If you’re in an abusive relationship, it can be challenging to see the signs. Abuse can come in many forms, and often abusers will try to hide their behavior from friends and family. Many times, my patients think they’re not in an abusive relationship just because their partner has not hit them.

However, domestic violence (or interpersonal violence) is technically defined as:  a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. This can be done via multiple ways, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial.

There are some signs to look for when it comes to abuse. This article will discuss some of the most common signs of abuse. If any of these things sound familiar, please reach out for help! You are not alone.

Signs You Might Be in an Abusive Relationship

1. If your partner is always asking who you’re with, this might be a sign of abuse. He also might be extremely jealous of other people with whom you spend your time. This is called “monitoring,” and it’s a way for abusers to control their victim’s behavior.

2. Your partner constantly puts you down or makes fun of you, especially in public. This is a way for abusers to make their victims feel small and powerless.

3. If your partner tries to prohibit you from seeing friends and family, this could be a sign of abuse. It is called “isolating,” and it’s a way for abusers to control who their victims see and talk to.

4. If your partner is excessively possessive or jealous, you might be in an abusive relationship. Possessiveness is a way for abusers to control their victim’s behavior.

5. If your partner has ever hit or threatened to hit you, this is unacceptable. When your partner hits or threatens to harm you (or your children or pets), it’s a surefire sign of physical and emotional abuse.

6. Your partner controls the household finances. This could look like making major purchases without your agreement, restricting your access to money for necessary expenses, or even taking your money. This is quite common in women I see, and they are usually surprised when they hear that this kind of behavior is financial abuse.

7. If your partner threatens to take the kids from you or insults your parenting, this could also be abuse. Abusers use this as a tactic to instill fear in their victims and convince them to stay in the relationship.

Tips to Help

First and foremost, it’s important to know that you are not alone, and that you have not done anything to deserve this kind of mistreatment.

1. Only talk to someone you trust. Your safety is the most important thing. Discuss your situation with a therapist or doctor if you’re too nervous to confide in friends and family. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) can provide you with care and support via phone, text, or online chat.

2. Create a safety plan. If you’re in danger, it’s important to have a plan to get out of the situation safely. It might include having a safe place to go, packing a bag ahead of time, or telling someone you trust what’s going on.

3. Get help from a domestic violence shelter. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911 or get to a safe place away from your abuser. There are also many domestic violence helplines and organizations that can help you with resources and support. In Kentucky, the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence lists multiple resources for help, included where to find legal help.

4. Speak with a therapist. Being in an abusive relationship can feel confusing because of the psychological manipulation that is used to create fear and emotional disorientation in the victim. If you need support, I am always happy to help. Please call me to learn about my psychiatry+therapy services for relationship issues.