How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

  1. Am I Emotionally Abusive? How To Know If The Abuser In Your Relationship Is You
  2. Abusers seldom stop to ask themselves, «Am I emotionally abusive?»
  3. Here are 24 possible signs you are now, or may have been, emotionally abusive in relationships:
  4. How To Tell If You’re In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
  5. A Perfect Start
  6. No Space Allowed
  7. Irrational Jealousy
  8. Unpredictable Affection
  9. Shifting the Blame
  10. Put-downs
  11. Putting on an Act
  12. The Guilt Trip
  13. Am I an abuser?
  14. Mental / emotional abuse
  15. Threatening behaviours
  16. Intimidation and isolation
  17. Psychological abuse
  18. Financial abuse
  19. Sexual abuse
  20. Violence / physical abuse
  21. violence
  22. How does my behaviour affect children around me?
  23. Are you hurting the one you love?
  24. Am I Abusive? How to Know if You Are an Abusive Spouse
  25. How to know if you are an abusive spouse
  26. Emotional abuse exists when one partner uses emotions to shame, criticize, embarrass and manipulate the other party. When there is an eternal pattern of abusive behaviors and words, emotional abuse exists in a relationship
  27. 1. Control
  28. 2. Howling
  29. 3. Disdain
  30. 4. Always defensive
  31. 5. Threats
  32. 5 signs of an emotionally abusive woman
  33. 1. Playing the blame game
  34. 2. Gaslighting
  35. 3. Stonewalling
  36. 4. Isolation
  37. 5. Explosive attitude
  38. 15 questions to ask yourself to be sure if you are abusive
  39. Behavior partners complain about that shows you are an abusive spouse
  40. 3 Ways to Dealing with emotional abuse through self-compassion
  41. 1. Practice forgiveness
  42. 2. Talk to someone
  43. 3. Practice mindfulness
  44. Conclusion
  45. Signs of an abusive relationship
  46. This can help if:
  47. Controlling and possessive behavior
  48. Being unreasonably jealous
  49. Threats
  50. 'My partner isn’t violent all the time – they love me'
  51. 'Things will get better – they didn't mean to hurt me
  52. 'It's so confusing – I'm sure it's a one-off'
  53. 'Maybe it's my fault'
  54. 'I'm scared of what will happen if I leave them'
  55. Getting help

Am I Emotionally Abusive? How To Know If The Abuser In Your Relationship Is You

How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

Dating and relationships can be both exciting and difficult. There will always be a mixture of good times, as well as more challenging ones.

There's no denying the fact that romantic relationships are tough. All healthy relationship require work, love, respect, and commitment to maintaining all three from both partners.

These dynamics only become more challenging when any type of abuse — physical, psychological/mental/emotional, sexual or verbal — is involved.

Signs of domestic violence and emotional abuse may look different from partner to partner and relationship to relationship. And in particular, emotionally abusive relationships may not always be easy to detect, as the landmark signs of this type of abuse are often less obvious and more difficult to identify than those that indicate physical violence.

It's worth noting that emotional abuse, most types of abuse, occurs gradually, often without either the receiver or the giver of the abuse realizing that what is occurring in the relationship is abusive. Men and women a often engage in emotionally abusive behaviors against their partners without any conscious awareness they're doing so.

Abusers seldom stop to ask themselves, «Am I emotionally abusive?»

Emotional abuse in the context of romantic relationships occurs more often than one can imagine.

According to research examined in independent medical journal The Lancet, «The prevalence of exposure to emotional abuse in women can range from 9% to 70%.»

If one partner struggles with low self-esteem, grew up in a dysfunctional household, or experienced situations in which they felt powerless or devalued, they are especially ly to become controlling, manipulative and emotionally abusive in their relationships as an adult.

Individuals struggling with pronounced feelings of powerlessness in their own lives may over-compensate by becoming controlling and overly critical of others.

This is something that can happen to anyone, and therefore, every one of us has the potential to become emotionally abusive in the context of intimate relationships.

RELATED: If He Does These 7 Things, He's Silently Abusing You

There are a wide variety of causes behind emotional abuse that come from several different sources.

Reasons someone may become emotionally abusive include, but are not necessarily be limited to, the following:

  • An overwhelming need to control a partner a fear of abandonment
  • A need to feel in control and in charge in general
  • A history of low self-esteem
  • Over-compensating for feelings of inadequacy
  • Pronounced feelings of resentment for a perceived slight committed by a partner
  • A history of failed relationships or past personal failures in life

If you're questioning whether you may have been or currently are being emotionally abusive in your relationship(s), the best «test» is to take an honest look at your behaviors, as well as at the way others behave around you.

Here are 24 possible signs you are now, or may have been, emotionally abusive in relationships:

1. You are hyper-critical of your partner.

2. Your partner appears hesitant or afraid to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

3. When you and your partner have an argument, you are never wrong.

4. You use the silent treatment as a weapon or form of punishment.

5. You use things your partner told you in confidence against them at a later time.

6. You make mean-spirited jokes you know are hurtful to your partner.

7. Your partner seems anxious or nervous around you.

8. Your partner cannot make a decision without your input, either because they believe you will be upset, or because you have told them they are not «allowed» to.

RELATED: The Painful Reality Of Being Emotionally Abused By An Ex Every Day

9. You things a certain way and are unwilling to compromise.

10. You yell at your partner rather than talk to them.

11. You behave differently in public than you do when you are alone with your partner, saving your «best behavior» for others.

12. You blame your partner when things don't work out the way you envisioned or hoped.

13. You point out all of your partners flaws and faults, rarely acknowledging their many positive attributes and values.

14. You use harsh language, vulgarity, or name-calling to get your point across.

15. You belittle or berate your partner.

16. Your partner tells you that you aren’t a very nice person.

RELATED: If Answering These Questions Make You Uncomfortable, You Might Be In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

17. Your partner tells you that you're frequently «moody».

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18. You become jealous and controlling when someone else talks to your partner.

19. You feel your partner can’t do anything right.

20. You withhold intimacy and/or sex when you are unhappy with your partner.

21. Your partner has turned into a partner-pleaser, never wanting to appear as though they are disagreeing with you.

22. You never admit fault or say you're sorry for your behaviors and actions, even if you know you probably should apologize.

23. You minimize your partners concerns and feelings.

24. You gaslight your partner, making them feel «crazy» or manipulating them into believing that what they're experiencing isn't real.

As terrible as this may sound at first, it's important to recognize that emotional abuse serves a purpose for the abuser.

Their abusive behaviors and actions afford them the opportunity to feel as though they are in a position of power. This provides them with a sense of safety and comfort. counteracting the feelings of inadequacy they unconsciously harbor.

other types of abuse, emotional abuse signals an underlying issue within the abuser that hasn't yet been appropriately addressed.

Often, getting to the root cause of the abuse can help the abuser not only understand their behavior, but develop better, most positive coping skills for managing their fear of loss or abandonment, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and so on.

Individual and couples counseling can both be quite useful in effectively managing these negative feelings, improving communication skills between partners, and improving the overall health of relationships across the board.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there are resources available in your state, as well as the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).

RELATED: You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is a psychologist who focuses on relationships, dating, and personality issues, as well as a Certified Relationship Specialist with Diplomate Status, and an expert with the American Psychotherapy Association.


How To Tell If You’re In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

Oftentimes, people in emotionally abusive relationships don’t understand that they are being abused because there’s no violence involved. Many will dismiss or downplay emotional abuse because they don’t think it’s as bad as physical abuse, but this is a mistake.

Emotional abuse has major consequences and it’s often hard to recognize. This form of abuse deteriorates a person’s self-esteem, independence, and dignity.

Not only is it serious because it affects a person’s well-being and could turn fatal, but also because the person has been brainwashed to think that the behaviors are normal aspects of a relationship!

Knowing how to recognize emotionally abusive behavior is the first step to empowering yourself (and others!) should you ever find yourself in this situation. We want you to understand that these behaviors are not healthy, so we’ve put together the stages and signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

A Perfect Start

At first, many abusive relationships are actually incredibly romantic and seemingly perfect.

In the beginning, your new partner will go their way to show their attention, devotion, and affection for you. They’re charming and treat you wonderfully, and you can’t help but be lured to them.

But the romantic gestures and gifts are usually ploys to captivate you and distract from what is to come.

At first, many abusive relationships are actually incredibly romantic and seemingly perfect.Click To Tweet

The relationship moves very quickly. Proclamations of deep feelings and desires for exclusivity or a label follow. It can feel overwhelming, but also incredibly romantic and flattering.

You’re constantly texting and talking to one another; it’s you can’t get enough! They might surprise you with a visit when you’re not expecting it, and you see these things as testimonies of growing affection.

The relationship feels intense, but you excuse it because it’s love – or so you think.

No Space Allowed

At first, it’s sweet how protective they are of you and how they get a little jealous of the idea of you with anyone else. But then the protectiveness and subtle jealousies turn into possessiveness. They start to get paranoid, and they begin to require that you are always accessible.

Any time that they text or call you, they expect you to answer right away. They’re always questioning your whereabouts, who you were with, and what you did. They make excuses to justify their mistrust or dis of a classmate, friend, or family member.

They rationalize their behavior by claiming that they worry about you and are concerned for your safety. The intensity of the relationship starts to feel more smothering, with your partner growing more and more attached.

In the process, you begin to slowly lose touch with friends and family, and the relationship becomes overwhelming and exhausting.

Irrational Jealousy

Your partner’s jealousy begins to worsen, and they start to suspect that you may be disloyal or accuse you of cheating. In an effort to prove your devotion to them, you work harder to appease their fears – spending less time out with friends, cutting off communication with anyone who could be considered romantically interested, and sacrificing family gatherings to avoid conflict.

They act they’re a victim, claiming that infidelity in past relationships, a difficult upbringing, or irreconcilable differences with people close to you are justification for their possessiveness. In reality, they are just attempting to hide their jealousy.

You become increasingly isolated from support systems friends and family, and as a result, you become more and more dependent on your partner.

Unpredictable Affection

If you don’t comply or agree with your partner, they withdraw their affection or become irritated and hostile.

Their love is your willingness to conform to what they want, and a lack of submission will result in them either becoming cold and detached, or aggressive and angry. They use affection as a tactic to exploit and control you.

You find yourself feeling you need to be overly careful when dealing with them to avoid offending, upsetting, or enraging them – in other words, it’s you have to “walk on egg-shells” around them.

Shifting the Blame

Arguments with your partner are turned around and made to seem as though it’s your fault or you brought the issue on. Somehow, other people are always to blame for your partner’s problems, and they never accept responsibility for issues in their life. They use you and those around them as an outlet to vent their anger.

Eventually, you start to think that you might actually be at fault for their irritation or the problems in your relationship. Maybe if you just tried harder not to upset them, things would be better and you could get back to what the relationship was when it first started.

You take their emotional outbursts as proof of how intensely they care about you, because if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t get so angry – right?


Criticism is common in your relationship, with your partner ridiculing your spending habits, lifestyle choices, what you eat or drink, or your appearance. When you try to confront your partner about it, you are met with gas-lighting – they question your account of the incident, make you second-guess yourself, or tell you that you’re overreacting or being “crazy.”

Putting on an Act

Your partner acts charming and personable in public, but behind closed doors they behave very differently. You feel as though no one would believe the mistreatment that you endure because of the outward persona that your partner depicts.

The Guilt Trip

To keep you in the relationship, they make threats to blackmail you, claim self-harm or suicide, or warn about injuring those you love. They use whatever manipulation tactics they can to prevent you from leaving them.

You feel you don’t deserve better or will never find anyone who cares for you as much as they do. Your self-esteem is pretty low and the idea of finding new love doesn’t seem possible.

Being single seems daunting and lonely, and besides – shouldn’t you stick it out? While you fight with each other, you think it’s normal to disagree sometimes. You stay with them because you believe that you can save them or get them to change their ways.

You remember the better days and how wonderful things were the beginning, so you don’t give up just yet and cling to the idea that things will turn around.

If you recognize some or any of these behaviors in your partner or in your friends’ relationships, you should know that it is not in fact normal. These behaviors and stages are very commonly associated with an emotionally abusive relationship, and just because you are not being physically harmed, it doesn’t mean that the abuse isn’t taking its toll on your mental health.

Moreover, abusive relationships rarely start with physical violence. Instead, they start with the subtleties of an unhealthy and emotionally volatile relationship, which progressively worsen as the relationship continues. In time, emotional abuse can escalate in severity, turning from verbal attacks and mental manipulation to physical beatings and possibly even death.

Recognizing that these behaviors are unhealthy and abusive could help you or someone you know a dangerous relationship. If you or someone you know may be in an abusive situation, we highly encourage you to check out our real time resources.


Am I an abuser?

How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

Are you worried that your behaviour towards your partner or family member might be abusive?

Do you criticise the way your partner looks all the time? Do you act jealously or manipulate your partner to do as you want?

Domestic abuse often starts off small, with lots of different events that gradually chip away or erode a victim’s confidence.

Below is an outline of some of the behaviours that are classed as domestic abuse. If your behaviour fits any of these patterns then you may be being abusive but there is help available before the situation gets hand. Your whole lifestyle could be in jeopardy if you don’t decide to change your behaviour.

Mental / emotional abuse

If you are being mentally or emotionally abusive towards your partner or family member, you might be

  • Criticising
  • Using language designed to humiliate
  • Blaming
  • Intimidating and threatening
  • Destroying personal belongings
  • Telling them that they are mad
  • Telling them that you are not being abusive

Threatening behaviours

This can include making threats to:

  • Take the children away yourself
  • Have the children taken away by Social Care or other people
  • Have your victim deported
  • Have your victim sectioned
  • Abuse your victim’s children, family, friends or pets
  • Kill someone
  • Commit suicide
  • Mutilate your victim or their loved ones
  • Stalk your victim (any of which could be in person, via phone call, email or text message)

Intimidation and isolation

It could be you:

  • Repeatedly criticise your victim
  • Tell your victim that they are ugly / worthless / useless
  • Prevent your victim from having contact with family and friends
  • Humiliate your victim in front of others
  • Give your victim a curfew
  • Stop or monitor your victim’s phone calls

Psychological abuse

You may:

  • Act jealously
  • Blame your victim for causing the abuse
  • Lie to your victim
  • Manipulate your victim to do as you want
  • Ignore your victim
  • Undermine or confuse your victim
  • Tell your victim that they are losing their mind

Financial abuse

Being financially abusive may include:

  • Building up debt in your victim’s name
  • Withholding money from your victim
  • Stealing money from your victim
  • Limiting or preventing your victim from having access to money
  • Not letting your victim work
  • Using family money for alcohol / drugs
  • Claiming and keeping your victim’s benefits
  • Selling your victim’s possessions
  • Not paying child support
  • Refusing to pay bills
  • Forcing your victim to earn money for you/ another person
  • Threatening to report to your victim to the Benefits Agency or other authorities

Sexual abuse

Are you asking your victim to do sexual things in return for meeting their basic needs and requirements. Whether in a relationship or not, if someone does not want to have sex, they do not have to. If you are forcing someone against their will, then you are being abusive.

Some forms of sexual abuse can include:

  • Rape
  • Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts
  • Degrading treatment
  • Sexual name-calling
  • Forcing someone to prostitute themselves
  • Making someone wear clothes that they haven’t chosen
  • Forcing someone to take part in or look at pornographic images
  • Forcing someone to have sexual relationships with other people

Sexual abuse of any form is never right.

Violence / physical abuse

You may be directing violence and physical abuse at your victim, or at their family, friends or pets.

An example of this is:

  • Hitting / punching / kicking / shoving
  • Spitting
  • Strangling
  • Pulling hair
  • Making angry or physical threats
  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Using weapons
  • Forcing someone to use drugs and / or alcohol
  • Depriving someone of sleep
  • Hurting a pet
  • Invading other’s space


Forced marriage is a form of domestic violence and abuse. It happens when you force a victim to marry someone when they do not consent. You may make demands that the victim accepts the marriage proposal through physical, mental or emotional pressure and violence.

Parents who force their children to marry often justify their behaviour as protecting their children, building stronger families and preserving cultural or religious traditions. However forced marriage cannot be justified on religious grounds and forcing someone to marry against their will is wrong.

How does my behaviour affect children around me?

If you are around children they will most probably be affected in some way by your abusive behaviour.  How does my behaviour affect children around me? >

Are you hurting the one you love?

Help is available if you choose to STOP >


Am I Abusive? How to Know if You Are an Abusive Spouse

How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

Am I abusive- How to identify if you are an abusive spouse…

Am I emotionally abusive- How to know if you have been an abusive spouse

You might think that the way you talk to or treat your partner is normal. However, you will be surprised to hear that some of your behaviors and acts can be abusive. 

When people ask, “Am I abusive?” they are about to come to the point of self-realization of their actions, especially when their partners begin to complain.

Sadly, people who grew up in dysfunctional households full of negativity, abuse, and the s, may not understand what it means to be abusive, or even to be abused.

In her research study titled: The Long-Term Impact of Emotional Abuse in Childhood, Margaret O’ Dougherty Wright makes an in-depth study into emotional abuse and how it affects individuals as they grow up.

In this article, we will be looking at signs of an abusive spouse. Moreso, we will answer common questions “Am I emotionally abusive?” and “Am I verbally abusive?” to help people figure out how to make things right in their relationship.

How to know if you are an abusive spouse

It is important to note that it doesn’t boil down to the physical version when it comes to abuse, which many people know. Abuse can occur verbally, psychologically, and mentally. Whatever the type of abuse that is experienced in a relationship, it tends to destroy it. 

The reason is that abuse reduces trust in a relationship, weakening the existing bond and connection between both partners. Therefore, if you notice things are no longer the same between you and your partner, it won’t be bad to find out if abuse exists in your relationship.

Related Reading:Signs of an Abusive Wife and How to Deal with It

Emotional abuse exists when one partner uses emotions to shame, criticize, embarrass and manipulate the other party. When there is an eternal pattern of abusive behaviors and words, emotional abuse exists in a relationship

Barrie Davenport dives deep into the signs that help you recognize the signs of emotional abuse in her book. This will help partners recognize the patterns of control and manipulation in their relationship.

Here are five signs that could reflect abusive tendencies in a man.

1. Control

If your partner begins to complain that you are too involved in their private life, you might be emotionally abusive. Understandably, partners have the desire to be involved in each other’s affairs. 

However, if you find it satisfying to control every little aspect of your partner’s life without giving them the freedom to make their decisions, they may be emotionally abused.

2. Howling

Partners howl or yell at each other when they have an emotional outburst. However, when disagreements and fallouts usually escalate into howling or yelling at each other, it is not healthy, and emotional abuse might be at play.

If you howl at your partner, it would be difficult to make a conversation productive. In addition, a power imbalance is created where the loudest individual is heard. This can make your spouse cower in fear and be reluctant to speak because they don’t want to offend you.

3. Disdain

If you feel disdain for your partner, it will be challenging for you to express your feelings appropriately. One of the signs of a healthy relationship is when both partners are respectful even when they disagree with your claims. 

However, if you discover that you always respond to your partner’s needs with disgust and disrespect, you might be creating an atmosphere of emotional abuse in your relationship.

4. Always defensive

If you have asked yourself, “Am I emotionally abusive to my girlfriend?”, being defensive is one of the signs to look out for. When you always feel the need to defend yourself, it would be difficult to achieve positive communication with your spouse. 

You and your partner must be able to discuss honestly and openly when resolving issues without being defensive.

5. Threats

One of the reasons why people ask if “I am the abuser or the abused?” is because they don’t know the signs to watch out for. If you constantly find yourself issuing one threat or another to your partner, there is a chance you are emotionally abusive.

Usually, these threats come in coercive or forceful statements accompanied by blackmail and other trepidatory remarks. The intent is to corner the victim and prevent them from rescuing themselves.

 Watch this video to learn more about the signs of an abusive spouse:

Related Reading:Reasons of Spousal Abuse In A Marriage

5 signs of an emotionally abusive woman

Have you asked yourself, am I emotionally abusive to my boyfriend or husband? Here are some signs to help you find out if you have been emotionally abusive or not.

1. Playing the blame game

One of the highlights of emotional abuse is making the victims believe that they are responsible for their faults and unhappiness. 

This is why it is difficult to break the cycle of emotional abuse when it is in play. If you put on this behavior at various intervals, you may be emotionally abusing your partner.

2. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that makes the victim doubt their sanity and judgment. 

If you often make your spouse feel that their feelings and memories are crazy and false when they are not, you might be gaslighting them.

3. Stonewalling

Stonewalling happens when you refuse to discuss or communicate with your partner. If you always need to disrupt uncomfortable conversations, you might be making your partner uncomfortable in the process. 

This refusal to always continue discussions might come from a place of lack of concern for your feelings.

4. Isolation

Emotional abuse can affect all aspects of our lives. It affects our relationships with friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and a host of others. Usually, abusers find a way to convince their partners that no one is concerned about their welfare. 

This notion makes the victims refrain from their friends and loved ones and keep to themselves.

5. Explosive attitude

Everyone is bound to experience mood swings, but a relationship can be affected if it experiences this every time. An explosive attitude becomes a problem when your partner takes the fall for your mood swings. 

The typical attitude of explosive individuals is to shower their victimized partner with love and affection after an outburst, and they repeat the cycle.

Related Reading:How to Recognize and Deal with an Abusive Partner

15 questions to ask yourself to be sure if you are abusive

The questions below are for you to have a good answer to the question: “Am I abusive?” If you answer yes to most of these questions, there is a possibility that you are an emotionally abusive partner.

  1. Do you have an abusive temper that your partner frequently complains about?
  2. Is your partner always afraid to be in your presence? 
  3. Is your partner always extra-careful about their activities, speech, and the s?
  4. Have you ever threatened to hurt your partner physically?
  5. Do you regularly abuse your partner verbally?
  6. Are you unpredictable?
  7. Does it look your partner is tired of the relationship?
  8. Does your partner complain of you being too controlling or obsessive?
  9. Does your partner have low self-esteem, possibly due to your actions?
  10. Do you insult or mimic your partner?
  11. Are you possessive of your partner?
  12. Are you always embarrassed about your partner’s behavior that you don’t being with them in public?
  13. Do you feel helpless sometimes?
  14. Has your partner threatened to leave you if you continue your behavior?
  15. Do you play a pivotal role in choosing who your partner moves with?

In Catherine Busby’s book titled: Abusive and Controlling Relationships, she mentions some questions that help partners figure out if abusive and obsessive control exists in their relationship.

Also Try:Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

Behavior partners complain about that shows you are an abusive spouse

When you are abusive in a relationship, your partner may say or react in ways that reflect it. Here are some common abusive behaviors that victims complain of from their partners.

  • Name-calling
  • Character defamation/assassination
  • Yelling
  • Gaslighting
  • Public embarrassment
  • Insults concerning your appearance
  • Discouraging your interests
  • Threats
  • Financial supervision
  • Controlling your movements
  • Treats you a child
  • Jealousy

Related Reading:Best Ways to Protect Yourself From an Abusive Partner

3 Ways to Dealing with emotional abuse through self-compassion

If you fear you have been abusive to a partner, what can you do? One of the profound ways to help yourself is through self-compassion. 

Self-compassion in this sense means being kind to yourself and channeling your emotions the right way to prevent using them as an abusive tool on your partner.

Here are three ways to deal with emotional abuse through self-compassion.

1. Practice forgiveness

You need to stop punishing yourself for past mistakes. It is essential to accept your flaws because they are part of what makes you human. The act of practicing forgiveness on yourself is the first step to having a good understanding of self-worth, which helps you treat your partner right.

2. Talk to someone

If you have been combatting some unresolved long-term issues, you need to speak to someone experienced, preferably a mental health professional. You will be surprised to see an improvement in your emotional and mental health which instills self-compassion.

3. Practice mindfulness

Another way to hone self-compassion is to hone mindfulness. You need to make conscious efforts to be aware of each moment and what is happening. This will help you control your acts, thoughts, and emotions displayed towards your partner.

Related Reading: Strategies to Deal With Emotional Abuse in a Relationship


To the regular person asking, “Am I abusive?” the points above help you answer questions that relate to emotional abuse. Hence, if you have asked yourself, “Why am I abusive?” or “Am I in an abusive relationship?” you will be able to tell at this point.

It is essential to mention that you take deliberate steps to treat emotional abuse before it takes a big negative toll on your relationship.


Signs of an abusive relationship

How to Know If You Are an Abusive Spouse

This article discusses abuse.

If you’re currently in distress, please head to 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for support. 

It’s not always obvious that you’re in an abusive relationship. This article flags some of the key signs to look for. It’s common for someone who is being abused to believe that it’s their own fault and that they somehow ‘deserve’ the abuse. It’s important to know that you’re never to blame for the way an abusive person treats you.

This can help if:

  • your partner tries to control your behaviour
  • your partner threatens to harm you, your pets or people you love
  • you’re scared of your partner.

An abusive relationship isn’t just limited to physical violence. It can include sexual, emotional and physical abuse, and may involve control of your finances. Here are some signs to look for.

Controlling and possessive behavior

  • They check on you all the time to see where you are, what you're doing and who you're with
  • They try to control where you go and who you see, and get angry if you don't do what they say.

Being unreasonably jealous

  • They accuse you of being unfaithful or of flirting
  • They isolate you from family and friends, often by behaving rudely to them.


  • They yell or sulk, and deliberately break things that you value
  • They threaten to use violence against you, your family, friends or a pet.

'My partner isn’t violent all the time – they love me'

Your violent partner may act lovingly towards you at other times and may truly feel sorry for their horrible behaviour. So it might be hard to stay angry and upset with them. However, there is quite a high chance that their violent behaviour will continue. Abusers can be incredibly charming people, especially if they’re trying to make you or others see them in a good light.

'Things will get better – they didn't mean to hurt me

After a violent episode, it's common for both you and your abuser to try and downplay what happened with excuses, apologies or promises to change. You may feel embarrassed or scared to acknowledge what actually happened.

Things might settle down for a bit, but it’s often only a matter of time before abuse happens again. It's very difficult to completely get rid of physical abuse in relationships, and any abusive behaviour, without professional help.

'It's so confusing – I'm sure it's a one-off'

If you’re experiencing abuse, things can feel really confusing, especially if it's your first relationship or if it is the first time your partner has shown abusive behaviour towards you. You might not be sure what to expect next.

Abusers often try to influence your sense of what’s real, to make you feel confused or even that you’re going crazy. This is known as ‘gaslighting’. Statistically, though, if someone behaves violently once, they’re very ly to do it again.

'Maybe it's my fault'

You may begin to think that you’re to blame for your partner’s abusive behaviour. An abuser may excuse their behaviour by saying something , 'It wouldn't have happened if you hadn’t…'. The truth is that no matter what you do, another person’s abusive behaviour is never your fault.

'I'm scared of what will happen if I leave them'

It’s not unusual to feel afraid of leaving the person who’s abusing you. You might feel unsafe, or scared of what the person might do to you or themselves. You might also feel that you aren’t capable of making it on your own. It’s important to remember that there are people who can help you every step of the way.

Getting help

Click here to learn more about what you can do if you’re in an abusive relationship.

You can always call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), a free national hotline that provides information, referrals and counselling for domestic violence, family violence, and sexual assault. It’s available to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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