Top Signs You’re In An Abusive Relationship

Nobody wants to believe that their relationship has ended up being abusive. Unfortunately, all too often, the subtle signs of abuse seep through. But how do you know if you are experiencing it? Because some of our Nantucket Family Resource Center have been in these types of relationships themselves, we asked them to write this blog explaining the abusive relationship signs. Keep reading — if anything in this article feels like it could be happening to you, we want you to reach out to our team for help. 

Manipulations Using Emotions and Control 

Emotional abuse is one of the most common abusive relationship signs. Here’s how it often happens:

  • Gaslighting: An abusive partner will come up with imaginative ways for you to doubt your own reality or your memories. They’ll deny that certain events happened or that they happened in a totally different way than reality. 
  • Make You Feel Isolated: This often happens very gradually. They’ll find ways to keep you away from or entirely cut you off from your friends, family, and other supports. The isolation makes you feel like you have nobody to turn to but your abuser. 
  • Constant Criticism: They regularly belittle or criticize you, undermining your self-esteem and making you feel worthless.

Excessive Jealousy and Possessiveness

While some jealousy can be normal in relationships, excessive jealousy is a significant red flag. Signs of this include:

  • Monitoring Your Movements: Your partner insists on knowing where you are at all times, often checking up on you via texts or calls.
  • Accusations of Cheating: They frequently accuse you of being unfaithful without any justification, making you feel guilty and defensive.
  • Controlling Who You Talk to and Who You Socialize With: An abusive partner often gets extremely upset or angry when you want to meet up with your friends or family and not be with them 100% of the time. They might try to tell you that you can’t see those people anymore. 

Financial Control

Financial abuse is another subtle but powerful form of control. Look out for these signs:

  • Not Giving You Access to Money: By withholding money, it makes you dependent on your abusive partner. They will make you ask for permission to access even your own money at every turn. 
  • Sabotaging Employment: They discourage or prevent you from working, either by making you feel guilty about working or by creating obstacles that make it difficult for you to maintain a job.
  • Demanding to Know How You Are Spending Every Cent: Abusive relationship signs often revolve around money. Your partner might obsessively check your bank account and wallet and demand to know what you spend money on. 

Threats and Intimidation

Threats and intimidation are common abusive relationship signs that can be psychological rather than physical. These can include:

  • Threatening Harm: They threaten to hurt you, your children, or themselves if you don’t comply with their demands.
  • Destruction of Property: They destroy your belongings as a way to punish or intimidate you.
  • Intimidating Behavior: This can include standing too close, yelling, or using threatening gestures to make you feel scared or powerless.

Mood Swings Are Out of Control

Watch for unpredictable or explosive mood swings. These are clear abusive relationship signs. Do you feel like you are always walking on eggshells around your partner? Are you scared to say something because you are afraid it will trigger an explosive outburst? That’s a problem. Also, watch for these other signs: 

  • Extreme Anger: Sudden fits of rage over minor issues, often followed by a period of calm or affection, creating a cycle of tension and relief.
  • Emotional Outbursts: Regular, intense emotional reactions that seem disproportionate to the situation.
  • Blaming You for Their Emotions: They blame you for their anger or sadness, insisting that you’re the cause of their emotional distress.

Disrespect for Boundaries

An abusive partner often disregards your personal boundaries, making you feel violated or uncomfortable. Watch for these signs:

  • Ignoring Your Wishes: They consistently do things you’ve asked them not to, dismissing your feelings and boundaries.
  • Pushing Physical Boundaries: This can include unwanted touching, kissing, or forcing sexual acts without your consent.
  • Invasion of Privacy: They go through your personal belongings, read your messages, or eavesdrop on your conversations.

Minimizing and Denial

Abusers often minimize or deny their abusive behavior, making it difficult for you to recognize the severity of the situation. Signs of this include:

  • Downplaying Abuse: They insist that their behavior isn’t a big deal or that you’re overreacting.
  • Denying That They Are Causing Abuse: Often, they will entirely deny that they did anything wrong or that abusive events happened. They’ll also claim that they didn’t do specific behaviors. The point is to make you question what you remember. 
  • You Are Getting Blamed for Everything: An abusive partner will love to try to shift the blame onto you for everything. They’ll try to tell you that whatever they are doing to you is actually your fault or that you provoked them to do it to you.  

It’s Time for You to Get Help

Have you noticed any of these abusive relationship signs in your life? It’s not going to get better — in fact, abusive relationships usually worsen and spiral out of control. You absolutely need to find someone who can help. The Nantucket Family Resource Center (NFRC) offers private domestic violence support services, including someone to talk to who knows what you are going through, legal advice, or a safe place to stay.

For more information, visit the NFRC’s Domestic Violence Support page. Our staff wants you to remember that you never have to face this alone. Some of our staff have been in the same situation, so we truly understand what you are going through. Contact us and we can set up a time for you to come talk with us in total private. 

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