First of all, if you know you're in an abusive situation and you may be in danger. Stop reading and call the East Texas Crisis Center's 24 Hour Hotline: 903-595-5591.

Research shows that domestic violence increased fairly dramatically last year during the time of Covid-19. It's heartbreaking to consider that so many, probably people you know, found themselves homebound in a situation that was not necessarily a safe one.

At the very least, there a good chance someone you know and care about was forced to quarantine in a toxic situation. Maybe it was you. If so, sending you love right now.

And yes, more women than men find themselves in these situations. BUT, men are in abusive relationships, too. And they may be even less likely to get help. Please reach out.

Lucas Ludwig, Unsplash

Even as things continue to "normalize" in East Texas, you may have discovered some dark truth about your relationship with a loved one. If so, please know you are not alone. You are not trapped. And you are not crazy. 

There is help for you right here in East Texas.

How do you know if the situation you're in is merely unpleasant and extra-challenging right now versus abusive in nature?

Here are some of the most common red flags, courtesy of the East Texas Crisis Center

Get our free mobile app

'Destructive Criticism/Verbal Abuse

Name-calling; mocking; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures.

Pressure Tactics

Rushing you to make decisions by “guilt-tripping” and other forms of intimidation; sulking; threatening to withhold money; manipulating children; telling you what to do.

Abusing Authority

Always claiming to be right (insisting statements are “the truth”); telling you what to do; making decisions; using “logic.”

Disrespect

Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting your words; putting you down in front of other people; saying bad things about your friends or family.

Abusing Trust

Lying; withholding information; cheating on you; being overly jealous.

Breaking Promises

Not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with child care or housework.

Emotional Withholding

Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights or opinions.

Minimizing, Denying & Blaming

Making light of behavior and not taking it seriously; saying the abuse didn’t happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying you caused it.

Economic Control

Interfering with your work or not letting you work; refusing to give you or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; threatening to report you to welfare or other social-service agencies.

Self-Destructive Behavior

Abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm; deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off the boss.)

Isolation

Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go.

Harassment

Making uninvited visits or calls; following you; checking up on you; embarrassing you in public; refusing to leave when asked.

Intimidation

Making angry or threatening gestures; use of physical size to intimidate; standing in doorway during arguments; out-shouting you; driving recklessly.

Destruction

Destroying your possessions (e.g., furniture); punching walls, throwing and/or breaking things.

Threats

Making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you or others.

Sexual Violence

Degrading treatment based on your sex or sexual orientation; using force or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts.

Physical Violence

Being violent to you, your children, household pets or others; slapping, punching, grabbing, kicking, choking; pushing; biting; burning; stabbing; shooting, etc.

Weapons

Use of weapons; keeping weapons around which frighten you; threatening or attempting to kill you or those you love.'

(Source: East Texas Crisis Center website)

Please know you do not have to live this way. I understand how hard it can be to break that bond that was formed with another person, no matter how toxic it can be. But you deserve better. Your life doesn't have to be this way.

Please stay safe. For you, for your children. That number again is 903-595-5591.

The East Texas Crisis Center is dedicated to helping you right now. If you know someone who needs this info, please share.

The Killers Behind These 5 Texas Cold Cases Still Roam Free

HELP: These 28 Teen Girls Went Missing In June In Texas

Take a moment and look. Do you recognize any of them? Do you recognize their last names? Maybe they're a family friend, or the best friend of your daughter, or the daughter of a member of your church small group. They matter.

24 Ways for Tyler Teenagers to Make Money

There are lots of employers who won't hire teens as young as 15, but many others that do. Here is a list of ways for teens in Tyler to make money.