Take it from me, it happens easier than you might think.

 I was in a relationship. A first-kiss-childhood-sweetheart kind of relationship and we’d known each other for over 10 years.

I thought I knew everything about him, even the bad stuff like his weird, slightly pervy ways. I could accept them… I mean, that’s the compromise bit – isn’t it?

Turns out that while I could accept his imperfections, I definitely didn’t know everything about him.

How could you know someone for so long yet know so little about them? How could you live with someone whilst they had a secret relationship behind your back? How could you fight an illness in secret with someone, for them to tell their ‘second girlfriend’ everything?

 I could go on, but I won’t. God, compared to some, I got off easy.

If there is one-thing hindsight has taught me, it’s that certain behaviours and tendencies should have given me monumental red flags.

 I’m not even talking about the cheating, I’m talking about the control and manipulation that turned me into a completely different person – someone I cannot believe I became.

 If there’s one thing I want to take from my experiences, it’s to be able to stop it happening to someone else.

 So please, please, read these signs and remember them. Control is abuse and it is dangerous.

1. They’re Isolating You

Control freaks can’t properly get their claws into you if you’ve still got level-headed people around you that tell you that you deserve more. So they try and remove those influences.

My bezzie is my world and, guess what? He didn’t like that. With her around, it was easier to see his all of his flaws so, slowly, he tried to turn me against her. He couldn’t control her so she needed to be eliminated from my life. 

2. Taking Away Your Passions

Control freaks are hugely insecure people. They hate the thought of you having ideas or passions that don’t involve them.

I had been vegetarian for 2 years before we got together and, shock, he didn’t like it. So, he basically bullied me out of it. He never did anything extreme but showered me with constant manipulative comments that made me feel bad about myself. He’d tell me what a nuisance I was, how vegetarians are ‘weird’ and how I was just attention-seeking.

Now I can look back and see that I wasn’t weird (soz for loving animals more than you) but at the time, he made me question my own judgement.

3. Not Being Allowed a Passcode on Your Phone

This is when the controlling behaviour started to get scary.

Wanting to be totally open with someone is one thing but forcing your girlfriend into regular phone checks is quite another, especially when he had one rule for him and another for me.

 That’s right - it was totally fine for him to have a passcode and god forbid if I ever questioned that. Once, I was accused of cheating with the Domino’s delivery driver after he found a call on my phone. He didn’t speak to me for 2 days. 

4. Unhealthy Arguments

Bickering is a part of life but regular amateur-dramatics are not. Every few months he’d find something to blow up about and pack up his things.

 I’d be in tears and begging him to stay. This was prime control time – like a light bulb went off in his head the first time it happened and each time, they’d get worse. I was made to feel more useless, jealous, undesirable, crazy, and psychotic.

He threw me on the floor, screamed at how much he hated me and, of course, he convinced me it was my fault. That time I ‘slipped’ down the stairs was my fault too; I should never have been stood there. I shouldn’t have grabbed his phone and tried leaving the room then he never would have pushed me and caused me to hit my head on the foot stool. Being elbowed in the face was down to me grabbing his keys. My fault. It was always my fault.

 Violence is never your fault. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

5. Using Your Past Against You

 Having known each other for years, he knew about my previous long-term relationship. Men like him are so jealous and paranoid that they can never accept that you loved someone before them.

He made my life hell for it and made me feel as if I deserved his insult and disgust. It had been a difficult past relationship (I’m not the luckiest) and he wanted to continuously punish me for it. 

“ On my own sister's hen party he had to ‘teach me a lesson’ by spending the day with a girl who despised me. ”

6. Taking Away Your Social Life

This point is closely linked with isolating you. The smaller they can make your social circle, the more time they become the centre of your world and the more control they can gain.

He’d cause arguments on nights out to make us leave early and he made it very clear I shouldn’t go out without him. Even holidays without him were naturally a no-go. On my own sister’s hen party he had to ‘teach me a lesson’ by spending the day with a girl who despised me.

7. Influencing Your Opinion

As a final level of control, they even want the power of your thoughts so that you agree with everything they say and become their puppet.

He convinced me that I was stupid and that he knew best about everything. He told me my opinions were over-dramatic, self-obsessed and selfish. He’d argue with me until I agreed with him. I was never that person.

The signs can go on and on, and recognising them as soon as possible is key.  Take a second to look in the mirror & ask yourself “am I really happy?”

 Because it might not just be your happiness that depends on it, but your life.

 Life is for living and, let’s be honest, Prince Charming never gave Cinderella anxiety. 

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Written by Becky Lee, 9 months ago