Mental Health

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

signs of an abusive relationship Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

There is not an obvious way to tell whether you are in an abusive relationship. An abused face is not the only sign of being under an abusive husband or wife’s control. Abusive control with other types of controlling conduct like coercive control is how abusive individuals gain and maintain dominance and authority over someone. The victim undergoes mental, physical, sexual, or financial abuse.

Let’s understand some of the critical signs of an abusive relationship

This blog post will be helpful for you if:

  • Your partner tries to impose his/her control over you.
  • Your partner threatens you or your family.
  • Your partner menaces to take away your belongings.
  • You feel scared or under the control of your partner.

 The objective of an abuser is to control by threatening the person in question. Often the abusers oppress the victims and make them think that they don’t deserve an equal voice in the relationship. (1)

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

Abusers usually control their victims with various types of strategies, including:

  • Creating confusion with sporadic uplifting or positive feedback (for example, acclaim, compliment, sweet talk, ingratiation, love bombing, gifts, exaggerated consideration);
  • Egocentric. Irregular or incomplete support;
  • Manipulation and mind games (belittle by talking down, negging, mixed messages, guilt-trips);
  • Dominant behavior (for example, financial control, pestering, silent treatment, dangers, coercion, negligence, forbid, control)
  • Aggressive behavior (for example, passive-aggressive language and behavior, terrorizing, threatening, hitting, yelling, swearing, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, or explosive anger). (2)
  • Here are some signs to look for:

Possessiveness – Precursor to Control


 Creating confusion between love and possessiveness is a common tactic for an abusive husband. This tactic sounds like: “I love you, that’s why I am getting possessive,” thus limiting your freedom and personal growth. Mistake abuse as love is called traumatic bonding.

  • They always check on you to see where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with.
  • They always keep a check on your phone to see who you text, call, and talk with.
  • They try to control you. They want control over where you go and who you meet.  They also get aggressive if you don’t do things their way.
  • They attempt to detach you from your loved ones, your profession, and your passion.
  • They want you to continually stay in touch, either by calling or texting, when you are away.

Humiliation- Constant Put-Downs

  • They belittle all the achievements you accomplished.
  • They continually compare you negatively with others.
  • They censure you each time you want to speak out of yourself.
  • They continuously make mean jokes and fun of you, especially in front of others.
  • They let you down rather than encouraging you when you need them.
  • They make you think you can’t live without them.
  • They will get you on every one of your weaknesses and even question your mental health.

Threats and Warnings

threats and warnings
  • They will intentionally break things that you love.
  • They tell you they might hurt you, your family, friends, or a pet.
  • They threaten to harm themselves if you leave. They say such things as, “if you leave me, I will commit suicide.”

Physical and Sexual Violence

physical and sexual violence
  • They push, slap, hit, kick, punch or grab you, force you to engage in sexual relations, or do things you do not feel comfortable with.
  • They use sarcasm and an unpleasant tone of voice.
  • They hit and hurt you, your pets, or your loved ones.

Most of the time, physical abuse can be recognized by frequent physical signs such as scratches, bruises, burns, bite marks, broken bones, and an abused face.

Seek Help to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship

seek help to get out of an abusive relationship

The signs, as mentioned above, are the signs of a toxic relationship. If you face any of these signs in your relationship, neither confuse them with love nor accept them. Seek help, call the domestic abuse helpline, and consult legal advice as soon as possible.

Recovery from abusive relationships with negative people, toxic people, or narcissistic sociopaths is a long and challenging process because you’re often struggling with low self-esteem and trapped in a situation of codependency.

Remember, a healthy relationship is where two individuals help each other grow and reach goals in their lives, not where an individual tries to take control over your life and doesn’t help you in your personal growth.

Infographic: Signs of an Abusive Relationship
Infographic: Signs of an Abusive Relationship

  1. When Love Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Abuse in Relationships. WomanKind Press; 2000. ISBN 978-0-9686016-0-0. p. 30.
  2. Braiker, Harriet B. (2004). Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation. ISBN 0-07-144672-9.

University of Rochester Medical : Recognizing Emotional Abuse 5 Signs You’re Experiencing Verbal Abuse

Psych 21 Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Psych Signs of Trauma Bonding in an Abusive Relationship

Simple How to Deal Effectively With Difficult People (and Some Other Secrets)

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