Signs of an Abusive Relationship

An abusive relationship exists when one person suffers either emotional or physical duress at the hands of their partner. In some relationships the abuse can be both physical and emotional. Whether the abuse is physical, emotional or both, it can have a long term, adverse effect on the victim. These are just some of the signs of an abusive relationship.


At the beginning of a relationship, everything is usually good, with no signs of the abuse to come. However, as the relationship progresses, one partner may find that they are dominated by the other, as the latter controls and dictates what happens within the relationship. And it’s not necessarily just for major decisions – the abusive partner wants to control all aspects of the couple’s life together. The abused partner ends up in a situation where they are constantly trying to please their partner, but never succeeding. All their suggestions and opinions are the wrong ones.

Social restriction

Abusers like to keep their victims under control at all times, and one way in which they seek to do this is by preventing their partner from having any sort of social life. They veto invitations, and may try to break up friendships so that the abused partner has nobody to turn to. While the abusive partner may accept invitations where they feel they can be in control of the situation, this is not helpful to the abused partner, who is likely to feel isolated and withdrawn.

Constant mood swings

If one partner constantly and quickly changes mood for no good reason, an abusive relationship is likely. In such a situation, it is impossible to please the abusive partner, no matter how hard the abused individual tries. Just as the abused partner thinks everything is going smoothly, the mood changes, and they find they are in the wrong. So they change tack to please their partner, but he or she changes as well. Whatever the victim’s prevailing mood may be, the abusive partner’s mood will quickly and deliberately change to be diametrically opposed.

The problem with abusive relationships is that the innocent partner rarely realizes what they are involved in until it is too late. Abusers do not come with an identification label. They can be charming when they choose to be, so the dark reality of what lies behind the smile and the perfect manners may be very well hidden.

Once an abusive relationship starts, it can be difficult to extricate the victim as physical and emotional abuse erodes self-esteem. Frequently, they feel that the difficulties are their fault, because the abusive partner has convinced them that they are the one with the problem. It is also unlikely that a victim will be able to persuade their partner to seek help as abusers rarely see that they are doing anything wrong.

Sadly, if you find yourself in an abusive relationship, the only thing you can do is work to end it. For that, you will need to find inner strength, and harness the support of friends and family. It is not easy to escape from an abusive relationship, but it is possible.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship and need help to figure out your next step, or just have questions and need someone to talk to, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Trained advocates are available to take your calls 24/7. -by Jackie K.