Abusive relationships are insidious. You might not realize you're in one. Not at first. Abusers are usually very charming and they find ways to lower your defenses and get you to trust them. Once things go south though, it can be difficult to leave. Abusers often tie their victims to them emotionally and financially. The threat of physical violence is real in many cases. Leaving an abusive relationship requires people to confront their unhealthy coping mechanisms and to stop living in denial... no easy task.
After Redditor Nuppa_Nuppa07 asked the online community, "People who got out of an abusive relationship, what was your biggest 'That's not normal'?" survivors weighed in with their recollections.
Warning: Some sensitive content ahead.
"Being able to go..."
Being able to go to a friend's house and not being yelled at when I came home.
"Not having a 'curfew'..."
Not having a "curfew" strategically to stop you from seeing your friends. "Wait, WHAT I don't even have to think twice about going out for dinner? Wild."
"It was weird until I realized..."
When I was dating my husband, he never made fun of me or made jokes at my expense. It was weird until I realized it was normal for your partner to not degrade you and make you feel bad about yourself.
Once when we were visiting my home state, he told me I should go out with some friends since I won't be seeing them for awhile. I was honestly shocked. Like seriously? I'm allowed to go? You won't accuse me of cheating on you or trying to lose you? It was wild. I hadn't realized just how bad my past relationships really were.
This December my husband and I will be four years strong.
"Not having to explain..."
Not having to explain where you've been, why you took so long and no you aren't lying to conceal actually having been whoring around rather than at the grocery store.
Also being allowed to keep my own bank card and money.
"Took me a while..."
I was the one that came out of the abusive relationship. I remember at the beginning of the relationship with my current gf, something happened that bothered me but I kept it quiet. My gf noticed and asked me to express how I felt, to which I replied "It's ok. It doesn't matter how I feel." It was kind of an automatic response. I felt like I didn't want to make a "big deal" out of my feelings. That's when my gf said "That's not normal. Your feelings do matter." Which was... Shocking, honestly. Took me a while to get used to being able to express my feelings in a healthy environment.
"She would read messages..."
She would read messages I'd sent to other people, both on my computer and on my phone. I often found myself having to explain a certain statement or opinion at a moments notice about any conversation I'd had recently. I had zero expectation of privacy the entire time and was often shamed any time I tried to take some back.
"God, where to begin."
God, where to begin.
I escaped a nine year long abusive relationship six years ago.
I'm now happily engaged yet still have to remind myself that completely innocent day to day occurrences are ok.
Coughing or sneezing when in bed. This used to result in me being punched as punishment.
Being allowed to sleep in. If I tried to sleep in he'd pour water on me and then my side of the bed so I wouldn't be able to sleep.
Being able to accidentally drop something or spill a drink without being sworn at.
The emotional manipulation made me stay for so long. No one had any idea. I masked it so well.
Now I'm truly happy but get flashbacks daily.
"I had gotten out..."
I had gotten out of an abusive relationship.
New guy I was seeing was trying to have sex with me. I said no. He immediately stopped and instead got me a blanket and gave me water. We just continued watching TV together and I was wrapped up like a burrito.
I guess someone ignoring you when you say no is not normal.
"The one that really stands out..."
There were so many things about my first marriage that should have been red flags, but I didn't recognize as "not normal" until I got out and got some perspective. The one that really stands out is that it's not normal to be pressured for sex so consistently that you just give in and have sex you don't want or enjoy in order to be able to be left alone about it for a day or so.
"Eventually I realized..."
After a while with my current boyfriend I kept being surprised at how long we'd been together. Eventually I realised it was because I'd been expecting to get that walking-on-eggshells feeling by the 6-month to 1-year mark and it hadn't happened.
You only notice the not-normal part after the fact, sometimes a long time after the fact, especially if it's your normal. I only picked up on the fact that I'd been abused by my ex several years later after watching a youtube video on the subject and realising I had all the symptoms; my friends thought I already knew.
"I only found this out..."
I only found this out after I left but being held against a wall by my neck apparently wasn't. I thought it was a normal way to make your kids listen to you when you punished them but I was very wrong.
"It seems obvious..."
Realizing that normal relationships actually made you feel good about yourself. It seems obvious but like, I spent so long feeling like crap that I thought that was how it was supposed to be. When I met my now-husband, he treated me with decency and respect and I thought "No way. This is a joke." I still have a hard time fully trusting it sometimes because I keep feeling like there's gotta be a catch. Trauma, y'all.
"We both were in college..."
Was in a five year relationship and after it ended I found out that alot of other couples will split bills and such. We both were in college struggling to make ends meet and I paid for every dinner and every date we went on. That was a real wake up call for me.
"I'll never forget the look..."
I'll never forget the look on my wife's face when on the third date I casually mentioned my ex stabbed me twice.
"That's what trust is about..."
I had some questions about a conversation they had with someone else about me (needed all the facts of the scenario). They volenteered to let me read through their phone in case I didn't believe them.
That's what trust is about, you don't need to prove it to me after you gave me your word.
I think the weirdness was the insistance about trying to prove their truthfulness, like they were used to people not believing them or invading their privacy.
"My childhood comfort item..."
My childhood comfort item got broken during a time of great distress and he said, "You sound so annoying when you cry. I hate it so much."
"He did not get angry..."
Biggest was that I had a breakdown when declining sex with my partner (who is wonderful) for the first time. He did not get angry, or sulky. He reacted with cuddles and "that's okay" type of responses. I was completely shocked. Had not been able to safely reject sex before, and my brain had simply stopped considering that as an option.
"When I wasn't allowed..."
When I wasn't allowed to be friends with men. Especially those who were single. He told me, "It's ok that you're friends with Tom because he is my friend and he has a girlfriend" But I couldn't be friends with Ryan who is in the same class as me at college.
He was extremely jealous and possessive. His first wife cheated on him and thus he projected all his crap onto me. Wasn't allowed to work for fear of chatting up with men, wasn't allowed to study (after finding out I did a project with a male classmate). I stayed home because I was scared and didn't know any better (I was with him for 9 years starting when I was 19).
"There were several..."
There were several but I think the biggest was when the abuse started to cross over into torture. If he was particularly mad at me, he wouldn't allow me to go to sleep at night. He would turn on all the lights, pull all the sheets and pillows off the bed. Scream at me, shake me, just so I couldn't sleep.
"There was always drama..."
There was always drama to prevent me from making other friends or spending time with them. He never outright said he didn't want me to have friends but it was obvious. I couldn't visit home without him either or see old friends there.
I started college and suddenly was getting rides from him?! It made no sense since we both had cars. He just wanted to make sure I didn't stay and made friends.
One of the final big red flags.
Even those of us that are naive things get a little too obvious.
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