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What Are the Signs in an Abusive Relationship?

Updated on December 9, 2012

Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence


Domestic abuse.  Domestic violence.  What’s the difference?  Domestic abuse is known as spousal abuse.  In domestic abuse, one of the partners will dominate the relationship through control and use of power.  When physical violence is used to control and dominate the other person and the relationship, is known as domestic violence.  

Domestic abuse goes unreported, unnoticed and can even be denied by the abused.  There are several forms of abuse, which include physical, emotional, psychological and financial.  Regardless of the type of abuse, all these are linked to each other as side effects of the others.  In the end, all forms of abuse leave deep scars that take a long time to heal.

There is no specific profile for an abuser.  An abuser can be either male or female.  An abuser can be of any financial status level, religious background, ethnic background, and of any sexual orientation.  Abusers and domestic violence are non-discriminatory.  In this article, “he” can be used interchangeably with “she” and is not being used in any discriminatory fashion. 

The abuser is the one in the relationship who uses physical force, guilt, shame, and threats to keep control over his partner.  The abuser may go as far as threatening others that the abused loves, such as children or other family members, in order to keep a level of fear in the abused as the underlying foundation of his control over her.  The abuser does not abuse out of loss of control of his behaviour but rather through his own choice. 

Let's Look at You


For someone who is already in an abusive relationship, the first step to getting help out of the situation is to recognize the symptoms of an abusive relationship.  For someone who is not in one, then recognizing these symptoms will help prevent one from entering into such a relationship. 

There are many signs of an abusive relationship.  In all relationships, there are two people involved.  There is you and your partner.  As such, let’s discuss emotions and feelings that relate to you. 

The easiest sign to recognize is fear.  Are you afraid of your partner?  Do you walk on egg shells when your partner is around?  Are you afraid of doing/saying the wrong thing?  Are you afraid to speak up for yourself?  Do you do things to avoid a confrontation with your partner?  Do you feel that you cannot do anything right for your partner?  Do you feel that you “deserve” to be hurt or mistreated?  Do you believe that your relationship is “normal” and that you are the crazy one to think that it is not? Do you feel mentally or emotionally numb or frozen?  Are you afraid of your partner’s anger?  Do you fear for your well being?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then the relationship you are in is unhealthy. 

Let's Look at Your Partner


On the other hand, let’s discuss your partner’s behaviours.  Your partner’s behaviour can be categorized into three categories.  The first category relates to belittling behaviours.  Does your partner yell at you?  Does your partner humiliate you in front of friends, family or strangers?  Does your partner negatively over-criticize you?  Does your partner put you down?  Are you embarrassed by his treatment when you are with family and friends?  Are you embarrassed for your family and friends because of his treatment of you?  Does he treat you as a sex object or toy?  Does he treat you like a possession?  Does he ignore your opinions?  Does he put down your accomplishments?  Does he blame you for the way that he behaves? 

The second category relates to controlling behaviour on the part of your partner.  Does he check up on you constantly throughout the day?  Does he ask for a detailed account of your whereabouts?  Does he isolate you from your family and friends?  Does he control who you speak to and see?  Does he limit your access to money?  Do you need to ask to use the phone?  Do you need to ask to drive the car?  Is he obsessive and jealous over you?  Does he allow you privacy?

The last category relates to your partners violent and abusive behaviour.  Does he threaten to hurt or kill you?  Does he threaten to hurt or kill your children?  Does he threaten to hurt or kill himself?  Does he have an unpredictable temper?  Does he have a bad temper? Does he have a violent temper?  Does he threaten to take your children away?  Does he threaten to destroy your property?  Does he destroy your belongings?  Does he force you to have sex? 

I've Answered, Now What??

The questions that have been posed can be used as a checklist for any indicative signs of being in an abusive relationship. An abusive relationship is an unhealthy relationship. In other words, this relationship will not benefit you in any way; rather, it is dangerous to your physical, emotional and financial health. RUN -- don’t walk -- away from this relationship.


Copyright 2009

Category: Domestic Violence


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