ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP SIGNS: 15 Emotional and Mental Signs You Should Know


When you’re in an abusive relationship, it’s not necessarily clear. This article highlights some of the most common signs of an abusive relationship. It’s normal for someone who is abused to believe that the abuse is their fault and that they ‘deserve’ it. It’s also critical to understand that you are never to blame for how someone who abuses you treats you.

Abusive Relationship Signs

Physical violence is only one aspect of an abusive relationship. It might entail sexual, mental, and physical abuse, as well as financial control. Here are some warning signs to keep an eye out for.

1. Possessive and controlling behavior

  • They constantly check in on you to see where you are, what you’re up to, and who you’re with.
  • They try to control where you go and who you see, and if you don’t do as they say, they become enraged.

2. Being irrationally envious

  • They accuse you of being disloyal or flirting with someone else.
  • They alienate you from your family and friends, frequently by behaving in an obnoxious manner toward them.

3. Put-downs

  • They make fun of your IQ, appearance, mental health, or abilities, either publicly or privately.
  • They continuously make negative comparisons between you and others.
Related Article: TYPES OF ABUSE IN A RELATIONSHIP: What Are They & How to Detect Them
  • They blame you for all of your relationship’s difficulties, as well as their violent outbursts.
  • They say things like, ‘There will be no one else who wants you.

4. Threats

  • They scream or pout and purposefully break items that you value.
  • They threaten to harm you, your family, friends, or a pet with violence.
  • Violence, both physical and sexual
  • They shove you, hit you, or grasp you.
  • Make you have sex or do things you don’t want to do by forcing or tricking you.
  • They endanger you, your pets, or your loved ones.

Emotionally Abusive Relationship Signs

Emotional abuse is frequently used to exert control over another individual. If you’re concerned that you and your partner are going through this, Benton recommends looking for these ten signs, as identified by Dr. John Gottman of The Gottman Institute:

1. Control

Your companion may appear overly invested in your social life or police your daily activities without appreciating your wishes. You are not allowed to make your own decisions (either overtly or subtly). Even insignificant remarks that threaten your independence might be used to exert control.

2. Yelling

It’s natural for spouses to raise their voices from time to time, but it’s unhealthy when disputes turn into shouting on a daily basis. It’s extremely alarming if you’re scared. Not only does yelling make it difficult to have a good conversation, but it also creates a power imbalance because only the loudest person is heard.

3. Contempt

It’s difficult for either couple to convey their sentiments when one feels contempt for the other. Benton points out that in a good relationship, your spouse is expected to listen and respect you (even if they can’t provide you with what you require). Contempt may form a barrier in your relationship if they respond to your demands with mean-spirited sarcasm, arrogance, disgust, or disinterest.

4. An overabundance of defensiveness

There is less room for healthy dialogue when you continuously feel the need to defend yourself. It’s critical for both sides to be able to communicate openly—and honestly—in order to settle conflicts. Excessive defensiveness, according to Benton, might make you feel as though you’re fighting a battle and your shield is always up.

5. Threats

You may believe you’re in danger if your partner threatens you in any way. Blackmail, threats of physical damage or suicide, or other threatening utterances are all examples of coercive “if, then” assertions, but they all have the same goal: to push victims into a corner (and prevent them from leaving).

6. Stonewalling

Stonewalling occurs when one person refuses to talk or communicate, according to Benton. It can feel like your partner is abandoning you if he or she shuts down difficult conversations. Their inability to discuss difficulties could be interpreted as a rejection or a disregard for your sentiments.

7. Blame

Victims are frequently led to feel that they are the ones who cause—and hence deserve—their own abuse and misery, making it far more difficult to escape the cycle. The humiliation that many victims feel for allowing their abuse to continue might worsen this.

8. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation that causes victims to question their memories, judgment, and sanity. You may also be undergoing gaslighting if your worries (or even recollections) are regularly disregarded as “fake,” “dumb,” or “insane.”

9. Isolation

Emotional abuse is widespread and affects people from all walks of life. The impact on victims’ relationships with friends and relatives is particularly notable. Abusers frequently persuade their victims that no one cares. Victims of alienation may feel as if they are on an island, cut off from loved ones and previous versions of themselves.

10. Volatility

It might be an indication of abuse if a relationship is continuously disrupted by mood fluctuations. Many people go through normal ups and downs, but it becomes a problem when one’s spouse is harmed. Following an outburst, volatile abusers frequently shower their victims with gifts and affection, only to become enraged again shortly after.

Mentally Abusive Relationship Signs

Here are some of the telltale signs that your partner is violent and intends to turn your relationship into a mentally abusive one. Your lover makes you feel horrible by humiliating you and criticizing you. They tell you that they were merely ‘teasing’ you and that you should stop being so sensitive when you react.

In a mentally abusive relationship, this form of behavior causes you not to challenge your partner’s insults. Identifying signs of an abusive spouse will assist you in coping with an abusive spouse and escaping a mentally abusive relationship.

1. Your companion dismisses your efforts to develop yourself.

They will tell you that you will never succeed if you try self-care, such as starting a new fitness program or eating a nutritious diet, asking things like “Why to bother?” “Give it a month and you’ll quit the gym like you usually do,” or “Give it a month and you’ll quit the gym like you always do.” The mental abuser never encourages you or anybody else, but instead demands your total loyalty and faith in them.

2. Outside support systems pose a threat to your partner.

  • A mentally abusive individual dislikes it when their victim has outside support from friends and family.
  • If you’re in a mentally abusive relationship, they may tell you that you’re a liability and try to persuade you to leave.
  • A mentally abusive husband or wife would blame your pals for something, claiming they are merely using you or don’t like you.
  • As for your family, they believe you should take them out of your life because they are harmful.

If you tell your abuser that you are going to therapy, this is one of the mentally abusive relationship signs. Also, They’ll tell you that all therapists are charlatans and that you’re wasting your money. They are the only ones who know what you require.

3. Anxiety is a frequent companion.

They make you believe that anything you do outside of your relationship needs their consent. You live your days in a condition of worry and apprehension, which is one of the abusive relationship signs. They’ve made you believe that you need their permission for everything you do.

4. Your partner is completely devoid of a sense of humor.

Your mentally abusive boyfriend or girlfriend will never laugh at a mistake they make. They will become enraged if they believe someone is laughing at them, even if it is in a lighthearted fashion. Your relationship has just a few moments of levity if any at all. You can be sure that everything they find amusing is based on cruelty, such as an animal being harmed or a youngster being bullied.

5. Your partner never accepts blame for any errors.

One of the telltale signs of an abusive marriage is that everything is always your fault or the fault of someone else.

  • They never express regret.
  • Were they supposed to pick you up from work but forgot? You were to blame for not reminding them.
  • If they yell at you during a dispute, they will not apologize once they have calmed down.

Physically Abusive Relationship Signs

When one person in a relationship tries to dominate and control the other, it is called abuse. Control usually starts with psychological or emotional abuse and progresses to physical assault. Domestic violence is a word used to describe domestic abuse that involves physical assault.

If someone is being physically abused, they will most likely have bruises or bodily injuries associated with being punched, choked, or knocked down, as well as a weak or inconsistent account for their injuries.

The following are some signs of physical abuse:

  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • Bruises on the arms
  • Swollen lips
  • Neck markings that are red or purple
  • Wrist sprains

It’s also not uncommon for people to try to hide physical signs with clothing. In the summer, for example, you may observe that someone you care about is wearing long sleeves or scarves. Wearing more cosmetics than usual or wearing sunglasses inside are also signs of an abusive relationship.

Psychologically Abusive Relationship Signs

A psychologically abusive relationship isn’t always as obvious as one that is physically abusive. When attempting to detect a mentally abusive relationship, there are some signs to look for.

1. Controlling Behavior, Possessiveness, and Jealousy

Jealousy is a common trait among psychologically abusive partners. They put a good spin on their possessive feelings. In an abusive relationship, though, jealousy can escalate into dominating behavior.

2. Gaslighting and Shifting Blame

When a psychologically abusive partner makes you doubt your own reality and sanity, this is known as gaslighting. Psychologically abusive partners, for example, may blame you for their own negative habits. They may unjustly blame you for upsetting them and for how they treat you.

3. Manipulation and Ultimatums

Psychologically abusive people may try to manipulate their relationships in a variety of ways. If you try to stop the relationship, they may threaten death, self-harm, or injure someone else. They could also threaten you with blackmail. This is almost always an attempt to keep you from leaving.

4. Embarrassed by Your Partner’s Treatment of You

Being in a mentally abusive relationship can be embarrassing for some people. This drives individuals to withdraw even further from their friends and family. A warning sign of a psychologically abusive relationship is not wanting others to see how your partner abuses you.

5. Using Emotional Distancing as a Form of Punishment

People who emotionally abuse others frequently utilize “silent treatment” or emotional separation as a form of punishment. After a quarrel, when a partner refuses to talk to you or, in some situations, even recognizes you, this is known as silent treatment. A spouse may still talk to you but act emotionally distant, treating you more like a friend than a love partner in some circumstances.

What is Abusive Relationship Signs

Abuse in a relationship is a term that refers to any situation in which one person has undue power and control over the other. Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, financial, or any other conduct that keeps one person under the control of another.

While there are many common characteristics in abusive relationships, each one is unique. It’s also common for people in abusive relationships to be unaware that they’re in one. One of the most typical features of an abusive relationship is the abusive partner’s insistence that what they’re doing is normal and not damaging, making it difficult for the victim to comprehend their predicament.

There is no one who is unaffected by abuse or incapable of becoming an abuser. Abuse can affect people of any ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Also, it’s always the abuser’s fault; abuse is always the abuser’s responsibility.

Identifying the Signs of an Abusive Relationship

If you’re in an abusive relationship, the greatest thing you can do is leave your violent partner. It’s crucial to have a plan in place because this can be frightening. Before you go, figure out where you’re going and inform your friends or family that you’ll be leaving your spouse. You can also seek assistance from local services if you require a place to stay or assistance in regaining your footing.


It’s a sensitive subject to assist someone who has been the victim of abusive relationship signs. You can feel more comfortable lending a sympathetic ear and grabbing the opportunity to aid a victim of an abusive relationship or violence if you learn some of the warning signs.

If you’re in an abusive relationship and recognize any of these signs, realize that it’s not your fault. You are not alone, and assistance is readily available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 5 emotional abuse examples?

Emotional abuse can take the form of one or more of the following: shouting at you, insulting you, or swearing at you are all examples of verbal abuse. Rejection: Rejecting your own thoughts, ideas, and opinions on a regular basis. Gaslighting is when someone manipulates the truth to make you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity.

What is a symptom of abuse?

Physical Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Bruising on multiple occasions. Fractures. Burns. Sores. Fear.

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