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How to know if I am being abused?

Updated on February 20, 2011

If you have made it to this page, you obviously have concerns about being abused, and may be wondering if you fit in to the category of the millions who suffer abuse daily. You might be in a new relationship and see some of the signs your friends or loved ones have either talked about or have had happen to them. Possibly someone you know has seen some signs and passed this article on to you. Whatever the reason you’re here, Welcome.

Please understand that abuse happens over time, it is the rare abuser that starts off hitting right away.  What happens is a process that allows you to fall in love with the abuser, then the degradation begins slowly, most abused will not realize they are being abused.  Sometimes it takes outsiders to see this happening.  Do not dismiss their concern for you lightly.

Most men won’t admit to being abused but it is quite common, it becomes more of a mental abuse with men, although there are women who hit. This will happen once they realize you won’t hit back and it will come more frequently. Family members will notice this more quickly than the abused, and may voice complaints. Abuse should not be tolerated by anyone, man or woman.

First let me state that ALL abusers want control. They want to control you and the immediate world around them. Next, let me state that not all abuse is physical, most abuse has a mental effects, but there are some ‘mental’ abusers who don’t hit. Lastly, you do NOT have to put up with being abused at any time. You don’t deserve being abused, no matter what he says you did, or what you may feel you have done.

For the purpose of this article we will use “He or Him” as our abuser, if you are the male being abused by a woman, just insert “She or Her” in those places.

1st sign - your loss of control

1.) One of the first signs of the beginnings of abuse is the loss of your control. Let me explain. Have you had discussions with him regarding your appearance? Such as maybe he doesn’t like the way you wear your make-up or has made suggestions regarding your hair?

A controller/abuser starts off right away making suggestions about these things. They may tell you that you don’t need to wear make-up because you are beautiful just the way you are. This may be true, I’m certain that you are beautiful. That is not the issue, the reason you wear make-up is to enhance the way you feel about yourself. It makes you feel good to wear it, so you do. He asks you not to wear it, and you want to make him happy, so you don’t. This is the first step in him gaining control over you. Many will not want to admit that they have done this, it makes them feel guilty about the handing over the reins. STOP! How could you possibly know what he would do with that control?

He says he wants you to change you hair, if you are acceptable to this you will do it. Why does he want you to change yourself? There are 2 possible answers to this. The first being that he wants to see how much he can control you, the second (and this is more likely) that he doesn’t want you to appeal to anyone else. If he found you attractive the way you were, he assumes all others will feel this way.

2. You start changing to suit him

2.) Has he asked you to change your clothing? This would be the second step in gaining control. He wants you to start wearing clothes that he feels appropriate, he may tell you that you are so beautiful that he doesn’t want anyone else looking at his property. Did you catch that word? ‘Property’. That right there is your key word. How he is telling you that you are no longer a person, but his property. Property is something you own and no one person should ever be owned. It might seem fun at first, this person saying they feel this way about you. But after a while, it will get old, that is a promise.

3. friends and family dispatched from your life

3.) Your friends will become an issue. You may tell your loved one that one of your friends may have said something bad about him. You are just trying to be honest, telling him everything, keeping no secrets from him. He may not say anything right away, or he may be vocal about their complaints. Whatever the case, he will feel the need to segregate you from them. This may be done on the sly, you will not even be aware of what he is doing. If you are the jealous type (and he will know this) he will tell you that your friend has begun flirting with him in your absence. Or worse yet, he will flirt with your friend. When you confront him about it he will excuse this away as harmless flirting. But what he is doing is distancing you from your friends. You may wonder how your friends could do this to you, if you are the jealous type you will get angry at your friends and stop seeing them.

Your family may come next. If you are close with certain family members, he will feel the need to keep you from them. They may have expressed a bad opinion of him to you, and in your innocence, told him of this. To cause you to back away from them he may cause arguments to happen between you and them. If this doesn’t work, he may move you far away from your loved ones. This will have you totally isolated from your friends and family.

4. controlling your money

4.) The next step is controlling your money. He may not want you to work, with the reasoning that no woman of his will ever work, or you need to stay home with the kids. Any excuse for him to keep you home bound. You will have no money and end up being totally dependent on him. This is what he wants. Your opinions on the subject will no longer matter, it’s what he wants.

If you had a car when you met, he will find a way to take this away from you. Either he will drive you where you want to go, or he will break it, or even going so far as to sell it. This will aid in keeping you isolated. If you do not have a job (which he has seen that you don't) he will justify that you don't need a car. He may tell you that he can't afford to keep your car, and since you aren't working, you too may feel that an extra vehicle is unnecessary.

5. Pity the abuser

5.) Pity - Yes, even an abuser can bring pity into the mix. They will try and get you to feel sorry for them. All those he has loved in the past has left them. You promise you will never do that. He is just misunderstood, and those other people were cruel, how could someone leave him? Maybe they have a ‘condition’ that causes outbursts, no matter what type of condition the abuser has, you shouldn’t tolerate being abused.

At these times he may seem very sweet and vunerable to you. This is another ploy to suck you in.

6. Sex as a punishment

6.) Physical affection can be used against you. He may withhold kissing, hugging and sex from you in an attempt to destroy your self-esteem. This may be done with simple phrases such as “What did you do today to deserve a kiss” as he comes home from work. After a while this will make you feel like you are not deserving of physical affection, even to the point of feeling unloved.

He may even resort to raping you by force, just to see what you will do. You may not feel like having sex when he wants it. This will not be tolerated. He will tell you that it excites him to see you struggling, you may go along with it at first. But after a time it will become more violent, in the process hurting you. The time may come when you no longer feel any physical attraction to him, he will notice this as use it against you as well. Blaming you, even going so far as to call you 'frigid'.

He may even resort to cheating on you, in this, you too will be blamed.  If you didn't do this or do that, will be his excuse.  This is quite common among abusers, they feel entitled to do as they wish, without concern for your feelings.  Why?  You are their property, they own you.  You don't have a voice, your opinions don't matter.  If you 'catch' them cheating they may resort to pity, until you have forgiven them.

If more than 2 apply to you, read on.

One or two of these issues discussed may not seem like much to you but, if you can say that more than 2 of them are in your life, now he’s got you where he wants you, under his control. You are completely and totally dependent on him for your every need. Your wants and needs will come last to him once he has you where he wants you.

7. self-esteem destroyed

7.) If it hasn’t already begun, he will work on your self-esteem. Even if you had great self-esteem before you met him, by the time he is done with you it will be greatly diminished. He will start by calling you names, then work on your personal issues, which you may have already discussed. If you feel that something is wrong with you, such as your weight, your boob size or any one of the numerous things we find wrong with ourselves, he will have taken notice. These will become his targets. You may feel that you are doing something by returning those insults, but he knows what he is doing, destroying you.  You are just angry.

You will have started to let ‘yourself go’, not taking care of yourself, not wearing makeup, wearing frumpy clothes. In this he will find problems, he will pick on that now, telling you how bad you look. This will send you mixed messages, why? Because he told you that you look great without makeup and you have changed your clothing to suit him, now he doesn’t like it. So you fix yourself up and what will you get? He will start accusing you of sleeping with someone behind his back, after all you have plenty of time during the day since you don’t work. You will argue and cry, try to prove to him that you have done nothing wrong. Now he has you on edge, with you questioning your every move. You don’t want to displease him, so you do everything he says for you to do.

8. children

8.) Children, he may use children to ensnare you forever. If you aren’t ready to get pregnant he may sabotage this so you do get pregnant. He will feel this will tie you two together forever. After all, no one wants to raise someone else’s child, will be his beliefs. Or if you want children and he doesn’t he will tell you he isn’t ready for them or maybe you can’t afford them right now. You may have already discussed this and he had told you that you would have children right away, but now he’s changed his mind. Anyway you look at it he is controlling what it is that you want.

If you should have a child with him, the mind of the abuser is already confused and he may question if the child is even his. This can be a huge issue between the two of you particularly if he has told you he didn’t want children. He will accuse you of cheating on him either way, as a way of keeping you on your toes and under your control. You will pamper him and give him the desired attention to ‘prove’ to him that he is the ‘only’ one for you!

9, Hitting

9.) You may feel that if he has only hit you one or two times you’re not being abused, with the thought “After all he did apologize, and he promised never to do it again”. This may be true, he may never do it again, are you willing to take that chance?

If all/some/most of the other things mentioned are in place, you can guarantee he will hit you again. He may even convince you that it was your fault that he raised his hand to you. How is this done? Maybe you burned the supper, if you were paying attention it wouldn’t have happened so that makes it your fault, right? It doesn’t matter that someone came knocking at the door at a critical moment in cooking, or maybe your child fell down and you were comforting him/her. No, he has you convinced it was your fault that he hit you.

The beatings will come more frequently, this is a promise. Each and every time he will have an excuse as to why he did it. Each excuse making it your fault. You know deep in your mind, somewhere in the recesses that how could you possibly control what happened at his job, yet you still believe on the surface that it was something you have done. If he has hit you and you have ended up in the hospital, he will learn from this. Why? People will question the bruises, he doesn’t want that. He will start hitting you where it doesn’t show. Kidney’s and body shots are a favorite of the abuser, the bruises won’t show unless you lift up your shirt, and he has made sure that you have no one to show.

10, Threats

10.) If he has threatened to kill you. If those words have been uttered out of his mouth, take them seriously. Believe him, especially if he has hit you. If he has spoken them early on in the relationship in a ‘joking’ manner, and then has become abusive, BELIEVE him. This relationship is not worth your life, it is destructive, it will end up destroying you.

In reality, it is NOT a relationship, it is ownership. He wants to own you, and if it has come to this, he is doing a fine job of it. You need to break the cycle, take ownership of yourself back.

What can you do?

What can you do? If at all possible get out and do it now. Do not use the excuse that all of your stuff is still there. Everything you own can be replaced. If you are left with your life, that is all you need. It took time to collect these things, if you leave you will have time to get them again. If you stay, your life may be forfeit, and your ‘stuff‘ won‘t matter.

The body is strong, yet at the same time fragile, it can only take so much abuse before quitting. A well placed blow can end a life rapidly.

There are emergency places for the abused, called ‘safe houses‘. The only way to get to most ’safe houses’ is either the police or a case worker has to bring you, you cannot just show up on your own. These are called ’safe houses’ for a reason, so that the abuser CANNOT find you, so you will feel safe. You will not live there forever, they will help you get on your feet. Offer you counseling to help you realize it was nothing that you have done.

Call family and friends, ask them if you can stay there for a while. Get your children out of this environment as soon as possible. He may threaten to take them from you, this has been a threat that abusers have used over the years. Once you have gotten out of the abusive relationship and have a gotten a clear head you may realize he was just using the children as pawns. There are a few instances where the abuser may try and make good on his threats. You will have to find inner strength to fight this. More than likely he will not fight you on this. Once he realizes that he no longer has you under his control he will move on to his next victim, forgetting about trying to control you any longer.

Are you being Abused?

The question remains, Am I being abused?  If you feel that you are being abused, then you probably are.  Listen to your inner self!  Your instincts are probably correct.  The sooner you get out, the faster you will be able to be healed mentally and get on with your life.


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