12 Red Flags Of An Abusive Relationship

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An abusive relationship takes you through traumatic experiences. Red flags of an abusive relationship should not be ignored. Abuse in a relationship is not only physical. It can be verbal, emotional, psychological, or even sexual coercion. But many fail to notice these red flags early. If you think you are in an abusive relationship, it is better to get out of the relationship as early as possible for the sake of your physical and emotional wellbeing. You don’t have to put up with an abusive partner thinking that things will get better with time. In this post, we talk about the red flags of an abusive relationship and how to deal with them.

12 Red Flags In An Abusive Relationship

Abusive people may alienate themselves from their close ones, making it difficult for them to acknowledge abuse. These warning signs can help victims become aware of their situation and seek the necessary support.

1. Controlling behavior

Showing concern for your partner’s well-being is not the same as obsessively keeping tabs on them. Constantly checking on partner’s whereabouts is a huge red flag. Actions such as continuously texting and calling every time the partner is away, snooping through their phones and social media accounts, dropping by without warning to a place their partner might be, are key signs of controlling behavior.

2. Blame games

Abusers never take responsibility for their actions. Everything wrong in their lives is due to somebody else. They always have an excuse and transfer the blame to their partner or other people in their lives. Whenever there is a fight, instead of accepting their fair share of fault, they blame their partner for the entire situation. Even if they started screaming and ranting, they claim it’s their partner’s fault for provoking them.

3. Badmouthing exes

While people sometimes get involved in wrong relationships, it is highly unlikely that their exes were bad. Calling almost all exes names such as crazy, psycho, obsessed, or vilifying their character is a red flag. Most likely, they are the ones who are problematic. Abusers tend to show their exes in a bad light to gain your sympathy and show how nice they are. Some may also have a history of abusive relationships.

4. Excessive jealousy

While jealousy is often regarded as a sign of love, extreme jealousy is toxic for relationships. People who are insecure and possessive about their partners get excessively jealous. They may often accuse their partners of flirting or cheating.

If the partner interacts with a person of the opposite sex for any reason, abusers can get extremely angry and start a fight. They may constantly question whom their partner is with and whom they are speaking to. Partners in potentially abusive relationships may often feel under a scanner and experience anxiety while speaking to people of the opposite gender.

5. Quick progression in the relationship

Abusive partners tend to move at a fast pace in a relationship. They want to have their partner under control as soon as possible, so they tend to move through the relationship stages quickly. For example, they might confess to loving you in a short time and then demand more physical intimacy.

It is also common to experience pressure from abusers for commitment. For an instant, they might demand “moving in” or “marriage” early on in the relationship. Abusers might try emotional blackmail to achieve their objective using statements such as, “If you love me you would agree to this,” “You are the only one for me so don’t turn me down.” 

6. Cutting off from friends and family

Abusers tend to isolate their victims from their well-wishers to keep them under their thumbs. It is a strategy to exert more dominance and remove any possibility of help. They would start by showing disapproval regarding certain close friends or relatives and slowly push them out of their partner’s lives.

Tactics such as instigating their partners against their well-wishers, making them look bad, forcing you to spend time with them rather than anyone else, and belittling their partners for contacting their well-wishers, might be used by the abusive person.

7. Putting their partner down

While it is normal that a person has an opinion about their partner’s decision or choices, judging and belittling every move they make is not healthy. Abusive partners may attempt to put their partner down by insulting their intelligence, attacking their capabilities, and unfavorably comparing them to others. If their partner retaliates, they might manipulate them, indicating feedback for their own good. They slowly break down their partner’s self-confidence to assert their dominance and ensure the partner doesn’t try to get away from them.

8. Physical force and coercion in sex

This is a huge red flag of an abusive relationship. An abuser may subtly or directly force their partner to perform certain sexual acts without their consent. They may use force during sex, such as holding their partner down or tying them against their will. Even if the partner is not in the mood, they might emotionally blackmail, pressurize, or threaten them. They may demean their partner by saying things such as, “You are so lovely,” or “You are lucky I want you.”

9. Violent behavior

Abusers may use violence to establish their dominance and power in a relationship. The behavior usually begins with verbal threats such as, “You deserve a tight slap” and may escalate to physically harmful behavior. They may intimidate their partner by throwing things or banging their fists against the wall or table. Actions like shoving their partners, restraining them in any way, and locking them in rooms are classic prerequisites of physical abuse.

10. Constantly shifting moods

People who constantly blow hot and cold in relationships can be toxic. They may act all sweet and nice toward you one moment and become nasty and angry the next moment. Good behavior might most likely be shown in public while being verbally abusive behind closed doors. They may apologize after their outbursts and behave nicely for a while. Eventually, their mean streak might raise its ugly head. If your partner shows such fluctuating behavior regularly, it is a massive red flag of a potentially abusive relationship.

11. Cruel behavior

An abuser might try to hide their true face. However, once in a while, their partner will be exposed to their toxic personality. Abusers might show disregard for the suffering of animals. Violence toward animals, such as kicking them, punishing them harshly, might also be observed. Small children might also have to face their wrath. They might harass unnecessarily, screaming, bullying, or teasing.

12. Easily offended

Abusive personalities have a superiority complex and massive ego. They might criticize and look down on people around them but get angry if anyone criticizes them. The slightest provocation may set them off as they take everything personally. Even small incidents in their lives cause them to rage and crib for days. If their partner points out any problem in their behavior, they get hurt easily. Instead of taking the feedback constructively, they might try to humiliate their partner or give the silent treatment.

Abusive partners are manipulative and can break self-confidence, leading the victim to believe that they are overreacting or at fault. These red flags strongly indicate a potentially abusive relationship. If your partner has been showing any of the warning signs, don’t hesitate to reach out to your loved ones. You can also connect to the domestic violence helpline, if need be.

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Siddharth Kesiraju

Siddharth holds a master's degree in communication and journalism from the University of Hyderabad. He has around six years of experience in various fields of writing and editing. As an associate editor at MomJunction, Siddharth edits and ensures the articles are aligned with the website's editorial standards. Having done a certification course in Relationship Coaching, he also writes on Relationships.... more