Abusive Relationships: Identifying Them & Breaking Free

Abusive RelationshipsNo one plans to enter into abusive relationships yet somehow men and women alike find themselves in relationships that are either physically or verbally abusive, or both. It is a vicious cycle that often replays over and over until they realize the relationship is doing more harm than good.

It is easy for those of us who have never experienced abusive relationships to judge others and tell them to ‘just leave’ but it’s not quite that simple. Being in an abusive relationship isn’t as easy to identify as you may think due to the psychological component that makes the person being abusive believe it is some flaw in them causing the abuse.

But easier than getting out of abusive relationships, is identifying the signs of one and getting out before the situation escalates. Getting out of a potentially abusive relationship is easier than getting out of one where abuse is already a daily occurrence.

Excessive Jealousy/Possessiveness

We all experience a certain level of jealousy, particularly if our partner spends time with someone who hits our personal insecurities. Most of us simply experience a small pang of jealousy or unease that flashes bright and disappears just as quickly.

But in abusive relationships this jealousy often morphs into possessiveness that rears its head in pretty ugly ways. If your partner does any of the following you are likely in the early days of an abusive relationship:

  • Accuses you of cheating
  • Calls or texts constantly and gets angry if you don’t answer
  • Shows up at your job or friend’s house unexpectedly
  • Treats your friends of the opposite sex openly hostile
  • Gets angry when you talk on the phone to friends & family

You’re Isolated

Isolation is a staple of abusive relationships because it makes it difficult to talk to anyone else about the abuse you’re enduring. Whether physical or verbal, isolation is just another form of control.

Do you find that you are spending less and less time with your family and friends? Do you talk to them less often than you did before you met your partner? This is how isolation begins in abusive relationships until one day your mobile phone mysteriously breaks and your partner comes up with tons of reasons why you can’t get a replacement. Slowly, but surely you will find yourself without a phone, limited use of a vehicle and eventually, no job.

With the trifecta complete you will feel helpless and as though your partner is the only person on whom you can rely. This makes it virtually impossible to break free of an abusive relationship.

Always At Fault

Another behavior prevalent among abusers is that they are never at fault…for anything. Do you find that your partner blames their bad mood on you as well as their bad behavior? In abusive relationships the abuser often finds ways to make you feel as though you are at fault for every bad thing that happens to them. Whether it is losing a job, getting a flat tire or hitting you, the blame lies solely with you.

Threats Of Violence

Most people think that a threat of violence is just a way to release anger or tension, and for most of us it is. But in abusive relationships these threats are very real. If you have experienced moments that feel like red flags, take these threats of violence seriously.

Your partner may brush off these threats as “joking” or tell you they “really didn’t mean it” but you should trust yourself; you know the difference between a joke and a threat. If the threat feels real…it probably is.

Strict Gender Roles

This is very common in abusive relationships, particularly those where the woman is being abused.  Your partner expects you to serve him, obey him and stay at home like a “good little woman”.

If you notice that your partner is slowly whittling away your independence and placing you back in the role of a woman in the 1950s, chances are good you will soon experience other red flags on this list.

They’re Angry At The World

This marker of abusive relationships could be coupled with the ‘always at fault’ red flag because they often work together. Someone who blames other people for the bad in their lives are always angry. They feel they have been dealt an unfair hand in life, which is part of the reason they are an abuser, and takes every opportunity to remind the world of their anger by lashing out.

What you first thought was just a grumpy person down on their luck, is actually someone in search of a punching bag for their anger.


Do you find that your partner can dish out insults and can find dozens of opportunities to criticize you by is easily insulted by the most harmless statement? People in abusive relationships are often skittish because a simple question about where the milk is can send a hypersensitive abuser into a rant.

The good news is that this is a red flag that will be clear to see very early in a relationship. If you make an innocuous statement like “I told you we should have left earlier” and your partner feels insulted and strikes back harder than necessary, this is a preview of worse behaviors to come.

These are all red flags that your relationship is abusive or is quickly become abusive.

How To Leave Abusive Relationships

One of the hallmarks of abusive relationships is that the person being abused feels afraid to break up with their abuser. The first few steps you need to take to get out of your relationship include actually breaking free from your partner. Only then can you start to fix the issues that led you to being in this type of relationship.

Below is a list of things you need to end abusive relationships;

  • Acknowledge that you are being abused
  • Reach out – to family, friends, law enforcement or an organization like the National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Make plans ahead of time so you have a place to stay, a way to leave, help leaving and a time to leave when it’s safe
  • Get an order of protection (if necessary)
  • Do not return to your abuser or their home, for any reason
  • Change all passwords, PINs and phone numbers
  • Get help so you avoid abusive relationships in the future

Most of all remember; it is not your fault.

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