By Megan Schalk
October is domestic violence awareness month, and nearly 20 people are subject to intimate partner violence (IPV) each minute. IPV can happen to anyone in any relationship. It is imperative to remember that just because they don’t hit you doesn’t mean it isn’t abuse. Abuse and IPV come in many shapes, including sexual, physical, financial, and emotional abuse. Recognizing the signs and cycle of abuse is the first step to freeing yourself from it.
Domestic violence, or IPV, is an imbalance of power and control in the relationship. In some instances, the abuse is present from the beginning of the relationship. Other times, the relationship begins like any other, or perhaps better than other relationships you have had. Your partner may:
- Express intense love and affection early on
- Shower you with excessive and overwhelming compliments.
- Expensive gift giving
- Painting you as their savior/ soulmate
- Keeping constant communication (excessive clinginess)
- They don’t take responsibility for their past relationships.
- Referring to their Exes as “crazy”.
- Pushing or breaking your boundaries
- Immense possessiveness or jealousy
This is called Love Bombing. The abuser wants to make you feel that they are the best partner you have ever had. They will do and say all the right things to make you fall in love with them. However, love bombing is NOT love. Love bombing is often used by abusers to lull their victims into a sense of security and lowered inhibitions so they can get what they want.
The cycle of love bombing can look something like this:
Now that you know what love bombing looks like, what can be done about it? In any relationship, communication is necessary to form a solid and healthy partnership. Communicating your relationship expectations and setting clear boundaries with your potential partner is essential.
Setting boundaries can sound like:
“That is a sweet gesture. But I think it is too soon for me.”
“I can only hang out once or twice a week.”
“I need some time to work on my career/ school.”
Setting an expectation can sound like:
“I want to date someone who supports my passions and is committed and consistent.”
Pay attention to your partners’ reactions to setting boundaries and expressing expectations. If they continue to push their needs ahead of yours, that is a sign that they do not honestly care about your comfort.
If you notice the signs of love bombing, it can be challenging to leave the relationship. You may feel guilty leaving them, mainly if they have manipulated you to believe they cannot be without you. However, leaving an abusive relationship can significantly improve your mental health. It is critical to lean on your support networks and reach out to them for assistance, especially if you feel you are in physical danger.
For further information and support for domestic violence, call or visit the Domestic Violence Hotline.
1-800-799-SAFE or https://www.thehotline.org/