Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Verbal Abuse

Eight Signs of Partner Abuse

I’ve posted these eight signs of partner abuse before, but I think they are important enough to post again from time to time. So, here are eight signs of partner abuse. Please answer “yes” or “no” to each statement.

I am afraid of my partner.

I cannot express my opinions or my feelings without being afraid of my partner’s reaction.

I always ask my partner for permission to see my family or friends, to spend money, or to buy something for myself.

I constantly manipulate myself, my children and my environment in order to make things “just so” for my partner.

I try and try to please my partner only to be criticized again.

I sometimes feel like I am living with two people, a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

I am confused about the difference in the way my partner views our relationship and the way I see it.

I am beginning to believe all the terrible things my partner says about me and accuses me of. Sometimes I’m not sure what is real anymore. Maybe I’m going crazy.

If you answered “yes” to four or more of these eight signs of partner abuse, you are being abused. Please talk to a doctor, therapist, counselor,  or other professional about it as soon as possible. If you do not have the option of talking with a professional about it, talk with a friend or someone you respect.

13 thoughts on “Eight Signs of Partner Abuse”

  1. I had 5 for my last relationship. I can almost answer yes to a few of them now, but I think they are my own habits from the previous relationship. The conditioning is hard to get over.


  2. Also phone up any women’s shelter or domestic abuse hotline. I would encourage abused men to do this as well. If drugs or alcohol are part of your spouse’s/partner’s problems, then talk to the people at Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. Whether you are mail or female, many of them will know of resources that can help you and can give you good advice on how to stay safe and sane.


  3. Here are a few signs that things could soon become dangerous:

    * My partner is constantly invading my physical space.
    (This can consist of blocking your way as you try to move around or sitting/standing abnormally close to you. If these things are happening when you are doing things that you enjoy, this sign is even more worrisome. If these things are happening whenever you are trying to experience privacy, write or draw or otherwise express yourself or make a record of what’s happening, or when you try to talk with friends by email, phone, in person, etc., then this is extremely bad.)

    * My partner has begun to tell me lies about myself.
    (This is not just your partner remembering things differently than you do or misunderstanding you feelings and motivations. This is telling you things that are blatantly untrue.)

    * My partner has changed his routine to make it more difficult for me to do the things I have to do — ie creating scheduling barriers to your activities.

    * My partner has changed his routine to deprive me of privacy or relaxation, or to invade my physical space or otherwise harass me.
    (Is he staying up late when he’s always been a lark and you’ve always been an owl? Not allowing you mental privacy is a major warning sign. Also, not allowing you privacy for things that you are accustomed to doing privately — e.g. using the toilet, showering, undressing– is meant to control you and let you know that you cannot escape, he is “all seeing.”)

    * My partner is searching through my belongings, including private papers, undergarments and so on, without a good explanation.
    (Maybe his explanation is that he can’t trust you. Maybe his gives no explanation. Be especially concerned if these searches are carried on loudly in any sense– verbal, body language (e.g. stomping feet, slamming drawers and cupboard doors, treating inanimate objects roughly).

    * My partner won’t let me sleep.
    (Maybe he yells at you when you try to sleep, or maybe he demands that you keep the hours that he keeps even when it makes no sense for you to do so).

    * My partner watches me while I sleep or try to sleep.

    * My partner tells me I’m a coward if I sleep with our children. (Examples: “Only a rotten mother would hide behind her baby boy.” “What are you so afraid of that you’re using our children to protect you.”)

    Without meaning to, I have listed these signs in order from least serious to most serious. But don’t take that as gospel. I think that my idea of least-to-most-serious applies to the behaviors of most abusers, but there are going to be many exceptions.


  4. A few more signs I should have included:

    * My partner intimates that I’ll lose our children if I leave him.

    * My partner is hiding financial information from me that he used to share.

    * My partner blackmails me into sex.

    * My partner pressures me to have sex with him when I don’t want to.
    (This one sometimes follows a threat to take your children away. It may also follow his accusing you of infidelity. You end up feeling pressured to placate him by having sex.)

    * My partner pressures me to engage in sex acts that I have told me hurt me or make me feel uncomfortable.

    (In no particular order this time.)


  5. Thank you.

    This sort of thing seems to be endemic in our culture. I’m trying to figure out why I evaded the cultural trap. My family tends to be a bit counter-culture — and we frame our views outside of the field of media and religious propaganda.

    What sets up individuals for such toxic relationships?

    An inability to question authority? A naivete that accepts all information as valid?

    My father carefully educated me to be a skeptic at the breakfast table — when my mother wasn’t listening. Momsie had a tendency to go with the status quo.

    And I myself have been in at least one toxic relationship.


  6. May I add that this kind of behavior is not limited to partner relationships.

    Those of us who had a blood relative — parent, usually — that behaved to us in most of the ways listed in the eight points still confront disbelief when we say that we no longer have anything to do with that person.

    Being treated this way by a parent (past the age when parents should give up micro-managing their children’s lives) is boot camp for tolerating it in relationships, assuming the parent is of the same gender as you would seek out for a partner relationship. If the gender is different you just live with hell and denigration unless you have the nerve to violate convention and tell your parent to get out of your life.


  7. I find that the gender of the parent is irrelevant. The template has been created and the adult child is liable to find partners who treat him or her the way the way the parent did.


  8. I was in an abusive relationship with God for a while.
    He dictated my behavior, cut me off from associating with people who didn’t like him, managed every aspect of my life. Everything I did in every aspect of my life, I had to ask him first. Nothing I ever did for him was good enough, I was born in sin. He did one good thing for me and constantly shoved it in my face whenever I squirmed.
    Sometimes he was a raging maniac (always my fault), sometimes he was benevolent (always his grace). I was told I didn’t deserve him, and threatened with hellfire and damnation if I left.
    Ah, the good old days…


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