that way you wouldn’t rely on them, would you? It would be like, ‘Excuse me…oops…never mind, I didn’t see your sign.’ “ As funny as his routine is, it would be nice if Engvall’s vision of life was real. How great would it be if people came with signs or warning labels? If abusers were forced to wear a flashing sign that said “I’m an abuser,” and psychopaths came with the warning label, “Proceed with caution: I’m crazy,” then we would know not to trust them and we wouldn’t date them. Unfortunately, identifying an abuser is not this easy. When I was a teenager and I was stuck in an abusive relationship, it took me a long time to realize that what my boyfriend was doing was wrong. I thought we had a perfect relationship; the abuse started so slowly and so subtly that I didn’t know it was abuse until it was too late. Abusers aren’t dressed up in dark, scary clothing. They don’t look like the villains we see in children’s movies or books. Instead, they are often charming. They can be the life of the party; funny and popular. One of the scariest parts about abusers is how hard they can be to identify. As a teenager, it can be even harder to identify an abusive relationships because you are new to the world of dating . There are several things you can keep an eye out for in relationships. The sooner you pick up on red flags the better your chances of getting...

7 things to remember while recovering from abuse

During a soccer game when I was thirteen years old, I stole the ball from a defender on the other team and found myself on a fast break toward the goal. I can still remember the rush of excitement through my entire body, my legs pounding down the field as I told myself that no one could stop me, I was going to score. Then suddenly, a defender slid into me from behind, completely missing the ball but sweeping my legs out from under me. I fell backwards, landing directly on my back as the wind was knocked out of me. The defender was given a red card, dismissing her from the game. After a moment I caught my breath, stood up, and took the penalty kick, scoring a goal for my team. I played the rest of the game, somehow uninjured by the nasty tackle. The next morning, however, as I picked up my backpack and took a step up to climb on my school bus, I felt a pop in my back followed by a pain so sharp it was like someone had literally stabbed me with a knife. The pain was so severe that I couldn’t go to school that day. My mother took me to the doctor, where I found out that two of my vertebrae had been knocked out-of-place, causing my hips to fall out of line and the muscles surrounding the trauma to spasm and tighten, locking my left leg two inches lower than my right and leaving my body in a crooked mess. I didn’t understand. I had gotten up and played...

111 ways to say NO to sex

No thanks. Not tonight, how about in ten years? If you really loved me you would wait. Let’s just kiss instead. If you really loved me you would stop asking. How about we watch a movie instead. We might get caught. I don’t want to be just another one of your girls. Ummmm….nope! My parents trust me and I don’t want to break their trust. Haven’t you ever watched 16 and Pregnant? I don’t want to end up like that. I’m not ready to be a mother, so I don’t want to put myself at risk. I think we should get to know each other better first. How about we just cuddle? I have a rule that I’m not going to have sex till I graduate from high school (or graduate from college, get married, turn 18, turn 30, have been dating someone for over a month, over a year, over 5 years…pick whatever works for you!) No, and if you ask again I’m not talking to you anymore. I love you, but I just don’t feel like I am ready and I want it to be special, not forced. My mother (sister, cousin, brother, best friend, uncle, neighbor, or someone you completely made up) told me that they had sex before they were ready and it ruined their relationship and they regretted it. I don’t want to make that mistake. It just doesn’t feel like the right time. I can’t because of my religion. I don’t feel well, I think I’m getting sick. I can’t. I have my period. I don’t want to have to worry. My parents...

Things to remember to help you through a breakup

Love. What a confusing word. To a victim of abuse, this word is tarnished, burned as it is used for so many contrasting emotions. At one point, love was wonderful. Love was a connection between two people. It was something you searched for and longed for, something that grew inside you. Something warm and comfortable and exciting. In the beginning of my first relationship,  love was everything I imagined it would be, and more. Love was having someone to cuddle with. Love was finding notes in my locker and getting sweet text messages and having someone tell me that I was beautiful and that I was amazing. Love made me feel alive. It made me smile when I woke up in the morning and smile throughout the day and smile when I got back in bed at night, thinking about love. Then, slowly, love became my abuser’s excuse. Love was the cause for jealousy. Love made him scared he would lose me, love made him cling and pry. Love was his reason for everything he did. “This is all because I love you so much….I don’t mean to hurt you, I just love you so much it makes me feel like I am going crazy…People only find love like ours once in a lifetime, I can’t let you throw it away.” Love was the excuse for the dirty words. It was the reason he climbed on top of me, held me down. It was what made him follow me, what made him call 50 times in a row. Love was the force behind his fingers as they gripped my...

Help! I’m in love with an abuser

Love. What a confusing word. To a victim of abuse, this word is tarnished, burned as it is used for so many contrasting emotions. At one point, love was wonderful. Love was a connection between two people. It was something you searched for and longed for, something that grew inside you. Something warm and comfortable and exciting. In the beginning of my first relationship,  love was everything I imagined it would be, and more. Love was having someone to cuddle with. Love was finding notes in my locker and getting sweet text messages and having someone tell me that I was beautiful and that I was amazing. Love made me feel alive. It made me smile when I woke up in the morning and smile throughout the day and smile when I got back in bed at night, thinking about love. Then, slowly, love became my abuser’s excuse. Love was the cause for jealousy. Love made him scared he would lose me, love made him cling and pry. Love was his reason for everything he did. “This is all because I love you so much….I don’t mean to hurt you, I just love you so much it makes me feel like I am going crazy…People only find love like ours once in a lifetime, I can’t let you throw it away.” Love was the excuse for the dirty words. It was the reason he climbed on top of me, held me down. It was what made him follow me, what made him call 50 times in a row. Love was the force behind his fingers as they gripped my...