Over the past few months friends and relatives in my life have discussed their concerns and fears about their adult child being involved or considering living with/marrying an emotionally abusive, dysfunctional person.

These concerns are very real. They involve an insecure, jealous, possessive, and controlling partner. In the beginning of a relationship, the partner appears to be very charming, loving, attentive, and caring. They may also be extremely attractive, athletic, or well known in the community. This partner will begin to seduce their significant other in a slow methodical and manipulative manner. They may pressure you or demand sex from you instead of feeling a sense of mutual love and understanding.

They may eventually hurt you by being verbally or emotionally abusive. Often times physical abuse can occur if they become angry or resentful that you have done something they consider unacceptable. This partner will eventually blame you for their behavior or actions. After the abuse, this partner may act extremely apologetic and even bring you flowers, candy, or a gift and state that this will never happen again. This type of behavior may be extremely confusing and uncomfortable. They may also threaten to hurt themselves or kill themselves if you leave them, which can make you even more fearful.

This partner may start this process by telling you what to wear and who you can hang out with, invading your privacy or boundaries by checking your emails or texts, and making decisions for you. This subtle process by the abusive partner may prevent you from contacting your closest friends or family members. This partner may try to keep you only to themselves, by wanting to dominate time alone with you without considering double dating, hanging out at family homes, etc.  Months may go by when friends or relatives won’t hear from you. This abusive partner may begin to poison your own personal relationships with people you love and care about.

Friends and family may have warned you about this abusive partner. You may have ignored these warning signs because you think you are so in love with this person. You may have found yourself making excuses for their inappropriate or bad behavior. This is also indicative of having a very unhealthy relationship.

In a heathy relationship, a partner would be someone who listens to you about your thoughts and opinions. A healthy partner would be respectful and would eventually admit if they were right or wrong about an argument or decision. A healthy partner would accept the responsibilities of their own actions and not blame everything on you. This type of person would be supportive of your goals and dreams and would be able to compromise and even negotiate with you. The love and intimacy would feel safe and comfortable with someone you love and who loves you.

What should you do if you want to break up, but you are afraid?

  • Emotionally Abusive relationshipsBefore you do anything, discuss with a parent, counselor, clergy, or teacher.
  • Locate the nearest shelter if necessary.
  • Break up in a public place
  • Always bring someone with you to grab any personal items or return keys, etc.
  • Keep your phone on and with you in case of an emergency.
  • Have a code word for emergencies that you previously shared with friends or family. (Ex. Saying “Tomato,” when you need help.)
  • Make sure someone knows where you will be
  • Vary your daily routine after the breakup so that person cannot easily find you
  • Don’t see this person ever again even if they tell you they have changed.

If you find yourself after reading this article, in a very dysfunctional relationship, then please contact the numbers or agencies we provide below. Also, a parent teen book entitled Help I’m Moving Out On My Own that your teen will be able to review throughout their adult life.