6 Things To Know When You Are Dating Someone Who Has Been Abused

6 Things To Know When You Are Dating Someone Who Has Been Abused

"Take my hand and reassure me that I am safe with you."

Everyone has quirks and eccentricities. Little things that drive you crazy when you are in a relationship with them. But if you are dating someone who has a history of being abused, these quirks can be much more serious and drastic. These are six important things that you should be aware of if you are dating someone who has been abused.

1. Patience is key.

This one is the first one for a reason. Someone who has been told time and time again that they are not worthy or good enough, will have trouble believing you when you try to prove otherwise. Patience is important for both of you. They will take time to open up to you as well as trust you not to hurt them. They will close themselves off at times and try to hide away. Your patience is the best thing to improve the situations.

It’s difficult for me to open up to people about my past. I find it both embarrassing and difficult to talk about. So I don’t. Feeling comfortable around someone takes a while, and then I might start opening up a little at a time. If you come at me with questions and get frustrated that I can’t communicate my past to you all at once, I am more likely to shut down completely. Give me time.

2. Communication needs to be clear.

After an emotional or mental abuse situation, communication with someone new can be tricky. It is very important to be as clear as you can about what you want and need. Emotional abuse can mean lots of ultimatums, and petty comments, as well as criticisms. It is best to be as honest and open as you can. If you don’t like something, talk about it calmly and explain what bothers you. Try to refrain from name calling and issuing ultimatums to get what you want.

3. Be honest about your frustrations.

People will frustrate you. It’s inevitable. We are only human and no one is compatible in every aspect all of the time. But when dealing with someone who has experienced abuse, communicating your frustrations is an important part of showing respect.

If you are angry about something, it’s best to explain why you are angry and what could have been done differently to make the situation less stressful. If my guy gets angry, even about something small, I get scared. It’s a reaction that I have grown to expect and deal with. Even if I know the anger is not directed towards me, I mentally prepare myself to have the majority of the anger thrown my way.

Being angry at someone who expects abuse as a reaction, is dangerous. Take time to calm down a bit before addressing an issue. Walk away to avoid an outburst.

4. They will need reassurance.

One aspect of emotional and mental abuse is lying and blaming. I will constantly ask if something that I am doing is okay. Am I bothering you? Should I stop? Are you sure you don’t mind? Sometimes I will ask if I can touch my guy before I do it. And then I will ask if I am annoying him by hugging him.

Little things that don’t seem to mean much, are big to me. I was taught that most things that I did, were wrong, or bothersome. That my need for comfort was a burden. My request for a hug was met with a curse and an eye roll.

So I will ask before I even try now. I know not every person will find everything that I do, to be annoying. But I still like to ask first.

5. Small gestures and acts of kindness go a long way.

I have always been a giving person, and one way that I show love is by taking care of people. Offering to help them in small ways and doing things for them out of kindness. However, this was never reciprocated in any way, and instead became expected and criticized. My acts of kindness became chores that were never done correctly or quickly enough.

And because these small acts meant so much to me, withholding them became a form of abuse. I grew to expect nothing from my previous partner and instead felt that he was taking advantage of my giving nature. He took from me, and then criticized what he got.

People that have experienced abuse are generally expecting the bare minimum in terms of affection as well as appreciation. So doing small things to show that you care, can go a long way. When I offer to do the dishes or take out the trash, and my guy really seems to appreciate the offer, it makes me feel good. And on the other hand, when he offers to put a band-aid on my finger after I cut it, I am positively giddy.

There are all kinds of ways to show that you care about the person that you are with. And for someone who has been starved of affection, even the smallest things can mean more than you could imagine.

6. They will most likely expect violence.

This one is the hardest for me to explain. It goes along with being clear about why you are angry, and trying to stay calm. When someone gets angry, especially someone I am in a relationship with, I expect violence. I have unfortunately experienced more physical violence than I admit to, and that violence has left lasting effects on both my body and my mind.

If my guy gets angry, I EXPECT that he will take it out on me. When he gets road rage, my body immediately tenses. If I spill a drink in the kitchen, my breath quickens because I am waiting for the punishment. And if I do something that he doesn’t understand or appreciate, I immediately apologize and tense up.

I learned to expect pain as a reaction to things. So if you are yelling at someone for cutting you off, and you see me flinch or move away from you, take a breath and hold my hand. Smile and reassure me that I am safe with you. This won’t be necessary forever. But it helps.

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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5 Simple Steps To Being A Better Girlfriend

One of the most important aspects of a relationship is learning to grow as a couple and as individuals.

Like most people who find themselves to be a 'perfectionist', I am always trying to be a better version of myself. Whether it's by being a better friend, teammate, coworker, or student, learning to grow and better ourselves is never an easy process. And one of the most important aspects of our life that requires continuous progression is our personal relationships.

We're always told that changing for the person you're dating is a negative thing, but I don't think that's necessarily true. In my opinion, the people we who are worth dating are the people who should help us change us for the better. Like most things in life, that change can only happen if we are open to it's benefits.

In order for a relationship to change us for the better, you have to want to make that change for yourself.

When you find someone you truly love, then you want to be the very best for them. Since every relationship is different, that means being the best for your boyfriend is also different for every relationship, but there are a few things that every girl can try in order to be a better half in their relationship. Here are five simple steps to being a better girlfriend.

1. Accept his apology the first time he gives it

No relationship and no boyfriend is ever perfect. We all make mistakes, so apologies are just another part of life, but one of the hardest things about being in a relationship is learning to accept these apologies the first time they're given. It's unfortunately true that the people we care about the most are also usually the people we are hardest on. So, when your boyfriend does something that hurts you, it tends to be more upsetting then if it had been done by someone else. It can be all too easy to lose your temper and hold onto that anger longer than is necessary.

One easy way to be a better girlfriend is to start accepting your boyfriends apology the first time he gives it. Even when you're angry, you have to think about the person you truly love. Although they may have hurt you, that is not a good reason for you to hurt them back. If they genuine love you, then they already feel bad enough. Don't be the one to make them feel worse. Be the one to forgive and move forward. It's what you would want him to do for you, so you should do the same in return.

2. Spend some time only talking about him

I think it's fair to say that in most relationships the girls tend to talk more, while the boyfriends usually listen. But every once in awhile, there are things that he wants to talk about, too. Another easy step to being a better girlfriend is learning to really listen. Really listening means letting him talk without interrupting him, or interjecting your own opinion on things. Most women talk because they just want someone to hear them. They don't always want advice, and sometimes they don't even need a response.

So try giving your boyfriend that same opportunity. You might be surprised by how many things he has to say.

3. Remember to thank him, even for the little things

Great boyfriends are certainly not easy to come by, and the best ones tend to go above and beyond your normal expectations. Although you remember to thank him for all of the major things, how often do you thank him for the small stuff? Of course we say thank you for the fancy dinners, the tickets to movies or concerts, and all the big date nights in between; but great boyfriends are the ones who do small things, like bringing you a slushie while you're at work or doing the dishes for you after it's been a long day. They aren't glamorous favors, but they probably meant the most to you because he did them without being asked. They're small things, but they make your life just a little bit easier. So remember to say thank you because I promise it will mean the most to him.

4. Encourage him to form and grow his other relationships

When you're happy in your relationship, it's easy to get caught up in it all. Without even realizing it, you start to spend all of your time together. Although it might seem to build your relationship at first, it will more than likely hurt your relationship in the end. Spending time with friends and family is a good thing. Our relationships often determine who we are and how we handle challenges in life. Having that close circle of friends you trust and value can only make both of you better people. So, an easy way to be a better girlfriend is to not only understand he has other people in his life but also encourage him to spend time with them. Instead of waiting for your boyfriend to hear from his friends, tell him to reach out to them first. Remind him that although you love getting his time and attention, you don't need to have all of it.

5. Don't just say I love you, remind him why you love him

Finally, one of the simplest ways to be a better girlfriend is to remind your boyfriend why you love him. After you've been dating for awhile, it's easy to say I love you. We say it without even thinking about it most of the time! So although we love hearing someone say I love you, it means even more when they remind you why. Say more then just the usual things, like because you're smart, funny, kind, and all of the other adjectives we tend to use. Try being more original. Say things like you love him because of specific things he does, like cooking you dinner. Remind him how much you love the way he sings along with the radio when he thinks you're not paying attention. One of the best feelings in life is realizing that someone loves you for the things you may not even love about yourself. So take the time to remind your boyfriend that you love him for truly being him. He's the best boyfriend you could ever ask for, and reminding him of that will make you a better girlfriend, too.

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It Took A While, But I Finally Understand That My Life Isn't Just About My Relationship

Long distance doesn't mean I have to only think about my boyfriend 24/7.

Recently I have had a bit of a realization. Throughout my one year relationship, my boyfriend and I have had to be apart for a couple weeks at a time, sometimes a couple of months due to vacations or internship opportunities. During those times, I had a really hard time dealing with the distance. I would be sad and constantly want to talk to him.

If we went a couple days without talking consistently, it would bother me the whole time. My mind was preoccupied and even when I would try to keep busy or hang out with some of my other friends, I would still want to talk about him and the distance a lot.

At this point, even I started to recognize that I was handling the distance poorly. But I didn’t know how else to deal with it; I missed him and because of the time difference or our schedules, talking to him to make myself feel better wasn’t possible. So, for the first couple times that we had to be apart, this is how I would handle it. I would be sad and miss him a lot and honestly be only semi-productive.

Then, something changed.

During this current winter break, my boyfriend and I were apart again due to both of our vacations overlapping. Thus, when I got back from mine, I did what any college kid does on break. I texted all my friends to see when they are free to hang out and started to make plans with all of them. I started reading a book I have been wanting to finish for a while and just spent time relaxing from what was a hectic semester. I even started watching the "Harry Potter" series for the hundredth time!

I found myself relatively busy, but also very happy because I was around people I loved and having a lot of fun. Of course, I still greatly missed my boyfriend and would rather him be here than thousands of miles away in a different time zone.

However, I have finally realized something that may seem fundamental, but took me a while to understand.

I have finally understood that my whole life isn’t just about my relationship.

There is so much more to me and my life then my partnership with my boyfriend.

I know it sounds like the most obvious thing that I have written because most people know this fact, but I think for a lot of people it’s more difficult to actually do. I have written about in previous articles that my parents have had a rough relationship. Thus, I think in the back of my mind I felt that if I didn’t put all my time and energy into my relationship, it may turn out unsuccessful.

However, now I have come to the understanding that a relationship, especially a long distance one needs to be formed with two people who have their own ambitions and goals and ways they find happiness on their own. I am not saying to be selfish but rather to maintain one’s independence and aspirations.

When you know you are going to be okay even if your partner is away, it allows you to be happy and live your best life. This feeling of being okay even if your partner is away can coexist with the feeling of still missing them and wanting them with you. This is one thing that I think took me the longest to fully understood.

I felt that if I was happy and doing my own thing, I was in a way making it seem that I didn’t genuinely miss my partner; which of course was not the case.

I am really proud that I have finally gotten to this place because I find that I am so much less stressed out and happier now that I have begun focusing more on myself. I know not everyone will be able to relate to the sentiment I have expressed in this article, but I hope that if you can relate, you can come to this realization one day too.

It's definitely not easy and takes time, but it can be done!

Cover Image Credit: @couplegoals

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