The 7 Signs Of An Abusive Relationship

14 Jul 2015

How do you know when you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship?  Most likely, you don’t,- for the longest long time.  All you do know is that something is terribly wrong.  Unfortunately, nobody has ever taught you to recognise the 7 tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship.

Over time you become more confused , hurt and unhappy  as the relationship you’re in  moves further and further away from your hopes and dreams.   You may not know quite how it happened, or what you can do to turn things around, but you’re very aware that  the relationship has become  quite different from the one you thought you’d signed up for.

Your partner, too, has become more and more unlike the man you fell in love with. Physically, he probably looks much the same (except when his face is contorted by fury).  But emotionally this person is unrecognisable: he’s gone from loving you to treating you like his enemy.

If you’ve ever looked at your relationship, and your partner, in disbelief and wondered what on earth happened, that’s already a strong indication that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. But let’s look more closely at the 7 tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship as they play out in your inner world.

Abusive Relationship Sign #1   You just don’t understand.  It’s almost as if you have fetched up in a parallel universe whose rules you don’t know and have no means of learning. You’re constantly trying to make sense of things that make no sense, at all, to you.  That alone should be proof that the situation is terribly wrong – or more correctly terribly skewed  – against you.

Abusive Relationship Sign #2 You don’t know this person who is making you so miserable  That’s absolutely right, you don’t. This is not the man you thought you were having a relationship with.  But you would do better trusting his behaviour than your hopes to  reveal  the truth of the situation to you. This is Life telling you, “The honeymoon is over, baby! He’s thoroughly nasty and if you stick around you’re just going to have to suck it up.” Whatever your fantasy, this is the reality.

Abusive Relationship Sign #3 You’re walking on egg-shells This is not just a key sign of an abusive relationship, it’s something that will, likely, remain with you long after he’s gone from your life. An emotionally abusive partner – consciously or unconsciously  – establishes a reign of terror over your life.  You’re meant to feel frightened of bad things happening  out of the blue – the technical term is he has you ‘walking on eggshells’.  Keeping you terrified is his best way of maintaining absolute power over you. That’s his agenda.

Abusive Relationship Sign #4 You give up on yourself.  This is NOT a normal response to difficulties, but it is a normal response to the kind of constant brainwashing and emotional torture he puts you through.  Giving up on yourself is just your mind’s way of telling you: “I can’t take any more.” It’s a sign that you need to get out, not give up.  Since he’s the one who makes you feel so bad, when you get him out of your system you can expect to start feeling a whole lot better.

Abusive Relationship Sign #5 You have a constant downer on yourself. I have never yet heard an emotionally abused woman tell me about the things she’s got going for her.  Instead, I hear a litany of faults, weaknesses, and failures – all of which Mr Nasty has fed into you over time.  There is nothing about you that deserves the shockingly harsh way you  judge yourself.  If you think about yourself in more damning terms than you would think about your child, that’s conclusive proof that your emotionally abusive partner has smashed your self-belief.  You don’t have to have that downer on yourself.  That downer is the biggest thing getting in the way of you having a life worth living. The good news is that self-belief can always be rebuilt.

Abusive Relationship Sign #6 You tell yourself your partner is wonderful.  This makes no sense at all.  If he was half-way wonderful, you wouldn’t be feeling like … let’s just say an unpleasant substance under his shoe. Wonderful people don’t  hurt and humiliate the living daylights out of their partner.  You tell yourself – and, maybe, the world, too  – how good he is and your heart (which doesn’t lie) sinks. Being with someone who is truly wonderful lifts your heart.

Abusive Relationship Sign #7 You feel like Sisyphus –  forever labouring to push a heavy boulder up a mountainside, only to have it roll back down, so you have to start again.  If you feel constantly drained, and stretched to the limit by your efforts to hold the relationship together, then Mr Nasty’s strategy is working nicely. There is only room for one person’s happiness in an emotionally abusive relationship; that person is not you.

These 7 Signs of an Abusive Relationship are not meant to make you feel worse than you feel already. Rather, they are intended to help you understand why you cannot make your relationship any better than  it is.  Quite simply, you have not failed; your partner has failed to buy into a healthy relationship.  The 7 Signs of an Abusive relationship are your wake-up call. You deserve a far better life than you have now.  You just have to choose between having a life and having an emotionally abusive relationship.  You can’t have both.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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