Are you in a 'bad' relationship or is it an abusive one? Learn about the signs of an abusive relationship

Category: Better Relationships | Author and Publisher: Elly Prior | First published: 19-11-2013 | Modified: 23-07-2018

What it means to be in a toxic relationship and what to do to get out

Have you been wondering if what you're experiencing are the signs of an abusive relationship? Abusive men (and women) set out to ensure that their victims suffer in silence.

Are you married to an abusive spouse? Are you in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend? Are you the man who doesn't dare to talk about the abuse suffered at the hands of the woman who is supposed to love him? Although women are far more likely to suffer at the hands of abusive men, women too can be the perpetrators of domestic violence (yes, truly - see link below).

You might love as much as you can, and adjust your behaviour to whatever they demand (which changes all the time, so you'll never 'win') - but the truth is you're in an abusive relationship.

How come? I am hoping to help you with information on what the signs of a bad relationship are.

Picture quote: Walk away, yes, absolutely - when you're ready, but ensure you have support!

Were you fooled and are you 'stupid'?

It's no wonder you were fooled, whether you realise that now or not. And no, you're not stupid - it could have happened to anyone!

Often the abuser only reveals his true self only over time. (Over 85% of abusers are men, so read he or she depending on your situation.) He probably was your knight in shining armour - charming, caring, sensitive and loving - early on. And the two of you became  'serious' really quickly.

Then slowly the 'innocent' questions and comments begin. Why would you want to go out or stay in touch with so-and-so? Why would you want to be engaged in this or that activity? You'll soon be questioning this yourself and/or starting to feel guilty about wanting anything at all.

On the next page you'll find the all the signs that your man (or woman) is verbally, emotionally, sexually and/or mentally abusive - confirmation of whether or not you're in an unhealthy and abusive relationship.

I suspect you won't really be surprised to see your fears confirmed - finally. You probably didn't even realise you were in an abusive relationship during the first two stages of seduction and isolation. So, take a deep breath and read on...

Signs of an abusive relationship

Find out now if you're in an abusive relationship. If you answer YES to even one of three questions (depending on which one), you need to seek help as soon as possible.

The very fact that you're here, is a sign that you're already suspect you're in a bad relationship. Why would you otherwise be here (unless you have a professional interest of course)?

You may have been wondering whether you should  get out of the relationship, but...

  • you're too scared
  • you perhaps feel you need to be strong
  • you still think you can change him/her if only you knew how
  • you're the only one who really understands them
  • you're hoping that things will get better
  • they've apologetically promised you it won't happen again. Maybe they even cried at the awful realisation of what they've been doing to you, particularly after an 'incident'
  • they've threatened to kill you, themselves or someone you love
  • you love him or her
  • you're just not sure of the signs of a bad relationship, let alone an abusive one
  • you think they're damaged and badly need your love and support

So, are you being verbally, emotionally and physically abused by someone who's supposed to love you?

Whatever your thoughts or feelings - even after this test - I really want you to get help even if you suspect you're in abusive relationship.

Go through these lists of signs now. Remember that each question you answer with a 'yes' points to an aspect of your partner's behaviour that's likely to get worse over time.

This is my part in your journey to getting you to safety. I can only increase your awareness and point you in the right direction, but you need to shine a light on what is happening and ask for help.

I'm so pleased you are here!

Before we go on and just in case you thought you need to stick with this relationship, because you think your partner can't do without you - learn from, and remember, what Brene Brown has to say about boundaries...

I hope this helped you to see how important boundaries are.

Couple, woman with bruises on her armAre you in an abusive relationship? Who is your abuser?

25 Signs of physical, emotional, mental, sexual and financial abuse

  1. Does he/she physically hurt you - punch, slap, pinch, push, shove, pull or shake you?
  2. Does he/she have ‘play-fights’ with you that hurt you in any way?
  3. Does he/she use abusive language towards you?
  4. Does he/she call you names?
  5. Does he/she ridicule you?
  6. Does he/she humiliate you in any way, whether in company or not?
  7. Does he/she completely ignore your feelings and wishes (that is, if you've dared to express them)?
  8. Has he/she physically/sexually hurt you in any way?
  9. Does he/she force you to do stuff against your will?
  10. Does he/she ‘punish’ you by hurting you for anything that was 'not to his liking'?
  11. Does he/she know how to push your buttons, deliberately hurting you emotionally and mentally?
  12. Is he/she extremely demanding?
  13. Does he/she want to control every aspect of your relationship?
  14. Does he/she control what you wear - and often even then they're not pleased?
  15. Does he/she threaten to harm you, your children, other loved-ones or him/herself?
  16. Does he/she threaten to leave you, if you don't do as you're told?
  17. Does he/she threaten to kill him/herself if you leave them?
  18. Does he/she threaten to kill you?
  19. Is he/she extremely jealous?
  20. Does he/she make you feel guilty?
  21. Has he/she forced you to have an abortion?
  22. Has he/she stopped you using contraceptives?
  23. Is he/she tracking your online activities
  24. Is he/she tracking your whereabouts aided by the latest technological devices (including their and your mobile phones)?
  25. Does he/she control all aspects of your finances?

You can see how difficult it can be in some instances to distinguish the signs of a bad relationship from the signs of an abusive one.

Keep on reading - there's more to come...

What you need to know

When the abuse takes place in your home where your children reside - it is called child abuse!

Remember, your children have the right to be safe. You need to act on their behalf.

World Health Organisation - Violence impacts women's health

What about your family, friends and other important people?

10 Signs your partner is controlling your contact with other people

  1. Do you make choices based on what he/she might thinks, rather than what you would want?
  2. Are you increasingly preoccupied with avoiding the next 'onslaught'?
  3. Do you worry that you are 'the problem'?
  4. Do you feel 'edgy' or scared when your partner calls or walks up the path if you even dare to have friends or family around?
  5. Have family and friends expressed concerns about your well-being in this relationship?
  6. Have you found yourself defending him/her despite all of this - even when you were battered and bruised?
  7. Have you stopped seeing your family or friends because they are so negative about your partner
  8. Have you stopped contacting them because you suspect they can see all the signs of your 'bad' relationship, and you don't want them to question you about it?
  9. Have you stopped seeing friends and family, because your partner's 'complaints'?
  10. Has he or she prevented you from accessing health care?

Can you change him? Is there hope?

I so want you to understand that your partner is never going to behave any differently! Most of the signs I have mentioned aren't just those of a bad relationship - no, they are signs of an abusive relationship.

Yes, they're likely to promise that it won't ever happen again, they really won't do it again, this was truly the last time, etc. 

However, it is going to happen again! In any case - you shouldn't be waiting to see if it does.

No matter how hard you try to be the person he or she wants you to be, it's not going to get better. No matter how much you try to change them (if you even dare) or change yourself to prevent the next outburst, the situation is most likely to worsen over time.

It's not your fault

I know it can be a huge shock when you're confronted with all this stuff.

I can almost feel you crumpling up in a ball, too tired, beaten down (perhaps even literally) and low to take any action at all. Perhaps you've already experienced all of this before, in previous close couple relationships and/or in your childhood, though this by no means needs to be the case.

It can feel like you're 'broken' and that there's nothing left in you - your self-esteem and confidence are probably non-existent.

But, at the same time, perhaps it's a relief - you know you're not alone and you are not the only one this is happening to. Far from it!

I just want you to know that it is not your fault. You did not cause this man (or woman) to be abusive, aggressive or violent. Sure, you played a role in it all, just like each one of us does in all of our relationships/lives, but you did not deserve this and at any time you made the best decisions you knew how with the knowledge, awareness and understanding you had at any particular time. Al that whilst you live(d) in fear of 'being found out' - for even daring to breath it seems - even when the perpetrator is nowhere to be seen.

However, you know now the most important Signs of an Abusive Relationship and how an abusive man (or woman) behaves. All of this is regardless of age (though young women are most at risk), religion, nationality, level of education and income - it happens everywhere!

If it's happening to you, it is time to get help to get out. See below this article for a list of organisations that offer help.

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Related articles

Where to Get the Best Relationship Advice
Ways to Fix Your Relationship
How to Deal with Depression
How to Get Over Someone

Where to get help

For men and women

US and Canada - Domestic Abuse Helpline

For women

US - The National Domestic Violence Hotline
UK - Women's Aid
Australia - 1800respect

For men

Australia - One in Three Campaign
UK - ManKind Initiative


Learn how to delete your browser history (clearing evidence of having visited these pages)

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Images courtesy of: Zorah Olivia