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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.


Do you:

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

Does your partner:

  • Does he/she humiliate or yell at you?
  • Does he/she criticize you and put you down?
  • Does he/she treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see
  • Does he/she ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • Does he/she blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • Does he/she see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Physical Abuse and Domestic Violence

When people talk about domestic violence, they are often referring to the physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.

Sexual Abuse is a Form of Physical Abuse

Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.


The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.

The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship.
Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.

The physical assaults stopped when you became
and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!

There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted.
This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand

Emotional abuse: It’s a bigger problem than you think When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.


  • The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.
  • Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want. 
  • You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so.


  • A subtle form of emotional abuse.  Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so.
  • Economic or financial abuse includes: Rigidly controlling your finances. Withholding money or credit cards. Making you account for every penny you spend. Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Restricting you to an allowance.
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)
  • Stealing from you or taking your money. Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

 Source: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska