Abusive Relationships: 15 Warning Signs

In a perfect world, we could count on our family to be there for us, to protect us, and to always have our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, our world is far from perfect. Family members aren’t always there for us the way we need them to be. Sometimes, they are even the primary sources of our biggest traumas.

Domestic violence is undoubtedly one of the most heart-breaking crimes in the world. Many people think of sexual violence as something that takes place between strangers or perhaps acquaintances, but the truth is that most victims are closely related to their attackers. It happens far, far more frequently than any of us would like to admit – in the United States alone, an average of 20 people are physically abused every minute (Source: NCADV.org).


Domestic Violence in the United States

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a month designed to raise awareness of the horrendous crimes taking place in our society every day, a month to join forces in an attempt to put an end to domestic violence in the States and across the world. Last October, I wrote a blog revealing ten shocking statistics about domestic violence. This year, I am working to break the silence by discussing some common warning signs of an abusive relationship.

All relationships are unique, and every dynamic is a little bit different. However, most abusive relationships share certain patterns, and if you know what to look for, it is often possible to recognize relationships where abuse is (or could soon be) taking place. It is important to remember that abuse is not always physical – psychological and emotional abuse can also leave lasting scars. Emotional abusers may also be more likely to be physically abusive later on (though this is not always the case).

My hope is that by familiarizing yourself with these warning signs, you can avoid falling victim to domestic violence personally and help any friends or family members who may be at risk.

Warning Signs Of An Abusive Relationship

Before discussing the warning signs, I want to address an important fact: anyone can be an abuser in a relationship, and anyone can be a victim. The roles are not limited to male abusers and female victims. Because male abusers are much more common, however, I am going to discuss the warning signs from that perspective. Please understand that I am simply addressing the majority; I am in no way assuming that men are always to blame.

Here are fifteen common warning signs that a partner is already being abusive (or could likely become abusive in the future).

  1. Your partner needs to know where you are and who you are with at all times.
  2. You partner checks up on you constantly, either by calling you or sending someone to check on you.
  3. Your partner calls you names or refers to you in a derogatory manner.
  4. Your partner controls how you dress.
  5. Your partner tells you who you can and who you cannot be friends with.
  6. Your partner drinks frequently, and becomes belligerent when he does.
  7. Your partner makes fun of you or puts you down, and plays it off as teasing.
  8. Your partner isolates you from your other family members.
  9. Your partner demands sex or sexual acts, even if you don’t want to do it.
  10. Your partner ensures that you remain financially dependent.
  11. Your partner goes through your phone regularly.
  12. Your partner displays signs of physical aggression, such as hitting walls or abusing your pets.
  13. Your partner threatens suicide or violence if you attempt to leave.
  14. Your partner blows up unexpectedly, causing you to feel as if you are navigating a minefield.
  15. Your partner blames you for his moods and/or behavior.

Not all abusers display all of these signs, but if you notice someone displaying a few of these behaviors on a regular basis, he/she may be more likely to be abusive.

End The Silence

It is a gut-wrenching topic, one that no one wants to discuss. However, by avoiding the topic and turning a blind eye, the pattern only continues. Too many women, children, and men are victimized by their domestic partners and other family members on a daily basis. In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I implore you to help me End The Silence. If you or someone you know is in (or at risk for being in) an abusive relationship, please reach out.

In my experience as a licensed online counselor, I have worked with several individuals who have been victims of domestic violence. Together, we have worked to overcome the emotional and psychological scars caused by the abuse. In time, they have developed the strength and confidence needed to overcome their challenges. If you know someone else who may benefit from online therapy sessions, I would be honored to serve them.


Samantha M. Ruth, Transformational Psychologist
Online Therapy… Your Therapy, Your Way!
Call: 248-730-5544
Samantha@NeverGiveUp.Care
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By | 2016-10-18T16:11:00+00:00 October 18th, 2016|