10 Signs of an Abusive Relationship

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Article by Wendy McCance

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship?  Being in a toxic relationship does more harm to a person than anything else I can think of.  The effects of the abuse last long after you leave the relationship, and hopefully, if you’ve been in one of these relationships, you did leave.

The most disturbing type of abusive relationship is the emotionally controlling relationship.  Not to say that a physically abusive relationship isn’t horrible, but it is harder to recognize a bad relationship when there is no physical abuse going on.

There are several signs that indicate you are in an abusive relationship.

The top 10 signs are:

1.  Out of control outbursts.  The partner who seems to lose their cool when in a conflicting situation, but only with you.  In front of friends, family and co-workers, they can stay even-keeled in a stressful moment, but in front of you, they can’t seem to control their emotions.  The intensity of their anger is much greater than the situation would call for which makes the entire episode that much more confusing.

2.  The persuasive talker.  The partner is a skilled manipulator who can persuade you to see things in a manner that seems completely wrong deep down.  They may get you to believe that you are lucky to have them in your life.  How would you navigate through so many difficult moments without them?  Basically, they convince you that you can’t get through life without their support.

3.  The blame game.  You will find that when things are going wrong for your partner, it is never their fault, it is always your fault.  They will twist circumstances to make you the reason why they didn’t get a raise or lost a friend.  An example would be that you complained to your partner about their long hours at work and that is why they didn’t get the promotion.

4.  Pointing out faults.  If you do something that they see as wrong, even the most minor of issues, you will hear rage, blame and it never seems to end.  Let’s say you left a plate on a table.  You forgot to put it in the dishwasher.  For months you will hear about that one plate and how you live in filth or can’t take care of the most minor responsibilities.  Everything is exaggerated.  If you were to point out an issue your partner has, good luck getting something to change.  Your partner will most likely sulk and walk away, or turn the tables and point out all of your faults.

5.  Domination.  Your partner will try to control you at every turn.  That is until you get brave enough to think about leaving.  All of a sudden, the dominance is gone and you are left with a submissive partner.  Asking for forgiveness, saying how wonderful you are and begging for you to stay.  Once you fall for the act, you are right back to a partner who takes complete charge again.  This time around it will most likely be worse because they will remind you that you didn’t care enough and were going to leave them.

6.  Control and isolation.  An abusive partner will slowly control your movements until they isolate you from friends, family and co-workers.  Other people are a threat to your partner who sees those people as being able to convince you to leave the toxic relationship.  The partner will find reasons for you not to see others.  You will hear that they wish you wouldn’t see them because they don’t treat you well or they don’t like your partner.    On the other hand, they will get close to any person they feel they can manipulate.  This gives them additional reinforcement so that if you question bad behavior and talk about it with a friend, they are more likely to take your partners side saying, they could never see them acting a certain way, they obviously love you and maybe you just misunderstood them.

Watch out for the partner who will act submissive around their friends and family when you are present.  They will complain that you do the things that they are doing to you.  This is done quietly behind your back and you are left wondering why people are acting strange around you.  It is their attempt to get more people on their side and against you.  The goal is to make you feel as though no one likes you but your partner and that you are lucky to have them because you are a horrible person.

7.  Verbal put downs.  Name calling and pointing out flaws or weaknesses is not something that is done in a healthy relationship.  Another way a partner will take over is by putting themself down to take whatever is being brought up off of them and instead try to make you feel bad for the fact that they are supposedly feeling bad for themself.

8.  Lying.  You will catch your partner in the dumbest lies.  After awhile, you will no longer know what is real and what isn’t because everything is lied about no matter if it makes sense to lie or not.

9.  Jealousy.  Good relationships, success at work, looking nice in an outfit are all met with jealousy.  You might be put down for an outfit you wear as being to revealing, not flattering or questioned about why you are trying to look so nice.  Jealousy comes up whenever you seem to be doing well and are happy.  Comparison’s are always made in the abuser’s mind and no matter how much you keep things quiet, your good moments are tallied and the abuser becomes jealous that you might have more going on than they do so they knock you down.

10.  Physical abuse.  Shoving, spitting, hitting, grabbing, restraining, basically anything that draws fear in you because of a physical action is a red flag that you need to get out of a relationship.  There is no such thing as someone losing control once without it coming up sometime down the road again.

If you are brave enough to leave a toxic relationship, and I hope you are, make sure you have a plan in place.  If you feel isolated, there are several community hotlines that can help you take the next step.

I was in an abusive relationship.  It wasn’t until I was pushed to the ground and spit on with a baby in my arms that I finally grew enough courage to leave.  I called a local hotline to find out how I could safely get myself and kids out of an increasingly dangerous situation.

I was terrified to call because my phone records were being reviewed daily and the numbers I dialed were being questioned.  When I knew it was time to leave, I had become completely isolated from friends and was in a bad place with my own family.  I felt that I had no one who could help.  The place I called was Haven which is a local domestic violence help center in Oakland County, Michigan.  They walked me through scenarios and gave me advice on how to take care of myself and my kids.  It was the best thing I could have done.

My ordeal wasn’t easy and I was scared.  There was a restraining order, a lot of police involvement and weekly meetings with other mothers who had been in abusive relationships and left.

If you are in an abusive relationship, you need to know that there are people who can help.  You are worth so much more than what you are dealing with.  There are people out there who will see all the good in you and love you for who you are.

Here are some websites you can check out if you need some help.

The National Domestic Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Domestic Violence Hotline

Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

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9 thoughts on “10 Signs of an Abusive Relationship

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Wendy. The underlying trait of an abuser is fear: fear of losing control of life, fear of losing out in a relationship, fear of people seeing how weak they really are. All the anger is an expression of underlying fear. Abusers are never self-contained human beings; they need to lower others in order to try to elevate themselves above their own deficiencies.

    They also feed on other people’s inherent goodness, rather like a spider that sucks all the life force out of its prey.

    I’m sure, having lived through that experience, you now have a greater appreciation of the goodness in life, and the opportunity to pursue your own dreams, without someone else’s approval.
    I wish you well!

    Cheers,
    Kevin Casey

    • Thanks Casey, I learned a lot, you are right. I feel lucky that I found a way out of being in that relationship. It took me close to 18 years before I was completely free from them.

  2. I feel it is easy for someone to say if a person is in an abusive relationship then they should just leave but I don’t think it is is that easy to just leave, I have never been in an abusive relationship so I have no idea what it is like but seeing that you are in an abusive relationship and having the courage to leave is easier for an outsider to see

    • It’s definitely not easy. In fact, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. When you have lived with someone for a long period of time habits are formed and self-esteem is severely diminished. I was with the same person for 15 years before I left. I had a dream of the perfect family and kids growing up in a loving, secure household. Seeing things as they really were and breaking up a family because it would be healthier for everyone was tremendously painful. It was the best decision I could have ever made, but finding the will to actually leave was not simple.

  3. I had a former friend that when we were friends try to steal a lot of money from me. Although he was persuasive, cajoling and sneaky, I can say I am glad I survived the “friendship”, although it took some court dates to straighten everything out.

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