Abusers use fear, intimidation, manipulation, terror, humiliation, and blame to gain or maintain power and control over another. While people usually think of it as physical violence, it can also be verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, and even spiritual.
Any of the following signs, none of which are “normal,” indicate an unhealthy relationship. Even one or two can indicate trouble. Once started, controlling behavior and abuse almost always increase in frequency and nature.
Does your partner:
- Go through your things, such as your purse, cell phone, or email?
- Eavesdrop on private conversations?
- Distrust you, continuously question and accuse you of things?
- Check on your whereabouts when you’re not with him?
- Put you down when he’s angry, build you up when he’s happy?
- Manipulate you?
- Threaten violence?
- Have a history of fighting or violence?
- Not want you to do anything without him?
- Do things to isolate you from friends/family?
- Not allow you to work or go to school, even though you want to?
- Abuse alcohol or drugs?
- Pressure you to use alcohol or drugs?
- Have sudden mood changes—nice one moment, explodes the next?
- Act possessive/jealous—think of you as “his”?
- Tell you what to do, what not to do, what to wear?
- Pressure you for or guilt you into sex?
- Expect sex whenever he wants it, even if you are tired, ill, or asleep?
- Insist you perform sex acts you don’t like or aren’t comfortable with?
- Make you watch porn even though you don’t want to?
- Refuse to accept a breakup?
- Blame others for his problems?
- Blame others for his feelings?
- Degrade you or diminish your accomplishments?
- Break objects, especially if done so to terrorize or punish you?
- Show up at work or home unexpectedly trying to catch you doing something wrong?
- Hinder your freedom to move, such as blocking a door or holding you in place to keep you from leaving a room?
- Rehearse what you’ll say to keep him from getting angry?
- “Walk on eggshells” so as not to upset or anger him?
- Accept the blame for all that goes wrong?
- Find yourself apologizing all the time?
- Not do things you used to find enjoyment in?
- Excuse your partner’s behavior to others or yourself?
- Keep your feelings hidden and buried?
- Constantly work to gain his approval and happiness?
Other behaviors that indicate a potential for abuse:
- Quick involvement—comes on like a whirlwind, pressures you to commit.
- Unrealistic expectations—for you to be the perfect wife, lover, and homemaker.
- Hypersensitivity—easily insulted and sees all things as a personal attack.
- Cruelty to animals—punishes them brutally, insensitive to their pain or suffering.
- Cruelty to children—expectations beyond their ability, teases them until they cry.
- Playful force in sex—holds you down, acts out fantasies with you being helpless.
- Rigid sex roles—expects you to serve him, he is the boss and you are inferior.
If reading this gives you concerns about your relationship, please reach out to someone. There are people who care. There is help.Read “What Can I Do?”