As Sandy walked into my office for her Tuesday morning therapy appointment, she sunk down into a chair with her head hung low. When she finally looked up a tear rolled down the left side of her face. The room filled with a quiet sadness.
Many times clients don’t have to say anything at all. You can see it in their eyes. You can feel their pain as it fills the room.
After handing Sandy a box of tissue, I waited for her to speak. I didn’t need to say anything right away- she knew I was emotionally present and I sensed that was what she really needed at the moment.
When she finally began to speak she told me things that she had never shared before. She told me about Ted’s temper and about his humiliating personal attacks. Sandy explained how nervous she often felt in his presence. She spoke about his jealously and his accusations. Sandy discussed her confusion- feeling intensely loved and extremely hurt and worn down all at the same time. She was full of self-doubt and convinced that she was partially to blame for his explosions.
Sandy was carrying the shame, the confusion, and the pain that goes along with being in any kind of abusive relationship. Because the abuse she was dealing with had not yet become physical, it was more difficult for her to identify but no less damaging to her soul.
Many people, both men and women, are victims of abuse. Sometimes they are so conditioned to the treatment that they don’t even know they are being abused. They either believe they deserve such treatment or have never experienced healthy relationships. Although some abusive relationships have an abuser and a victim, many times both partners are abusive towards each other.
Below you will find 15 signs that you might be in an abusive relationship.
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15 Signs of an Abusive Relationship
You feel belittled, humiliated, or personally attacked by your partner. Your partner calls you names or attacks your character. He or she may use sarcasm or say that they are joking, but you feel really hurt.
You sometimes feel anxious or nervous when you are around your partner.
There is always an excuse for your partner’s behavior (including blaming you).
You watch what you are doing to avoid making your partner upset. You feel like you are walking on eggshells.
Your partner uses intimate disclosures against you and throws a secret you told him or her back in your face.
You are accused of things you have not done.
Your partner checks up on what you have been doing when you feel like you have done nothing wrong.
Your partner is extremely jealous and wants you all to him or herself. Having any kind of life outside of the relationship feels threatening to your partner. He or she may even resent your friends and your aspirations.
Your partner criticizes you in front of others.
You are afraid to express a different opinion than your partner so it is easier to keep your mouth shut.
Your partner says that if you leave, he or she will hurt you or him or herself.
You try to please your partner to avoid being hurt physically or emotionally.
When your partner is upset with you, he or she withholds love and affection for a prolonged period of time (the silent treatment).
You notice a cycle. Tension builds, abusive reaction, partner expresses remorse or minimizes abuse, partner is kind and loving, tension builds, abusive reaction…
Your partner alienates you from family and friends.
If any of these signs exist in your relationship, please seek out a mental health professional as soon as possible. You deserve to be treated with respect 100% of the time. Disagreements are part of healthy relationships. But they are always met with respect and goodwill.
Related post: 20 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
Educate yourself on healthy relationships. You are worth it!
This post was written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, MEd, MSW, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and author of The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life.