It’s very easy to step back and say “I should have known this would happen. I should have seen the signs.” And… if, by some chance, we miss saying it to ourselves, there will always be someone there to say it for us. “Didn’t you know? Didn’t you see the signs?”
Hindsight is always perfect vision. It’s easy to look back and say “I should have known! How did I miss those warnings?”
When I started dating my ex-husband, there were multiple red flags. Looking back, I can see them, but at the time I wasn’t educated enough to recognize them. My best friend frequently tells me “You do what you know and when you know better, you do better.”
I met my ex on a blind date. We had a great first date. We met for coffee and a movie. He kissed me goodnight and I went home. A few days later, we had a second date at my home… Foolish, I know, but he was a friend of a friend and we drew a blank on what else we could do. We started making out, kissing, on the couch while watching a movie. The next thing I knew, we had intercourse. There was no discussion, no protection, it just happened. I was stunned, I tried to pull away, but I found I couldn’t say anything. I froze. Remember, in one of my other posts I said I wasn’t able to speak to his assumptions? That was the first assumption made that I let slip past.
I was mortified because I had promised myself I would take a different path in my next relationship. At the same time, I figured there would be no point in stopping now that the deed was done, and since I didn’t say no, it must have been consentual. Later, after we married, he often said he probably wouldn’t have stayed with me if we hadn’t slept together.
The relationship progressed very quickly… It was a bit of a whirlwind for me. He spent every spare minute with me, most often at my place since I lived close to his work. He started spending the night so often it simply made sense that he move in. He called me regularly at my office, at my sisters when I was on holiday. He brought me lunch whenever he could. I didn’t realize it then, but I never had a quiet moment to review the relationship, I could never take a step back to see what was in front of me.
It was stifling. It was cloying. I couldn’t see past it, even though I felt something was off, I could never put my finger on it.
The biggest sign I missed was that he never took responsibility for himself. Losing a job was because of a bad boss who was out to get him. He washed a load of whites that came out pink… turned out one of my red socks had made it into his load. He blamed me…. I was so used to taking the blame that I remembered the incident as I had washed his load. Our other roommate recently told me that he was the one who did the load and it was solely his fault, not mine.
Those are only four of the warning signs he showed before we got married. There are others, but I was blinded to all of them. I should have seen…. Except that he never left me alone long enough to take a good, honest look at the relationship.
1. Moving too quickly in the relationship, expecting you to spend all your time with them. Never leaving you alone. Calling you often when you are apart.
2. Expecting intimacy too early in the relationship. Not asking permission to engage in sexual intimacy.
3. Not taking personal responsibility for past or present actions. Blaming others for negative consequences in their life. Twists the truth.
4. Not respecting, or acknowledging your boundaries, no matter how inane or “unreasonable” they may view them.
I can say I should have known, but the reality is I didn’t know enough to know. I was not educated enough on the warning signs of domestic violence. Neither were my friends and family. They questioned some things, but it’s easy to dismiss individual things. It’s harder to dismiss the big picture; it’s also harder to see the big picture…. Remember the forest and the trees?
The lesson? It’s important to educate ourselves and our children on the warning signs of abuse/domestic violence. We must know what to look for so we can protect ourselves. Just as silence defeats abuse, so is knowledge power. Change is possible!