In Depression, Health Professionals

Signs of an Abusive Relationship, Can you Tell Them?

signs of an abusive relationship

You are in love and at times very happy, but then there are times when love hurts. Maybe your partner says something or does something that hurts your feelings or upsets you – and it seems to be intentional. Or maybe they control you or say things to make you feel bad about yourself. Maybe things just don’t seem ‘right.’ Discover the most important Signs of an Abusive Relationship!

Is it all in your head?

The signs of an abusive relationship are rarely clear cut. A partner who physically abuses you can convince you that it is your fault. But at least there are the physical effects of the abuse. Emotional abuse is even more difficult to determine. In many emotional abuse situations, the abuser convinces the victim that they are crazy or imagining it all. They say it is all in your head.

Abuse in any form leaves scars. Even while bones mend and wounds heal, the emotional scars run much deeper and last a lot longer.

Abuse is very, very real and there is a lot of confusion that plagues the person who is experiencing it. However, if you learn one thing here, learn this. The person who hurts you, physically, emotionally or any other way is making a choice to hurt you. No matter what you say or what you do, they make a choice to respond in a hurtful way. And just as they make a choice to hurt, they can make a choice to not hurt, to respond with love, to walk away.

Abusive Relationship Signs

The signs of abusive relationship are rarely clearly visible. There are some warning signs, though, that can raise some red flags. This can help you identify an abusive relationship or a potentially abusive one.

You Feel Afraid

  • You are afraid to tell your partner about everyday occurrences like the bus was late, you had to work late or your car had a flat tire because you never know who he or she will react.
  • You will go out of your way, do whatever it takes, to please your partner. You will do whatever you can, even to the point of sacrificing your health, so that you don’t ‘set him or her off.’
  • If your partner wants sex from you, are you afraid to say no because he or she will hurt you or force you.
  • You never know what mood your partner will be in or what will trigger an outburst.
  • Your partner has hit you or threatened to hit you, harm you or disfigure you.
  • You find yourself staying up all night to avoid sleeping next to your partner because you are afraid of what they will do to you while you are sleeping.
  • When your partner becomes angry you become afraid.
  • Your partner has pushed you, restrained you, intentionally tripped you or slapped you.
  • You don’t leave because your partner has threatened to hurt you or your children if you do.

You Feel Bad about Yourself

  • When something good happens to you or you achieve something and you try to talk to your partner about it, instead of celebrating it with you, he or she makes fun of it, mocks you or accuses you of doing something immoral or unethical to get it instead of acknowledging your hard work.
  • Your partner puts you down and says derogatory things to make you feel bad about yourself, causing you to avoid talking to them.
  • Your partner humiliates you in public or in social situations.
  • You are starting to view yourself as worthless or bad, the same way your partner views you and tells you that you are.
  • Your partner tells you that you are lucky to have him or her because no one else would ever want you.
  • Your partner is very critical of everything about you, the way you dress, your hair, how you act, your appearance, how you drive.
  • Your partner calls you names and when you get upset he or she accuses you of being too uptight, saying that you need to ‘lighten up.’
  • You are starting to feel like you deserve to be mistreated, to be talked down to, to be yelled at, controlled and put down. You have begun to believe that you deserve to be hit.
  • You have begun to believe that if you were a better person your partner would not feel so compelled to hurt you and say cruel things to you.

You Feel Helpless

  • You feel like you are trapped in the relationship, like you have nowhere you can go and no way to escape.
  • You feel like even if you did escape you could not survive without your partner.
  • Your partner forces or manipulates you into doing things that are illegal, immoral or harmful.
  • Your partner controls the money, food, phone, vehicle, everything. They check your phone for calls and texts, keep track of when your vehicle is moved and what the mileage is, there are certain foods you are not allowed to consume or you can only consume a certain amount and you are not allowed to have any money or you are given an extremely limited allotment.
  • If you try to fight back your partner turns it on you, blaming you of being abusive or telling you that if you behaved differently he or she wouldn’t have to hurt you or yell at you.
  • Your partner destroys things that are important to your or throws them away to intimidate you.
  • You feel like no matter what you do or how hard you try you will never be good enough.
  • Your partner accuses you of flirting with others or cheating and you feel that you cannot argue it.
  • Your partner has threatened self-harm if you try to leave.

You Feel Like you have Lost You

  • Your partner treats you like property, like you are an object to own instead of a person to love.
  • You are starting to believe you truly are crazy or that you are the one who has the problem.
  • You will agree to anything, say anything, and do anything in order to avoid confrontation with your partner.
  • You change who you are, walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner.
  • When someone talks about your partner, you find yourself stepping up to defend him or her. You make excuses and down play the mistreatment and abuse no matter what the situation.
  • You feel like a shell of a person. You don’t even recognize yourself any more.

You Feel Isolated

  • You pull away from your friends and family to avoid exposing them to your partner because you are afraid he or she will humiliate you or put you down in front of them.
  • You do whatever it takes to make yourself available to your partner – even to the point of shutting out friends and family.
  • Your partner will not allow you to attend school, get a job or have hobbies.
  • You don’t go to work functions like parties or picnics because your partner forbids it or humiliates you in public so you just avoid it.
  • You are completely isolated. Your partner has separated you from your family and friends, convincing you that they are the ones who abuse you and he is the one saving you from them.

How to get out of an Abusive Relationship

Getting out of an abusive relationship is not easy. It is emotionally taxing, scary and sometimes physically dangerous. But you deserve to live a life free from fear. You deserve to be with someone who will build you up instead of tear you down. If you have children, they deserve to see that abuse is not normal.

When you decide to get out, you need to make a plan. Write down important numbers like the police, friends, the domestic violence hotline (1−800−799−72331−800−799−72331−800−799−72331−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224) and your local battered women’s shelter. Find a safe place to keep them or you can write them on the bottom of your shoe. You should have these numbers even if you haven’t yet decided to leave. They are good to have.

Talk to someone you trust and tell them about the abuse. It is important that you create a strong support system so that you will have help in place when you leave. Talk to a neighbor you trust and ask them to call the police if they ever hear a disturbance or any noises that are suspicious coming from your home.

Ask someone you trust to check on you if they have not heard from you or seen you in a few days. Do this even if you think your partner would never escalate the abuse to such a level. In these situations you don’t know what he or she is capable of.

Identify four or five safe places you can escape to. This may be a family member’s home, a neighbor’s, the women’s shelter or a friend’s home. If you are a woman, stay with another female unless the person is a brother or father. If you move in with a man you are not related to your ex could use it against you in your custody case. It could also escalate your abuser’s behavior to a very dangerous level.

Put together a go bag with some vital things in it. Keep the bag in a safe place or at a friend’s house. Include these things in your bag or keep them on your person:

  • Identification for you and your children
  • Birth certificates for you and your children
  • Social security cards for you and your children
  • Spare set of keys to the house and car
  • Medication
  • Money, credit cards
  • Banking account information
  • Address book
  • Change of clothing
  • Important papers (divorce, custody, restraining order, etc.)
  • Driver’s license
  • Car registration
  • Rental agreement or lease
  • Passports, work permits, green card
  • Welfare ID
  • School records
  • Medical records

It is important that you get away from an abusive situation, but you need to do it in a safe way. Plan your escape well and let friends help you. Once you are out, allow someone to be with you all the time. Many people return to their abusive partners because they are lonely or feel that if they leave their partner they will always be alone.

That is just want the abusive partner wants you to believe. But it is a lie. There is a wonderful life waiting for you, one where you can live without fear, live without pain and learn to love yourself. You deserve to be free.

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