For the last few days, we’ve asked ourselves what we could do to stop targeted violence towards women and femicide. More resources, shelters, and therapy, we say.
If there is one thing that can be done, it’s leaving your partner the minute he shows signs of abusive and controlling behaviour. Leaving a possessive and potentially harmful man the minute you see hints of that side is more than simply standing up for yourself: It means you’re not allowing yourself to be his next victim.
It’s not love when he’s jealous. Sure, we can find it flattering, but no. When he wants to know why you’re coming home late after a night out with friends, when he’s going through your phone and texts, or when he insists on a GPS tracker, he’s not jealous — he’s controlling.
No, it’s not love when he criticizes your best friend and tells you she’s not a great influence — that you can do better. Or when he sulks because you’re having dinner wither her. Or when he tells you that your mother doesn’t like him and that he doesn’t want her over anymore.
No, it’s not love when he tells you to stop wearing those jeans or that you’ve gained weight and that he needs to watch what you eat and that you can only go to the gym with him.
No, it’s not love when he wants you to quit your job because he suspects that you’re dating your boss.
No, it’s not love when he tells you that you’re lucky to have him, because no one else wants you because your stupid and annoying and stupid.
No, it’s not love when he asks you for sexual favours that make you uncomfortable — that he keeps insisting on them without a care for how you feel, or he sulks when you say no.
The violent man, the abuser, doesn’t start a relationship with his fists. Little by little, he challenges your boundaries enough that they crumble. It’s insidious. You don’t even notice it, but it’s slowly winding around you, tightening its grip.
You’ll ask yourself questions. Your best friend will worry and she’ll tell you so. Your mother too. But it’s difficult to believe that you, an intelligent and strong woman, filled with ambitions, could fall for something — and someone — like this. Maybe you’ll tell yourself that you’ve only been dating a few months and that you’ll both settle down.
Poor him, you’ll say, he had such a tough childhood. You can help. He can change with your love. And that ex of his that called the cops? She was lying because she jealous.
Stop. Let your intuition guide you. Be realistic. You don’t need to live with him for years to find out. He is controlling, abusive and he will never change. Once that light goes on, once you feel it in your chest, once that sinking feeling sets in and fear overtakes you — when dread twists your stomach into knots — end it. These feelings aren’t love. Leave. Quit. Save yourself before children are involved. Before you buy a house for two. Before it’s too late. Before it gets worse. Before it feels like you can’t leave. Before your funeral.