Relationship Abuse Signs

There are many relationship abuse signs that should act like an alarm call for you. Wake up! Get ready, and get the hell out!

Imagine yourself, having prepared an amazing meal for your partner. They ask you why you left the fat on the meat?

You feel hurt, but think "how could I forget they like the fat cut off" and blame yourself. 

Next day you take off the fat, but this time the meat is overcooked. You know it isn't, but you blame yourself again. 

The next day, you burn the garlic in the pan while you are cooking.

This was the very last thing one 21 year old woman did before attempting to stop her husband attacking her with a sharp kitchen knife. He killed her. Leaving her with horrific defence injuries on her hands and fingers. A sign of brutal relationship abuse.

Raise Awareness

We are not suggesting that every little argument, disagreement, hurtful comment, or unfriendly behaviour is a sign of relationship abuse. We are certainly not suggesting that you should brand your partner as an abuser. 

However, Relationship Abuse does leave clues. You should be aware of these relationship abuse signs and patterns to prepare yourself and understand why you may be feeling the way you do. Learn more about patterns of relationship abuse.

It really isn't your fault, but it is your responsibility, and we share this with you to help you regain control and take responsibility for you, and your family. 


Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. More often than not, Power and Control is a clear motive. Everybody has a basic human need to feel significant in our lives, but everybody has different resources and ways of achieving it.

They will make irrational decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, what to wear, what to watch on TV, where to shop, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession.

This is not just a you say tomayto and I say tomarto situation. This is I say tomayto and if I hear you say tomarto just one more time, I'll cut your tongue out!

Do feel there is a good "balance of power" in your relationship, or is it significantly tipped against you?


An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way.

After all, if you believe you're worthless and that no one else will want you, you're less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless. There is also the socialisation process and identity impact. The people you hang out with most are who you become like the most. Lie down with dogs, come up with fleas. 

If you are suffering constant put downs, it could be a sign of relationship abuse. You could discuss it with your partner if you feel able, or a friend, or your coach. You should be paying attention to where the relationship is heading.

Of course there is a fine line between humour and playfulness, and relationship abuse. Has your partner crossed the line? 


In order to increase your dependence your abusive partner, they will cut you off from the outside world. This might be a slow process over a period of time, but the result is the same. You have no one to turn to. 

He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask their permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.

A relationship abuse sign of isolation is constant clock watching whenever you do anything. How long does it take to shop, fill the car with petrol, go to the toilet. The abuser may be making sure you dont take to long to "chat" because you might just give the game away, might you? 

Do they check your diary, read your phone messages, interrogate you about your contacts? Are there other relationship abuse signs that are making you feel isolated?

Social Media is also a huge source of relationship abuse. Abusers use these sites to stalk, harass, intimidate, and threaeten their victims, and the fear is significant. Whilst is really easy and seems obvious to say "Stop using them then" the impact is further isolation. Social media is often the only way some people stay in contact with the outside world. Just like the surgeons scalpel, social media isnt the real problem. It's just how it gets used.

When was the last time you socialised with family or friends, or just had some quality "you time"? Is this a sign of relationship abuse?


Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges, or stopping other legal action. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or even kill you. The threats don't stop with harm to you. They can threaten you through your children, other family members, or even pets.

He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, or start self harming in some other way. 

If you feel threatened on a frequent basis consider this as one of the relationship abuse signs you ought to be paying more attention to. You really should be looking for support to either tackle this issue with your partner or protect yourself. 

The threats can swing on a scale from idle to immediate. You know how you feel. Don't you? How many more threats can you take?


Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. OK, so now we are talking relationship abuse signs to be seriously concerned about!

Choking, or strangulation is a clear signal of this type of abusive behaviour. The point of choking or strangulation is to restrict the air passages, leading to blackout and even death. But most abusers use this as a means of establishing power and control. The message is clear. "I can take your life any time I'd like to." 

Research by the Family Justice Centre in America showed there was a link between relationship homicides and police records of choking in domestic violence incidents between the couple.

The clear message is that if you don't obey, there will be violent, potentially  fatal consequences. If you are aware  of any of these relationship abuse signs that leave you feeling intimidated you must talk to someone about it, before the abuse becomes a cycle. 

This type of abuse is notoriously difficult to investigate because of the absence of tangible evidence. There are no witnesses. No marks. Your word against theirs. But you must protect yourself and tell a friend, a support worker, a lawyer, or even the police. Get the incident recorded. Get help. Get out.

Denial and blame

Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable.

One of the classic relationship abuse signs is attracting sympathy. They will blame their abusive and violent behaviour on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. It's harder to fear an abuser who appears vulnerable. You may even want to help them through their pain.

Your abusive partner may minimise the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is your fault.

This can lead to confusion and prevent you from taken action that you should really be taking. 

Have you ever threatened your partner with leaving them and they responded in this way? Did it stop you? Have you read about the patterns of relationship abuse?

Emotional Blackmail

Has your partner ever threatened to expose you in some way? To your friend, your family, or even your employer? Maybe your current career or even your business could be in jeopardy if your partner made certain revelations. 

Look at the media for example. Celebrity relationships are a constant source of entertainment, but there are real people experiencing real relationship abuse. Why do people crave these private, intimate stories that ruin peoples lives?

If you are a celebrity, this could be a real issue for you, and you have to consider the pain of staying in an abusive relationship compared to the pain of being front page news.

Using the children as leverage is another way of making threats land powerfully. The children may be the one thing you care about most in the world so any threat of taking them away, or even hurting them, not feeding them, or just not caring for them has to be taken seriously.

This is manipulative, power and control at its worst and if you have experienced this, it really is time to get support and get your life back. If not for you, do it for your children, because they feel your pain, your emotion and they deserve a better lesson to learn from. 

Action Steps...

Next Steps:

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