It’s not always easy to determine if a relationship is abusive. An abusive relationship is a relationship with violence. This violence can be in various forms. Be it physical, emotional, or psychological, no form of abuse should be tolerated in a relationship. No one ever wants to be in an abusive relationship, but partners who turn out to be abusive rarely exhibit patent traits of an abusive partner before the relationship begins or is in its early stages, therefore, it might be difficult to pick up on those traits until you’re committed to them. Being committed does not give you liberty to condone an abusive relationship. Abuse in a relationship can either come from males or females. It is not a gender-restricted problem. One should always be on the lookout for signs and know when a relationship is no longer healthy for you.
Signs to look out for
Below are the signs that may indicate that a relationship is or might turn out to be abusive:
1. They are possessive
An abusive partner doesn’t want to share you with anybody or anything. They would like you to spend all your time with them and not be committed to any other person or thing, be it your family, friends, your job, or your hobbies. They want you committed to them at the expense of every other person or interest in your life.
2. They put you down or insult you
If your partner constantly attacks your looks, intelligence, skills, preferences, or life choices, it’s a sign of abuse. Do not be tempted to explain it away as angry outbursts as this is usually meant to reduce your self-esteem, make you feel undeserving of them, and feel like you don’t have options.
3. They push for your quick commitment
Although nothing is wrong with wanting commitment from your partner, constantly pushing them to make commitments they are not comfortable making is abuse. An abusive partner can push for commitment by using emotional blackmail, threatening to leave, or withholding affection.
4. They scare you
An abusive partner may scare you by shouting at you, breaking things, or making subtle threats. Immediately you don’t feel safe or secure in a relationship, or you are scared to get out of the relationship; it’s a worrying symptom of abuse.
5. They push your buttons
Everyone has irks or fits of anger, something that scares them, etc., and a partner is supposed to reassure you about your fears and insecurities. Where a partner keeps bringing up issues that scare you or make comments they know will infuriate you, that’s a sign of abuse.
6. They are controlling
When a partner wants to control everything about you ranging from what you wear to which career path to follow, it’s usually a sign of abuse. Your partner should respect your desires and choices even if they don’t fully understand.
7. They prevent you from improving yourself
Partners in a relationship should help each other to better themselves. When a partner tries to keep you from acquiring more skills or perhaps furthering your education, it’s usually a sign of abuse. Their disapproval may be because they don’t want you to spend any time on yourself or because they are scared that you may become independent. Either way, it amounts to abuse.
8. Mood swings and unpredictability
When your partner has sudden and inexplicable moodiness or anger, it might be a way of seeking for your continued undivided attention. These mood swings can interfere with your life, career, and other interests; and in that case, you are in an abusive relationship
9. Putting the blame for everything on you
If your partner always finds a way to blame you for everything, including things you have no control over, it’s an indication of abuse. If you always have something to apologize for in your relationship, it might be because your partner likes making you feel bad about yourself.
10. Convinces you that you are indebted to them
When your partner is always reminding you of all the sacrifices they have made for you, all the things they have given you, or how they have made you a better person, it makes you feel indebted to them and makes you accept normally unacceptable behavior as a kind of repayment for all the things they have done for you.
This means when your partner denies something you know is true to make you question your memory or even your sanity. If your partner gaslights, they will never admit the truth to you in spite of any evidence you might have or how many times you insist on the truth.
A partner should support and encourage your interests and goals. Hence, if your partner always dismisses your ideas, interests, or projects as unimportant, it might be a symptom of abusive tendencies.
13. Isolating you from your friends or family
Friends or family are usually the first to notice signs that a relationship is abusive, sometimes even before the person being abused realizes, so an abusive partner might want to isolate a person from their friends and family
14. Intruding on your privacy
Although openness and transparency are attributes of a good relationship, nobody should be forced to reveal information they would otherwise not reveal. When your partner begins to snoop into your private emails and messages or tries to coerce you into giving them your passwords, it’s an indication of abuse.
15. They make you responsible for their emotions
An abusive partner will usually blame you for whatever emotions they are experiencing. Whether they are angry, sad or moody, you are the cause, and you are also responsible for making them feel better.
16. They refuse to apologize
Disagreements are a normal part of every relationship. However, the way these disagreements are resolved can be a pointer as to whether the relationship is abusive or not. Where a partner persistently refuses to apologize for any wrongdoing whatsoever, it usually sends a message that they are not committed enough to make an effort on the relationship, creating insecurities in the mind of the partner.
17. You do things you don’t like because you are scared of their reaction
Making sacrifices for your partner is a good thing and shows signs of commitment to the relationship. But when the sacrifices you’re making are not out of affection but out of fear of how they will react, it’s usually a sign of an abusive relationship.
Another symptom of abuse is when your partner cheats on you, especially if it is recurrent. When a cheating partner knows that their partner would find it difficult to quit the relationship, they take advantage of that and have affairs. Sometimes, they might not bother to keep it a secret.
19. They make you feel unintelligent
This is a common tactic of abusive partners. They consistently make comments about how unintelligent you are. These comments, no matter how subtle, are usually intended to make you feel less about yourself and thereby concede and kowtow to all their whims or desires.
20. They keep secrets
Although it’s been earlier stated that a symptom of an abusive relationship is a lack of respect for a partner’s privacy or disregard of boundaries, keeping secrets could also be a sign of abuse. Also, a partner refusing to share important details about themselves might be a way of exploiting their partner’s insecurities.
21. Excessive giving
Normally, relationships entail the exchange of gifts. However, when the gifts are excessive it might be a ploy to make you feel indebted to them, to make you overlook their faults or misdeeds, or to make you reluctant to quit the relationship.
22. Controlling your money or finances
Abusive partners don’t want their partners to be independent, and an important aspect of independence is financial independence. If your partner tries to control how much you spend or wants to receive your paychecks on your behalf, it’s a symptom of abusive tendencies.
23. Humiliating you in public
If your partner uses condescending words or tone when talking to you In front of friends, it’s a symptom of abuse. The condescension may be disguised as humor or sarcasm.
24. They try to convince you it’s all in your head
An abusive partner would never admit to the pattern of abuse. They would rather claim that you imagine things and that it’s all in your head. If other people also seem to believe that there are signs of abuse, they convince you that those people are wrong.
25. They blame you for the abuse
Another abusive tactic partners use is to blame you for the abuse. They convince you that they are abusive not because they are bad people but because of how you treat them.
An abusive partner might use the tactic of been exceedingly loving immediately before or after an episode of abuse. For example, after an episode of verbal abuse, they take you out for a romantic dinner or buy you expensive gifts. The purpose of this is to misdirect and make the abuse seem less important.
Abusive partners use threats to scare their partners into subservience. The threats might not be in words but by actions. For example, your partner destroying your property in a fit of rage
28. Physical violence
This is usually the culmination of all the earlier indications and symptoms of abusive tendencies. The violence might not necessarily entail them hitting you, but holding your arm very tightly, shoving you out of the way, and throwing things in your direction all count as physical violence.
It’s possible that after discovering you’re in an abusive relationship, you still find it difficult to call it quits. You might give different excuses for your partner like: “He/She is not violent all the time,” “It’s an isolated incident,” “It’s my fault,” and so on but note that these excuses are effects of the abuse. Therefore, when you notice these symptoms, get out of that relationship.