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is your sexual past used against you: young person sitting on a bed with a book looking sad; another person with glasses sits on the floor at the foot of the bed

Is Your Partner Using Your Sexual History Against You?

By Nicole H., a loveisrespect advocate

If you’re reading this post, you might be feeling like you have to change or be someone you’re not with your current partner because of things that happened in your past. Maybe you’ve had a number of partners before, or maybe you’ve experienced some kind of sexual trauma, and your current partner is using those experiences to control, blame or shame you. This can be incredibly painful; after all, why would someone who is supposed to love you make you feel so bad? It’s important to understand that if you are struggling in this way, you are not alone. You cannot change the past. You deserve someone who is willing to understand, respect and care for you, no matter what happened before.

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Am I Abusive Too? The Myth of Mutual Abuse

This post was contributed by Jessica, a loveisrespect advocate

“What you said made me act that way.”
“You hit/shoved/pushed me, too.”
“You started this.”
“You’re abusing me, too.”

Has your partner ever said things like this to you? Here at loveisrespect, we talk with a lot of people who are able to recognize that their relationship is unhealthy or even abusive, but they also believe that the abuse exists on both ends, or that both partners are at fault for the abuse.

Many times, we speak with survivors of abuse who want to address concerns they have about their own behaviors. They will often express that their relationship is mutually abusive, a concept used when describing a relationship where both partners are abusive towards one another. But the thing about “mutual abuse” is that it doesn’t exist. Abuse is about an imbalance of power and control. In an unhealthy or abusive relationship, there may be unhealthy behaviors from both/all partners, but in an abusive relationship one person tends to have more control than the other.

So, why doesn’t mutual abuse exist?

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Recognizing the Signs

Today’s post was written by Anitra, one of our peer advocates. She has bravely chosen to share her personal experience with the hope that it will help others recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. 

Abusive relationships are tough situations that can happen to anyone. Relationships that seem healthy and positive can quickly take a turn for the worse and before you know it, you could be in over your head. This is something that happened to me.

A few years ago, I was in a relationship that started off really positive. We met through friends at a birthday dinner, and he seemed nice. In the beginning, he was fun and seemed to want to get to know me. I thought the relationship had a lot of promise.

Soon after the relationship began, he started to criticize me on my appearance and the way I dressed. He would say that “real girlfriends” should dress and look a certain way, and the way I looked wasn’t good enough.  I tried not to let it bother me and to let his comments go. I also tried to make it clear that he would have to accept me for who I was. I didn’t realize he was already showing signs of controlling behavior.

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Have You Been Abusive?

Have you taken the Am I a Good Partner? quiz or read What is Abuse? and realized that the way you treat your partner is considered abusive? Recognizing that your behaviors are unhealthy and need to change is the first step toward building a healthy relationship, so congratulations on starting your journey. Moving forward, it is crucial that you accept responsibility for your actions and under no circumstances deny or minimize what you have done, or blame your partner for the abuse.

It can be overwhelming to apply the word abusive to yourself, but don’t panic. The first question to ask yourself now is can I stop being abusive? And as long as you want to and are willing to seek professional help, change is possible. Violence is always a choice and it’s one you can choose to never make again. There are many things you can do to change your behavior, starting with understanding what makes a relationship healthy.

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No More Sitting There, Silent, While I Listen to You Cry as He Yells at You Over the Phone

It can be hard to see a friend experience an abusive relationship. Today our guest blogger, Julia Dieperink from American University, shares her thoughts towards a friend going through a bad relationship.

My mother always told me that your real friends are the ones that tell you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it, even if you got mad at them.

It was something that stuck with me.

So why haven’t I told you that I never like it when he calls you? Sometimes everything is fine and the two of you just talked and that is that. But most of the time you end up crying, because he yells at you. He yells at you about things that you did, things that you didn’t do and things that happened while you were on the other side of the country. He says he is just venting and that he’s not yelling at you, he’s just yelling about things.

“No of course I’m not upset,” you mutter to him when he finally pauses long enough to let you get a word in edgewise and he hears your tone.

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No More Feeling Unsafe at Parties

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“Well, what was she wearing?” “Yea, but was she drinking?” These are the unfortunate and unfair questions that often are asked after a sexual assault. Today’s “No More” post comes courtesy of an anonymous but honest student who wants college parties to be safer for everyone.

We’ve all been there: covering our drinks with cocktail napkins so someone can’t slip a roofie in it, drinking the “punch” out of the cooler which is made with some crazy-strong grain alcohol so we can’t tell how much we’ve had to drink until it’s too much, carrying your drink with you to the bathroom. My roommate does that. She is that (understandably) nervous about someone doing something to her drink.

Then there’s after the party: do you risk walking home with a group of friends, afraid of the boogey man in the night?  Or crashing after the party on the sketchy host’s sofa?  Or catching a ride from someone you’ve just met who seems nice enough but you really have no way of knowing?

These are all decisions I’ve faced in the past and will continue to face as long as I want to socialize yet drink responsibly.

On college campuses, sexual assault and violence are way too prevalent.  And the drinking environment at parties adds fuel to the fire. While drinking is no excuse for sexual assault, alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions, and things happen at parties that wouldn’t happen in the sober light of day.

I wish we could be more open about what goes on at parties.  I wish we had a culture where people acknowledged the drinking, so that we could take preventative measures to help keep people safer.  I wish that people wouldn’t blame themselves, even if they had been drinking underage. I wish that the victim of an assault wouldn’t get blamed by others, no matter what she had been doing or drinking earlier that evening or before.

This requires a bit of a cultural shift.  While it is important to take precautions, like going with friends and knowing your limits, unheeded precautions should not result in victim-blaming.  And if you lose your friends or over-imbibe, no matter what happens to you, it is not your fault.  The police should be more responsive, and ideally the culture of partying would evolve into one where fun did not require booze.  But until it does, we’ll all do what we can to feel safer, but remember it is still never our fault.

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Is Cheating Abuse?

At loveisrespect we get asked this question all the time. Having a partner cheat on you can be a gut-wrenching, extremely difficult experience, but only you know if it’s abuse.

It all depends on context.

If your partner cheated on you and you are wondering if it’s an abusive act, ask yourself these questions:

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