Signs of an Abusive Relationship

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.



Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings

Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior

Do you:

  1. feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  2. avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  3. feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  4. believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  5. wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  6. feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  1. humiliate or yell at you?
  2. criticize you and put you down?
  3. treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  4. ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  5. blame you for his/her own abusive behavior?
  6. see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:

  1. have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  2. hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  3. threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  4. threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  5. force you to have sex?
  6. destroy your belongings?

Does your partner:

  1. act excessively jealous and possessive?
  2. control where you go or what you do?
  3. keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  4. limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  5. constantly check up on you?

Signs that the Abuser is NOT Changing


  1. Minimizes the abuse or denies how serious it really was.
  2. Continues to blame others for the abusive behavior.
  3. Claims that you’re the one who is abusive.
  4. Pressures you to go to couple’s counseling.
  5. Tells you that you owe him/her another chance.
  6. Says that change is dependent on your staying with and supporting him/her
  7. Tries to get sympathy from you, your children, or your family and friends.
  8. Expects something from you in exchange for getting help.
  9. Pressures you to make decisions about the relationship.
  10. Remains in treatment only at your urging.

If You are Being Abused, Remember:

  1. You are not to blame for being battered or mistreated.
  2. You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior.
  3. You deserve to be treated with respect.
  4. You deserve a safe and happy life.
  5. Your children deserve a safe and happy life.
  6. You are not alone. There are people waiting to help.