Valentine’s Day has passed, and there is still love in the air. But while you were spending a romantic evening with your sweetheart, a friend, family member, or the girl who sits next to you in Spanish class may be suffering from an abusive relationship.
Often times a man or woman may be involved in an abusive relationship and not even be aware of it. In a relationship, a partners’ jealousy is often mistaken for intense love or being overprotective. But the reality is, extreme jealousy is one of the main warning signs of an abusive partner.
According to Pamela Freeman, Coordinator for Temple University’s S.A.C.E. (Sexual Assault Counseling and Education) Program there are a number of warning signs that indicate relationship abuse.
Some signs of relationship abuse included, “Instances when one partner prohibits the other partner from seeing family and friends, physical harm of any kind, pressure to do things that are degrading, becoming verbally abusive under the influence of alcohol, accusing their partner of infidelity, going to extreme measures to win an argument; or blaming his or her partner for their own failures,” Freeman said.
Many of these warning signs reflect the former relationship of Temple junior Matthew Johnson. Johnson was a victim of very intense emotional abuse from a former girlfriend.
“When we started dating everything was great, until she revealed to me a very serious situation that was taking place in her home,” Johnson says.
Johnson’s girlfriend was herself a victim of sexual abuse from a family member. After his girlfriend revealed her situation, the relationship took a turn toward verbal and emotional abuse.
“After she revealed that [abuse] to me our relationship went down hill. I wanted to help her with her situation but she swore me to secrecy,” Johnson said. “Then she would call me and tell me that I was a looser and no good because I would not help her.
“She would also embarrass me in public places when she drank. She would call me a failure, and would say that if I really loved her I would help her with her family situation.”
Johnson says that she would apologize after each incident, or threaten to commit suicide if he left her. One day after receiving a disturbing phone call from his girlfriend, Johnson tried to take his own life to escape the pressures of the relationship.
“I really loved her and I felt like I was letting her down by not helping with her problems. I felt so low that I tried to overdose on sleeping pills,” Johnson admits.
Johnson survived the ordeal and has since ended the relationship. One of the decisions Johnson seriously regrets is not seeking outside help.
“If I told someone I knew or tried to seek some type of counseling it would have provided me with more options besides suicide,” Johnson said.
Although Johnson decided not to seek outside help, there are an abundance of resources for those who decide to seek assistance for troublesome relationships. Freeman suggests that seeking help from friends and family is a wise choice. However, if an abused person cannot seek help from a family member they can seek assistance from S.A.C.E., a task force that helps Temple students deal with sexual and domestic violence. This program educates students and offers counseling to victims of sexual, domestic, and verbal abuse. S.A.C.E. is located in Tuttleman Counseling Services on the lower level of Sullivan Hall.
If the victim is not a Temple University student there are an abundance of hotlines, web sites, and books available to assist in prevention and recovery as well. Some hotlines that are available include the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799- SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD]), or Rape Abuse Incest National Network (1-800-656-HOPE).
Johnson says he is beginning to find closure to this relationship and he has learned one valuable lesson, ” Another person’s problems are not your fault. Therefore, there is no reason to accept abusive treatment from anyone, no matter how much you may love that person.”