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5 Signs That You’re In An Abusive Relationship

“Black Johnny” — the Vietnam vet who used to sell bun-less hot dogs and green olives at halftime of Connie Hawkins Summer League basketball games — once t0ld me that some people “float to trouble like fried chicken crumbs to seat cushions.” Although I’m still not completely sure what Black Johnny meant — and I’m still not completely sure why we all called this high-yellow n*gga “Black Johnny.” I guess we were all just being really ironic — I can’t think of another person who better personifies this completely ridiculous and completely sensible home-spun saying than Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Marshall, a perennial all-pro and native Pittsburgher (We can definitely breed em. What exactly are we breeding? I have no f*cking clue), has 515 words on his Wiki page devoted to accounts of his various arrests and run-ins with the law, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised when hearing that he had been stabbed in the gut by his wife last weekend.

From CNN

The wife of Miami Dolphins star receiver Brandon Marshall has been charged with stabbing him in the abdomen with a kitchen knife during a domestic violence incident, according to a report from the Broward County, Florida, sheriff’s office.

Michi Nogami-Marshall, 26, was charged Friday evening with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, which allegedly occurred in their Southwest Ranches, Florida, home, according to the sheriff’s report.

The couple, who have no children, have been married one year and have been involved for 2 1/2 years, the sheriff’s report said.

Brandon Marshall, 27, told police that he “slipped and fell onto a broken glass vase,” the report said.

“However, the area of where the vase was broken indicated no blood within the immediate area to substantiate his claim,” the report said.

His wife then told police that she stabbed her husband “out of self-defense,” the report said.

“Both the victim and the defendant provided scant information regarding the incident itself,” the sheriff’s report said.

Now, I could be wrong, but after a quick scan of this article and Marshall’s Wiki page, my gut is telling me that Marshall and Nogami-Marshall are in a mutually abusive relationship.

Why definitely? Well, the numerous domestic disputes are a big giveaway. What really gets me, though, is the fact that she stabbed this n*gga in the stomach with a kitchen knife! You know where else they stab people in the stomach with non-lethal weapons? Prison. Basically, he got prison-shanked in his own house by his own wife.

But, not all abusive relationships give this type of conspicuous proof, and here’s 5 somewhat subtle signs that you just might be in one.

1. No one ever invites you anywhere as a couple

While the whole Rihanna/Chris Brown thing might be a regular and even mundane occurrence for you and your beau, no one wants to be the couple sitting in the same Cheesecake Factory booth of the couple who’s throwing ice cubes, pinky rings, and two-sided brushes at each other.

2. You’re not having sex

Look, I understand that couples occasionally go through droughts. I also understand that some of these droughts may be health related. But, if you’re two healthy people with a normal sexual appetite, a prolonged drought usually means one of two things:

A) Someone did some foul-ass sh*t, and the other is justifiably pissed

B) Someone did something that wasn’t really all that bad at all, and the other is an emotional terrorist withholding the coital ransom

Ok, forget about whether that “coital ransom” analogy made any sense (it didn’t). The main point is that whenever sex is intentionally withheld for a long period of time, it’s usually accompanied either by some type of mental, emotional, or physical abuse or someone found out that someone’s a Laker fan.

3. Your last relationship was abusive

For whatever reason, it seems like people who just got out of seriously abusive relationships need to be in relationships that are progressively less abusive, but still abusive, before they’re ready to be in one completely devoid of it. It’s almost as if they’re going from crack (Ike Turner) to methadone (Jim Brown) to cigarettes (Nas) to cupcakes (Peter the Apostle).

4. You’re always on eggshells

I’ve been here before, where I spent so much time living on “Wait, is the mention of this perfectly normal sexual act going to make her cry again?” and “If this Kool-Aid is too sweet, will she burn another one of my sneakers at dawn?” eggshells that I might as well changed my name to Salmonella. Don’t fret for me, though. Served me right for dating that damn Delta.

5. You find yourself being preemptively abusive

Truly abusive relationships sometimes end up morphing into a version of Stockholm Syndrome, where instead of turning into a martyr, you adapt to the conditions created by your emotional terrorist and you even start becoming exactly like them. You manipulate before you have the opportunity to be manipulated, kick before you have the chance to get kicked, disrespect in the sack before you have the chance to be disrespected.

Before you know it, you’ve become the Steven Seagal to their “lead smirking henchman in black,” and your entire life is one big clusterf*ck circle jerk of broken limbs, bed dred, police reports, and cold semen in your eye. 

Anyway, people of, did I forget anything? Can you think of any more signs that a person might be in an abusive relationship? Also, although men get the bulk of the abuser blame, do you think there’s any truth to the idea that women are frequently just as (if not more) abusive?

The carpet is yours.

—The Champ

If you haven’t purchased the paperback or the $9.99 Kindle version of “Your Degrees Wont Keep You Warm at Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime” yet, what the hell is stopping you? (No, seriously. Tell us and we’ll send Liz to fix it)

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Liz

    Hmm. I feel like abusive relationshippers still have sex tho. I feel like usually that’s the main thing keeping them together (ie what defines them being together). I dunno for sure tho…

    If someone doesn’t respect your freedom (to have your own space, make your own decisions) then you are probably in an abusive relationship.

  • As someone who has been in 1 abusive relationship, and got out of another right before some abuse was about to go down I do see a similar attribute and that is a man with no true friends, or at least with no close buddies has a huge potential to be an abuser with a red flag growing out of his scalp instead of hair.
    (I reread this and this is the most run-oningest sentence ever)

  • TheRealestLeo

    I’m still wondering why Brandon felt the need to lie about what happened….Fell on a broken vase? Really, dude? Maybe there’s more to the story than what’s been released. She’s saying she did it in self-defense….he’s acting like it was all a freak accident.

  • 1. When they talk to you like ish and are nice to you all in the same sentence. On a serious tip, and not just joking.

    I mean one minute they’re talking to you all regular, then they snap and talk about how horrible you are at something, then act as if they said nothing.

    2. If you don’t hear from one or more of the parties much. And when you do, they’re either mum on talking about the relationship, or they’re declining to hang out because of some undisclosed reason.

    3. The looks they give each other in public/private. You can just tell.

    4. General bad feeling of evil juju surrounding the couple when they’re together. You can feel the ill intent.

    These signs may or may not be obvious, but they were things that I saw when around these “couples”.

  • “…some people “float to trouble like fried chicken crumbs to seat cushions.””

    MAN, that is a poignant arse statement. Fried chicken crumbs STAY invading seat cushions, which is why I believe someone is out to get Black folks. Conspiracy!

    “Also, although men get the bulk of the abuser blame, do you think there’s any truth to the idea that women are frequently just as (if not more) abusive?”

    Sure women can be just as abusive. What makes it worse is when women take advantage of the societal pardon (in regards to abusing in general) they’re given…

  • Women are statistically more violent than men in relationships, however men are more likely to inflict serious injuries. I get the statistics when I post again in the morning. Another sign that someone is in an abusive relationship is how and how often they communicate with people. People in abusive relationship more-often-than-not reel back from everything else in the world and begin to sever relationships with those who they previously close to.

  • Caballeroso

    “Can you think of any more signs that a person might be in an abusive relationship?”

    I imagine that someone in an abusive relationship would find herself constantly making excuses:

    Excuses for why she fell once again and hit her head on the corner of the coffee table ending up with a black eye (or once again fell down the stairs, etc..),

    Excuses for why once again she’s having to cancel plans at the last minute,

    Excuses for why he means well, he just can’t control his emotions sometimes,

    Excuses for why he really is a good person if you only knew him like she knows him, or

    Excuses for why she can handle it and if he takes it out on her, he won’t take it out on the children/others.

  • TheQueenWithTheNappyHair

    5. is so so true. Even in non-romantic abusive relationships I think this holds true. I’ve definitely had a friendship that had to end because I noticed I was getting more and more passive aggressive and sabotaging in response to the other person’s emotional abuse, when I’d never been that way before. You definitely can start to be abusive just to keep from being the one always hurt.

  • I think I’ma just sit the bleachers for this one. *looks for a new snack besides popcorn*

  • Caballeroso

    Can you think of any more signs that a person might be in an abusive relationship?

    When he lifts his hand to get the waiter’s attention and she ducks.

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