Abusive Relationship Signs
- The Specifics

Abusive relationship signs are typically much easier to see in someone else's situation than in your own. You can see something in a film or in real life and think to yourself that what is going on over there is unacceptable and that if you were in such a situation you would not let people talk to you in that manner or that you would simply walk away.

Being on the receiving end of verbal or psychological abuse, being the victim, is not what many people imagine it to be. Most think that they would instantly recognize abusive behavior and that they would end the relationship. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

People are tricked into starting a relationship with an abuser. The abuser hides their true nature initially from the victim. They have to because who would willingly start a relationship with someone they know to be really abusive?

So the victim starts a relationship with someone they believe to be a good person. Then, insidiously, the abuse starts. Over time, when the abuser knows they have more control, things get worse. This control over another person is what the abuser is after the whole time.


Confirm or deny

If you are looking for information about abusive relationship signs, I am going to assume that you suspect that you may be in a controlling relationship and you are looking for confirmation or denial of this.

With this in mind, I will explain about isolation, why it's difficult to see that you may be isolated and then point out what the abuser does and says to isolate you while making you think it's your idea to spend less time with family and friends.

Then I will look at other things that the abuser says and does as signs to watch out for.

Later on, we will examine in detail why it is hard to see other abusive relationship signs as well as what particular effects the abuse has on the victim. Ok, so lets take a look at this notion of isolation...


Abusive relationship signs - Isolation

Isolating you from friends and family is one of the typical abusive relationship signs that is quoted in many articles. However, many victims don't see that they are isolated. They believe that they themselves have chosen to separate from family or friends because they believe they are evil/abusive/annoying/obstructive or some other reason. They read about this notion of isolation and they think that it doesn't apply to them. In their head they are not isolated, they have been given another reason (by the abuser) as to why they no longer have a relationship with their friends. Basically, they do not recognize that it was the influence of the abuser that led them to make the decision to distance themselves from previously close friends or family.

So what do you look out for as the signs that an abuser is isolating you?

Does your partner repeatedly make fun of your family or friends? Does your partner ridicule or laugh at them? Or criticize them? Does your partner frequently point out the negative aspects of your family and friends?

Does your partner criticize you for having chosen such friends? Does your partner remind you of how much better off you are by not hanging around with these people?

Does your partner make you feel bad when you want to spend time with them? Does your partner insist that they don't want to spend time with your friends? Does your partner call you a lot when you are with friends or family?

When your friends or family come over, does your partner make them feel uncomfortable? Does he or she openly criticize them or start arguments with them? Does your partner act very weird or embarrass you in front of them? (This discomfort will cause your friends not to want to return. It becomes easier for them to just avoid you or turn down any future invitations.)

If friends or family tell you bad things about your partner, does you partner redefine things by saying that they don't want you to be happy, that they are jealous, or they want to keep you dependent...?

Have you got to the stage where it's just more comfortable for you not to spend time with friends or family because if avoids confrontation or arguments with your partner?

Do you believe that your friends or family are out to do you harm and so it's best to avoid them? Did you think this before meeting this partner? If there was a big change in how you think about your family and friends after you met your partner, then this is one of those very significant abusive relationship signs.

Right, I hope now that you can see that "my partner says my parents are controlling and dominating" is at a different level than "my partner is isolating me from my support network". Getting from one thing to another is where the manipulator alters the perception and meaning-making ability of the victim.

The abuser may say that pointing out to you that your parents are controlling is done to help you to mature, become independent, make your own decisions, live your own life and be happy and so on and so forth. Who would not want all these things?!? When the victim is convinced of these ideas (and the abuser will repeat them often enough to make sure they are), the idea that they are being isolated seems so far from the reality of the victim that they can easily dismiss it.


Abusive relationship signs - what is actually said and done

Let's run through a list of what abusers and manipulative personalities say and do that qualify as abusive relationship signs.

Does your partner call you names?

Does your partner remind you often that you are stupid, worthless, ignorant, useless?

Do they regularly make comments about your weight? This includes anything from saying that you are fat, you need to lose weight to things such as "If only you lost a few pounds, you would be much better." This latter comment may be said in a 'semi-caring' kind of way, but the repetition and the tone of voice can be cutting. These comments don't make you feel good.

Do they regularly make comments about your appearance? A big chin or a thin face is not something you can change easily and repeated comments about these things just chip away at your self confidence.

Does your partner object to you chatting to others of the opposite sex, but they are allowed to do just that?

Does your partner swear at you a lot?

Does your partner give you the silent treatment a lot?

Do they say personal things in public about you that make you feel embarrassed?

Do they act like the perfect spouse in public but act like a dictator behind closed doors?

Do they throw things at you or towards you?

Do they punch the walls close to your head?

Have they ever hit you? Even once? It's common for abusers to hit their victims early in the relationship. They may never do it again, but there is always the fear that they might do it again, because you know that they are capable of it.

What about pinching, pushing, burning, inflicting pain with objects? All these constitute physical abuse, too.

Are you made to feel that if anything goes wrong that it's always your fault. "Look what you made me do!" and "I was only responding to what you did" and "I am doing this for your benefit" are things that are often said by the abuser. And by the time a person is caught in an abusive situation, it's common for the victim to accept these excuses. If you believe these ideas, it's important that you understand that they are actually not valid justifications but rather they are signs of an abusive relationship.

What makes a cult?

Does you partner ever say sorry? If they do say sorry, do they mean it? By that I mean do they stop the offending behavior? If not, if they just go straight back to it, then it's not an apology. It's another one of the abusive relationship signs.

Does your partner make awful comments about you and when you get upset they blame you for taking it seriously or not being able to take a joke?

Are you told that you are overly sensitive, overly emotional, an empath or that you are controlled by your emotions?

They keep you financially dependent. What does this mean? Does your partner spend their money as well as yours? Or do they have full control over the finances where you have to ask for every little thing? Or do they claim that there is no money for what you want but they seem to have funds for whatever they want themselves? Do they claim that when you want something it's selfish but when they want something it's for the benefit of the relationship?

Does your partner know how to make you feel really great but can also make you feel really awful? When they do either one does it feel sometimes like they are pressing a switch, it's that fast?

Does your partner ever deny having said or done something when you know full well that it happened. (This is called gaslighting.)

Does your partner use the excuse "I don’t remember that" when you remind them of something they said or did, but they seem to have extraordinary recall for things you have said or done?

Have you noticed that when you are happy or you have achieved something or even when you have bought something that you like, they do something to ruin the moment? They criticize you, start an argument or remind you of something bad...

Have you noticed that their 'generosity' comes with conditions? "I have done this for you, now I expect you to..." "I love you so you have to..." "I earn the money and that means you should..." and along the same lines, "If you loved me, you would do..."

Does your partner constantly find fault with you? Are the compliments few and far between? Have you noticed that the more you do, the more they expect? And that there is never any end to their demands? "I know you did that, but that was last week, now I want..." "Yes you did something special recently, but I do x, y and z for you and I think it's only fair that now you..."

Are you afraid of your partner? Afraid of his temper, his possible retaliations, his cutting tongue?

Does your partner make you feel guilty? Guilty about who you are, what you do, what you like, your family, your work, your interests?

Do they make you feel guilty about your past? Reminding you over and over again how you are broken, damaged, defective in some way?

Learn more about living with a controlling person
and the characteristics of a controlling parent.


More abusive relationship signs

Apart from what your partner says and does there are other abusive relationship signs that you should NEVER ignore.

Are you confused about what is going on in your relationship?

Are you told that you are the problem but you know deep down that there is something wrong with him but you are not sure what?

Are you constantly walking on egg-shells because you don't know what mood he is going to be in next?

Is your partner constantly in your head?

Do you doubt yourself a lot?

Do you think you might be going crazy?

Do you have conflicting emotions often at the same time?

Is your head telling you one thing but your body/feelings say something else?

Do you feel like you are at war with yourself?

Do you think that you have changed a lot since being with this partner?

Do you think you have lost yourself in this relationship? Do you ever think that you don't know who you are anymore?


More thoughts

This is by no means an exhaustive list of abusive relationship signs. There are many more. However, if many of these things here resonate with you, then you need to consider that you are, in fact, in an abusive relationship. You then need to educate yourself further in order to protect yourself.

As I said above, it's often hard to figure out what is going on. One helpful thing you can do is to go through the list with a trusted friend or family member (not your partner!). An outsider will often be able to recognize things that you cannot.

Ok, onto the next piece. Let's check out why it's difficult so spot abusive relationship signs.

And then you can read about the effects on you of being in a controlling relationship. The article is about what happens in a marriage to a sociopath. Don’t be put off by the title, the same type of dynamics occur in any controlling relationship.

There is also more information here about emotional abuse signs, healing from emotional abuse, and mind control.

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Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?

If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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