Has your partner ever treated you in a way that makes you wonder, “Is this normal”? It’s true–every relationship has its ups and downs. But there is a difference between normal, healthy disagreements and unhealthy, abusive relationships.
While the broadest term for an abusive relationship is domestic violence, your partner does not necessarily need to be violent for his behavior, words, or actions to be considered abusive.
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,” can indicate an abusive relationship. Even one or two may indicate serious trouble. Once started, controlling behavior and abuse almost always increase in frequency and nature.
Your Partner May Be Abusive if He:
- Goes through your personal things, such as your purse, cell phone, or email
- Eavesdrops on private conversations
- Severely distrusts you, continuously questioning and accusing you of things
- Constantly checks on your whereabouts when you’re not with him
- Puts you down when he’s angry but builds you up when he’s happy
- Manipulates you
- Threatens violence
- Has a history of fighting or violence
- Won’t allow you to do anything without him
- Isolates you from friends and family
- Won’t allow you to work or go to school, even though you want to
- Abuses alcohol or drugs
- Pressures you to use alcohol or drugs
- Has sudden mood changes—nice one moment and explodes the next
- Acts possessive and jealous—thinks of you as “his”
- Tells you what to do, what not to do, and what to wear
- Pressures you for or guilts you into sex
- Expects sex whenever he wants it, even if you are tired, ill, or asleep
- Insists you perform sex acts you don’t like or aren’t comfortable with
- Makes you watch porn, even though you don’t want to
- Refuses to accept a breakup or threatens suicide if you leave him
- Blames others for his problems
- Blames others for his feelings
- Degrades you or diminishes your accomplishments
- Breaks objects, especially if done so to terrorize or punish you
- Shows up at work or home unexpectedly, trying to catch you doing something wrong
- Hinders your freedom to move, such as blocking a door or holding you in place to keep you from leaving a room
You May Be an Abuse Victim if You:
- 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
- Don’t 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?”