What Are The Signs That You Could Be With An Abusive Partner?

Sometimes it’s going to be blatantly obvious that you are with an abusive partner. The signs will be crystal clear. However, many times it’s not obvious until it’s too late and you are trapped.

Likewise, friends and family can often be blindsided. They can ignore things that are blatantly obvious, and they can even turn a blind eye to signs they don’t want to confront.

So let’s quickly talk you through what the signs are you could be with abusive partner early on. Then, we will go through the bigger set of signs for the longer term of them becoming more abusive and taking control.

We will also discuss if it’s possible to spot that someone is an abuser, or in an abusive relationship, and if you can mistake signs to make false accusations easily.

As well as heterosexual relationships, we will briefly talk about LGBTQ relationships, and also men who are abused by female partners.

Early On Its Not Usually Physical Abuse

Most relationships don’t start with physical abuse. If they do, then they don’t usually last for more than a few weeks anyway. The abused person has to be drawn into gaining feelings and developing fear through control.

An abusive person may in the beginning not even realize they are abusive, especially not in the first relationship. There could be reasons for this, including upbringing or trauma. Once they do realize they are, they can sometimes calm down and change, but more often they will fight between good and bad.

But if they are abusive and don’t care, or embrace it actively, then it can be a progression that is actually done deliberately, if not actually planned step-by-step.

So usually the early signs of domestic abuse are not always obvious until the tentacles of been wrapped around the entire relationship.

It can be about controlling emotions and the mind far more than hurting the body in the beginning. Physical fear and abuse are not part of this progression. It tends to creep up in stages. Putdowns, convincing you not to see family and friends, demands, making out you are unreasonable and they are very reasonable.

Then it ramps up into accusations of affairs, ignoring you, criticizing you. Controlling more and more. This can ramp up over time into full threats to hurt you or kill you. Or to attack someone close to you, or hurt your children.

Then it often progresses to throwing things and punching walls and doors. A tell-tale sign of male anger is always a punch mark in a door.

How Abusive Partners Usually Progress The Gaining Fear And Control

Once the threats, accusations, outbursts of anger, and general overbearing behavior progress, things can ramp up dramatically.

Cash and credit cards start to be removed, and the money is spent without your knowledge or input. Every single move you make will be tracked, sometimes being followed. All dressed up as saying they love you and don’t want to hurt or they will never let you go.

The emotional control continues by saying things as they will never let you go, they would rather die, and you will never be apart from them. Family and friends gradually get cut off. First, they are criticized, then certain friends are removed, and then the family is removed. It’s always their fault and never their partner’s.

This abuse can grow into a complete dependency born out of trauma. You start to ask for the okay to do anything, you start to comply. You feel completely trapped and emptied, yet emotionally dependent.

Walking on eggshells, you can often be locked in the house. Then the hitting begins. The first time there are usually apologies.

Then the physical abuse continues. Every time there will be apologies in the beginning. When you confront them, they will say that will change and it’s not them. But it becomes more systematic over time, a campaign of abuse designed to overwhelm you and keep you completely under control.

They may begin gaslighting you, making you question your very sanity in a sustained and targeted campaign.

The fear and breakdown become complete. There’s no fight left, you hide from family and friends, you make excuses, and you hide the damage physically and mentally.

Create Forceful And Unpleasant Sexual Encounters

One progression that always happens is forceful and unpleasant sex. It may start off passionate and raw, and many people like that.

They may like the bad boy, or bad slut type, not realizing they have let the devil through the door. Over time you feel compelled to have sex, and then forced. Once rape becomes normal, it becomes more violent.

You are told how to dress, including being sexualized, but then being punished if anyone dares to actually look at you.

You feel you owe them something sexually, you feel you owe everything out of the bedroom as well.

There is no respect for giving you an STD (they almost never loyal themselves), no condom to use, and they may even refuse birth control and just insist you have an abortion.

How Can You Spot That Someone Is In An Abusive Relationship?

Spotting that someone you care for is in an abusive relationship is difficult unless there are some really obvious signs that you are aware of.

Physical signs are obvious. If you know they aren’t into some sort of consensual rough sex then physical bruising and attempts to hide it, are usually a dead giveaway. If you are in the home, or out with them, look at the signs of control. Look at the mood swings, look at how they look at each other.

If it’s your friend, are they scared of going home? Are they checking their phone all the time?

Do they never seem to have money of their own, even if they earn plenty? Do they seem uneasy about leaving children alone with their partners?

Watch out for personality changes. Depending on how they are normally, watch for swings to the opposite end. If they have self-esteem watch for the swing to low self-esteem. If they have low self-esteem, watch for a swing even further downwards.

When with you are they engaged on the phone? Does the partner insist on dropping them off and picking them up? Does it seem like you yourself are being watched and judged?

signs of domestic abuse

Are There Different Signs For Abused Men?

The signs of abused men by female partners are usually mostly similar, especially in the progression.

However, physical violence is usually not so overwhelming and pronounced, because of the physical strength difference. It tends to be far more viciously verbal with the man being put down, both personally and on social media.

He is never good enough, he’s not a real man, he’s pathetic; anything like that is a warning sign.

Physical violence can be hidden by men as well. However, although women can hit men, they will also use implements such as knives and mallets, anything to hand that overcomes that strength difference.

Because women can’t physically overpower you, they may attack you when you’re off-guard, like when you’re asleep. They may attack children or pets, or viciously damage something you are proud of. It can be a far more insidious, personal, cruel style of abuse.

Do The Signs Differ For LGBTQ Relationships?

Really, the signs don’t differ in this type of relationship. Whatever the sexuality, however, the people in a relationship identify, it all boils down to control through coercion and abuse. But regardless of how they identify, you may be targeted because of your orientation. Even if it’s the same as theirs.

They will isolate you by saying that people won’t take you seriously because of how you are, or the police won’t take you seriously. That you will be ridiculed, that nobody will listen to you.

Could You Mistake Abuse In Your Partner Or Watching A Friend?

It is possible that you can mistake abuse. There are consensual relationships that can seem abusive but which are fully consensual, wide-awake, and happy. The best policy is to educate yourself if you have suspicions and watch carefully. Listen, and probe. Ask questions, be normal and see if the responses you get are also normal.

Never confront either partner. All this will do is force them closer together and push you away. By confronting either, you will just give a reason for them to push you away, isolating the abused partner even further.

What To Do If You Feel You Are Being Abused

If you know or suspect, that you may be with an abusive partner, then the first step is to talk to a confidential service in your home country. Search online, there will be plenty.

They will be able to put you in touch with people who can help you locally. If things are really bad, you can approach the police as well, but don’t do it by calling the emergency number unless you are really in danger because if you aren’t immediately then removed permanently, it could ramp up the anger.

If you really fear, or you can’t get anywhere, have an emergency escape plan and plan to use it as soon as you can put everything in place to get away without being found.

The Different Types And Campaigns Of Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is just one part of domestic abuse, and there are also many other ways that abuse can manifest itself. Often, until it gets bad, the person involved doesn’t realize it until it’s too late, or they are in denial.

It can happen to everyone, not just women. Although it is predominantly men abusing women, every person could find themselves in that position.

What I’m going to do here is quickly talk you through all the different types of abusive behavior so that you can decide if one or more of those areas applies the relationship you are in right now.

Everyone Can Be The Target Of Domestic And Sexual Abuse

As I said, everyone can be in an abusive relationship. Don’t just think of this as men against women.

Also, there are so many different things that can feed into abusive behavior that often many people just don’t spot them. Some of those behaviors are often seen as “normal” in some societies, but in human terms, they actually aren’t how people should treat each other.

Note also that the abused person’s history can feed into this. Somebody who has had previous abusive relationships can actually gravitate towards that type of relationship in person because it feels “normal” to them.

Plus, you may not notice it happening until it’s too late. Many people who have survived abusive relationships talk later about feeling they were groomed. That means it was a deliberate ramping up of the abuse, a campaign to break them down in condition them over time so they didn’t even really notice the progression.

What Actually Is The Definition Of Abusive Behavior?

Domestic abusive behavior is generally defined as a pattern of incidents that is unhealthy. Controlling, threatening, coercive behavior is often accompanied by violence and psychological warfare in order to break a person down.

Mostly, it’s about control. Through the fear tools in the conditioning, they seek to take complete control of you to feed and deal with their own issues about relationships. But it can also be about insecurities. Somebody who has been previously cheated on, or feels that partner is better looking than them, could develop controlling tendencies.

So to be clear, abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial, and emotional. It can also (and often is) all of those things together.

Physical Abuse: What It Exactly Consists Of

Physical abuse covers everything physical. It doesn’t have to be outright physical violence. It can be touching, pushing, even the threat of physical violence rather than actually doing it.

The response is what matters, a fear of being physically hurt. However it manifests itself, it’s about inflicting physical pain and resulting fear on someone else.

Examples include:

  • Pinching and slapping
  • Dragging
  • Scratching
  • Choking
  • Biting
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Being scolded or burnt
  • Being poisoned
  • Enforced eating
  • Thrown objects (including food)
  • Violence against humans or animals to control the partner
  • Withdrawal and control of medication

As you can see, it’s a huge range of things that some people would see as normal. For example, many women routinely dig than nails into men when they are angry, or scratch. This is abusive behavior, so it’s not just men who are physically violent.

Generally, throwing objects, even if they don’t hit the person are not even thrown at a person, is still physical abuse. It creates a fear that they will throw something at you, which conditions a person’s response to be fearful and submissive.

Emotional And Psychological Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse is often the most difficult to discuss because it’s difficult to pin down exactly what is going on in some situations.

For example, psychological abuse can include gaslighting. This is where someone deliberately, and in a sustained manner, makes you question your own sanity by denying reality and changing things you know happened. For example, moving your car keys.

However, some of the key traits of emotional and psychological abuse are:

  • Intimidation
  • Trying to turn friends and family against you
  • Using affection as a weapon
  • Silent treatment
  • Insults
  • Being put down all the time
  • Littering opinions
  • Using social media against you
  • Abusing you physically and then blame you for it
  • Creating situations where you doubt your sanity
  • Accusations of affairs
  • Mocking sexual performance or something else in front of others
  • Creating ongoing fear through implied threat


The next type of abusive behavior to talk about is isolation. That’s where somebody’s ability to interact is limited or completely taken away in order to break them down and control them.

It could include things like not having access to friends and family. Either through denying them, or starting to poison that person against them.

It can be limiting time outside, and removing money so that nothing can be done anyway. It could be taking away a car, or some other mode of transport.

Even if allowed out, isolation abuse includes constant checking up on someone and demanding to know where they are and who they are with, even potentially through GPS tracking apps and constantly demanding to use video calling so that they can see exactly where you are.

At the extreme, it could be locking somebody in a room or restraining them in some way, so that they physically cannot leave.

Overall, isolation is about removing someone’s ability to escape, or even speak to somebody else about the abuse they are suffering. It’s a control mechanism that completely removes that person’s independence.

Power And Control

Power and control are at the heart of all abuse, but it can be the main focus in some situations.

Most abusers want to control the people around them, especially their partners and partners children. Power and control could be things like forced marriages, or breaching family court orders, or refusing access to children.

It could be using force to maintain, or it could be a combination of physical and verbal tactics.

It can also be about physical violence used to maintain the rules set.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is usually also about control. However, it can also be about stealing money for someone else’s purposes, or about fueling a drug habit.

Economic/financial abuse usually consists of controlling all of the person’s income, and generally all income they can. Money cannot be spent without permission; many things will be refused. That person will also have to account for every penny they spend.

If they spend money, they will be made to feel guilty and will therefore spend less and less even when they really need to.

It can also include things like defaulting on payments, running up bills in someone else’s name, setting up false accounts, credit cards or companies to embezzle funds, and otherwise gaining money through deceit that will come back on the other person.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is about many different things:

  • Harassment and pressure
  • Forcing into sexual acts
  • Degrading language and acts
  • Forced involvement of others
  • Physical and mental abuse during sex
  • Lying about contraception

Note that some relationships consensually involved these things (other than contraception issues), and you should never judge somebody’s relationship based on bruises or things they say, unless a lot of nonsexual evidence is also available.

Control Through False Allegations And Threats Of

This is a style of abuse that many people do not think about. False allegations, or threats of making them, as a tool of control that is often used.

If you leave me, I will tell the police XYZ. I will tell people you raped me. I will tell them you abused your child.

Those types of threats can be incredibly potent, as they could destroy someone’s entire life if they are believed. Even if they aren’t, it throws doubts on someone’s personality and integrity, which can be enough.

It can also be actually making false allegations. Usually, the abuser could go to the lengths of counterclaiming abuse and the relationship, or getting in first and ensuring that you are under the microscope with the police and authorities.

It could be threatening to tell your employer so you lose your job, which would bring even more power to the other person.

Although often overlooked, single accusations can be incredibly powerful and mean that somebody hands over complete control to another person in order to avoid the accusations being made.



Stalking is another sign of abuse. It’s not just about crazy fans or strangers following people around.

Partners can stalk physically. Following you to see where you go. Checking up on you that you are doing what you say. Watching you to make sure you are not doing anything they don’t like, which is mostly around rapid fears that you are cheating on them.

But nowadays, it can also be online stalking. Creating fake accounts to trying to get information out of you. For example, flirting with a partner using a fake account to see how they respond.

It can also be using the Internet to track where you go and what you do online and physically.

Digital stalking can also include keyloggers, GPS tracking apps, physical tracking devices, creating fake accounts, hacking into accounts or stealing passwords. All of these things are done in order to exert control and deal with paranoia.

What Exactly Is Coercive And Controlling Behavior?

Although it is sometimes described merely as coercive and controlling behavior within the context of these relationships, the term actually covers a huge range of different behaviors.

Sometimes it’s tough to spot what actually is coercive controlling behavior because it interlinks with other types of abuse such as physical and sexual abuse.

So in this quick guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about coercive and controlling behavior.

We will go through each of the basic groups of coercive controlling behavior, and talk about how they link into the big picture of domestic abuse.

Deprivation Of Basic Needs

When someone deprives your basic needs, they either deprive you the means to get them, or they physically stop you from obtaining and using them.

Basic needs can be anything from food, to sanitary products, cleaning and dressing, and many other areas of human dignity. By controlling, and using as a weapon, those basic needs, it emphasizes the complete control they have over your life.

Basic needs can also be financial, although this tends to be classed as financial/economic abuse within its own description.

Also, deprivation of basic needs doesn’t just mean the abused person. Often it means their children. They are denied toys and other basic needs in order to control them and ensure gratefulness when things are provided to children.

Isolation From People Around You

Being isolated from the people around them is another form of coercion and control.

This isolation can be completely total. They are never allowed out. Sometimes even the extent of being physically restrained to stop them. This is extreme but it happens.

The isolation tends to start gently. Suggesting they don’t go out but stay with the abuser. Then this becomes more consistent until, through various methods, they give up all control over who they see.

Also, they will turn people against them and vice versa. They will sow seeds in their mind about the trustworthiness of that person, or imply that they have done or said something against them.

Through various strategies the idea is to get them to completely rely on their stop to not see anyone else other than them, and for them to have absolute control over when they go out, and who they see.

At the heart of this, path and control, is usually intense jealousy. They are scared that they will meet someone else, or realize how bad they are. Therefore, by cutting them off, there is less chance of this happening.

Also, the fewer people they have around them, the less support they have to fight back. They will be completely on their own and at the mercy of the abuser.

Financial & Economic Control

Financial and economic control are actually slightly different, although part of the same abuse strategy. Financial control is where the money of the abused person is limited or monitored, or sometimes both.

They will have to justify every single penny they spend. They will be checked up on, and they will never be given enough money if any.

Every penny that is earned goes through the abuser, who will not justify their own spending at all and will get angry and make out that you are a bad person if you challenge them. But it’s also about economic control. This is as extreme as stopping the person from working completely so that they have no independent power within the relationship, or to leave it.

It could also be limiting the job they do, limiting the hours they do, or insisting that they work at certain times.

Some abusers will deliberately enforce menial and degrading jobs on someone who is intelligent in order to break them down and make them feel worthless. So economic control goes far beyond financial control because it deliberately limits and damages someone’s ability to escape.

Controlling Where You Go And Who You See

Controlling where you go on who you see is the classic coercive controlling behavior mechanism of control over another. In controlling who they see, they limit their access to outside resources and opinions. It also strengthens their bond with the abuser because the only human interaction they get is with them.

It also is about jealousy. They will demand to know who you are with and where you are all times, and will never really believe you.

They will also limit you from seeing people they know could be problematic. For example, if it’s a friend they don’t like, who they feel could tell the abused person that that is the case and how they need to get out, then that person will be made bad and they won’t be allowed to see them.

So controlling where you go on who you see is also about turning you against other people, and turning them against you, as well as general control.

Forcing You Into Criminal Activity

Many abuse survivors have been forced into criminal activity. It could be as simple as ignoring drug use under their roof.

But it could also be knowing that someone is dealing drugs, and even having to handle drugs and money for them.

Sometimes, it goes as far as them being used as the drug mule in order to implicate them through fear, gaining more control over them.

But it could be anything illegal. It could be fraud or some other financial crime. Whatever it is, it has the dual purpose of moving their risk to you and implicating the you so that you are trapped with the abuser even more.

Forcing You Into Sexual Activity

Forcing someone into sexual activity with the abuser, friends of the abuser, or even for money the abuser keeps, is more common than is thought by many. By forcing someone into sexual activity they degrade them and take control of their very nature.

This is mostly done through threats of violence, and after ensuring that the victim has fallen in love with the abuser.

Often, money is made from that person as part of a strategy of the abuse which turns that person into little more than an object.

abused woman

Stalking, Following, And Tracking You

Abusive partners often stalk the people they are with. This can be physically following them, remotely following them, or a combination of both.

Stalking and physically means following them. Trying to catch them out, trying to catch them in the act of whatever is in their twisted mind they think is going to happen. Usually, they are terrified that the abused person is going to meet someone who could turn them against the abuser.

It’s also a fear that they will come back, which would break the chain of abuse.

The tracking can also be remote. There have been a lot of talks recently about the Apple GPS tracking devices that are designed for things like bags, which have been used to track people’s whereabouts instead.

Creating Dependency To Control

Dependencies are created in vulnerable people by taking control of their emotions first. Usually, a manipulative person will flood the abused person with love and attention to get them to fall for them, once they have feelings, it puts them under their control even more.

As well as the dependency on love is the dependency of shared space. Abusive partners tend to move in as quickly as possible and dominate their partner’s space, making it their own and taking control of everything.

Taking away resources such as money, controlling food, where they go, and relying on the abusive partner to take them places will give them permission, it all creates a growing dependency on the abuser in order to function.

Manipulation Of Professionals So They Work Against You

An abuser will try and manipulate any professionals who could come between them and the person they control.

It could be convincing healthcare professionals that there are mental health problems in the person that manifest themselves in self-harm or delusion. Anything to be able to turn doubt onto the claims made.

It could be trying to manipulate the courts in order to gain custody so that the children can then be used as a weapon.

I know one extreme situation where a corrupt doctor was paid by a drug dealer for the prostitutes he pimped. That Doctor would diagnose them with mental health problems and prescribe antidepressants.

Worse than that, the doctor would convince the women that they were mentally unwell and get them to sign paperwork that handed power of attorney to the abuser. This paperwork was entirely false, but the victims were so confused that they believed they had signed away their rights and now legally had to do as they were told.

Limiting Options To Get Away From The Relationship

Once control has been established, you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste as an abuser, do you? That’s why abusive people always try and limit the options for the other person to escape the relationship once they have total control over it and that person.

Financially they will take all the money away and control it. They may allow the person a car, but it not will be in their name. The house or rent will always be in the abusive partners name so that there is nowhere for the other person to go.

Basically, they were limit options of escape so that if the person has to get away, they have literally no resources do it with.

Challenging The Biggest Myths About Domestic/Relationship Abuse

When it comes to domestic and relationship abuse, there are some huge myths that have been perpetuated over decades. Even though there’s a lot of behavioral science studying all aspects of this now, some of these myths persist.

These myths persist generally, but some species in certain cultures, especially religious, certain countries, and certain classes as well.

But generally, these myths, and situations can apply to anyone, anywhere in the world. So let’s take a look at the top myths about abuse and discuss why they are mostly wrong.

  1. Alcohol And Drugs Make People Violent And Abusive

This is certainly true. People kick off under the influence of alcohol and drugs far more than they do when they are sober. So it stands to reason that people are going to be more violent and abusive relationships and the influence of alcohol and drugs.

But it doesn’t make normal people become abusive. It can make people angry, and very occasionally make them lash out depending on the situation and their mental health, but it does not make someone abusive or excuse the abuse.

Alcohol and drugs make abusive people more abusive. It will tip them over the edge, bring it out into the open, and amplify behaviors they already have.

So although it will be claimed, for example, that men are more violent under the influence of alcohol and drugs in relationships, the truth is that those men would be violent and aggressive anyway.

  1. If It’s So Bad Then Why Don’t They Just Leave?

Thinking this ignores all of the knowledge about how abusers break down their victims so that their mental health suffers. They become incapable of leaving sometimes or are just too scared.

They can be terrified of physical and social repercussions against themselves, their family, or their children as well. That’s why so many women have to run in the night because they are scared of what will happen.

In addition, abusers always take control of finances and other resources. There are simply very few options for the person who is being abused to take.

  1. Abuse Always Involves Physical Violence And Coercion

This is definitely not the case. Women can abuse men without any physical violence or threat at all. They use skillful emotional and sexual manipulation instead.

Whichever sex is doing it, what really breaks someone down is a pattern of controlling, threatening, degrading, and coercive behavior that gets the person confused, depressed, anxious, and starts to break down their sanity.

Add in financial abuse, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and online abuse, alongside coercive and controlling behavior, and it’s perfectly possible to be in an extremely abusive relationship without any hint of a physical threat.

abuse at home

  1. They Can Be A Good Parent And Don’t Abuse Children

Abused women often make this excuse to justify staying in the relationship, and to fool themselves into thinking that the children are safe.

Of course, someone can be a good parent and be abusive. They can even not be abusive towards the children at all. However, that is not the most common way things happen.

It’s estimated that 90% of children in abused relationships witnessed abuse under-affected by it for the long term. Therefore, even if it’s not directly abuse of the children, the atmosphere and situation in the house can have lifelong effects, which can also normalize abuse and turn the children into abusers in adult life.

  1. They Were Provoked By My Bad Behavior

Abusers always blame the victim. They will make out that they were provoked physically, or emotionally, to lash out and lay into the abused victim.

This puts guilt on the abused party, and it becomes deep-rooted. It not only relieves the abuser of responsibility for their own actions, but it also makes the entire situation twisted into the person who has been abused taking responsibility for the abuse happening.

Sustained abuse is never the victim’s fault. Although people can be cruel and provoke the other person into acts, and then turn against them in an abusive manner, sustained abusive relationship cannot ever be the fault of the victim, no matter what the individual acts they do in retaliation.

However, it is possible for two people to develop a codependent abusive relationship where both are continually provoking bad behavior in the other.

  1. It’s A Private Family Matter And Nobody Else Needs To Know

This attitude is especially prevalent in certain cultures, especially India, Asia, and the Middle East, although it can happen anywhere, especially if there is a religious background to the family.

It’s often linked to family honor, religion, and social conditioning. It’s all designed to create social cohesion at the expense of individual liberties.

Abuse is never a private family matter. Society pays huge prices for the problems it creates, especially with children who end up being unable to go through the education system, and then who move into criminality.

If you are being abused, it is not a private matter. You need to seek help and escalated as widely and quickly as you can to escape.

An abusive partner will also emphasize that they believe it’s a private matter, and will aggressively stop you from trying to make this otherwise. Of course, making it public loses control, which is not what they want, therefore they try and convince you that keeping your suffering private is the right thing to do.

  1. Women Are Just As Abusive As Men (Although This Is Becoming More Contested)

It is somewhat a myth that women are as abusive as men. Overwhelmingly, the reported cases of domestic abuse in every country in the world are experienced by women who are partners to men.  Death rates in abusive relationships are overwhelmingly amongst women and not men.

However, this is contested due to the ways that the different sexes are abusive and manipulated.

In a relationship, they can also be incredibly cruel, belittling men’s performance and manhood, and breaking them down just as badly as men do.

Although domestic violence does usually involve men abusing women, and does usually involve physical violence, simplifying it to saying men equal physically violent and abusive and women do not is simplistic and wrong.

Another problem with organizations claiming that women are not as abusive as men, is that they disregard the growing evidence that men simply do not report it. Men are not believed, they are ridiculed and laughed at, and not taken seriously in the way that women are.

Because men are expected to be men, and this “suck it up, you’re a man” attitude is still prevalent, abuse by female partners on male partners is a hidden epidemic that is not getting the attention it deserves in many countries.

  1. Women Often Lie About Partner Abuse To Get Children Or Money

Some women do lie about partner abuse to get children or money through custody battles. This is an undeniable fact. However, it is a very small minority in the overall numbers. There are always bad apples, and sex does not define that.

The truth is that all people are just as capable of lying over children and money to try and get an advantage during a breakup, regardless of their sex. However, because women tend to want custody of children, and men don’t, then they are often prepared to do more to get the children and the money to support them, even if it does mean using abusive behavior to achieve their goals.

  1. Women Are Attracted To Abusive Men (This Is Contested)

It is a myth that women are attracted to abusive men. Generally, women are simply not attracted to these traits. However, some women definitely are. Sometimes this is due to social conditioning, sexual preferences, or conditioning through seeing how parents acted.

Also, it can be a sign of previous abuse in childhood or previous abusive relationships that have normalized abusive men.

There are also women who do like “bad boys”, they do like men who are on the edge. They like men who fight, who lash out, and they like to be made to feel small and female. They see this knife edge as exciting until it spills over into inevitable relationship abuse.

But this is a small minority, and it is a complete myth that women generally are attracted to men who are abuse.

  1. People Who Are Abusive Had Abusive Parents

Domestic abuse is prevalent in all classes of society and in all countries. It simplistic to say that men who abuse women had fathers who abuse their mothers, and vice versa.

But the majority of people who had abusive parents will not turn into abusers themselves. It can be a trigger because it has normalized that type of behavior, but conversely it can make people sensitive and hyper-aware of any type of abuse.

Abuse is triggered by many things. There are a lot of reasons why people become abusive and controlling. In many instances, a partner feels that they will be cheated on due to a previous relationship, for example.

But the truth is that there is no overall pattern that suggests that people who are abusive did have abusive parents, although it is acknowledged that it is one of the triggers that can generate abuse in that person towards others.

The Top Warning Signs Of Potential Domestic Abuse

Some of the obvious signs of domestic abuse can raise immediate warning signals in the people around the woman (usually), or the man suffering them. You may think it makes it easy to identify, but that’s not always the case.

Whether you are looking at someone you think is in an abusive relationship, or you think you are in one yourself, there are several key signals to look out for potential problems, or that you are ignoring or covering up sexual abuse.

What I’m going to do here is talk you through the top warning signs, both physical and emotional.

We will also cover some of the confusion that people can have which leads to accusations that aren’t actually true I’ll also cover the fashionable new buzz term “gaslighting” and explain exactly what it is, and what it isn’t.

Physical Signs Of Potential Physical Abuse

Not all abuse is physical. However, there are usually physical signs that physical coercion and aggression is part of the tactics being used. Sometimes physical abuse is calculated, while other times it is pure lashing out and aggression. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.

There are a ton of physical signs, consistent with being pushed over, being punched, choked, being hit with things, or other signs of physical abuse/torture. The most obvious ones will be facial features ones, then the arms and legs, and then the torso. Also, marks around the neck can be a signal as well.

If you notice a friend covering themselves up when they did previously, especially in inappropriate circumstances then it can be a signal.

Likewise, if somebody used the go swimming, or to the beach, and is now not doing that, always wearing unusual clothing, then it could all be assigned.

However, also be aware that there are physical signs that are not abusive. It could be consensual sexual play, it could merely be accidents, or even an underlying health condition causing bruising that they just don’t want to talk about.

Emotional Signs Of Potential Abuse

Emotional signs of physical abuse are far more difficult to spot, and far more subjective.

Often, they can just be a signal that something else is going on. They could just be general unhappiness with the relationship, or it could be something like depression that is completely unrelated.

That’s why confronting someone about what you see as signs of emotional abuse can be so much more challenging unless you directly see them for yourself.

Some of the key signals of emotional abuse that could point towards this happening are:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Developing drug or alcohol problems
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Fearful outlook
  • Depression
  • Look of fear when someone is angry
  • Suicidal thoughts and comments
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of partner
  • Not wanting to talk about partner
  • Constantly defending partner

These can be your own signals, or you can spot them and someone else. But again, every single one of these can be due to another reason, you have to look at a bigger trend to see if someone could be in danger.

If this is you reading and trying to work out if you have symptoms of emotional abuse, and usually deep down you do know. If you look at that list and see many things on there and the root cause is the partner, then you know the truth.

Gaslighting: What It Is & What It Isn’t

Gaslighting is a phrase which is thrown around more and more nowadays. In extreme circumstances, simply disagreeing with someone’s recollection gets you accused of gaslighting.

The truth is that most people have very limited recollection skills. Studies have shown that people’s recollection of events can be hugely different. One person is adamant someone was wearing a certain color, and someone else states a completely different color.

The second thing to understand is that anxiety and previous bad experiences can cause you to project this onto a partner with no evidence at all.

The third problem is that drugs and alcohol can affect how people recollect things and this increases the severity of the differences in the realities perceived.

To be clear, gaslighting is a consistent, orchestrated, campaign to make you lose your mind. A person will deliberately move things, lie, and state that black is white to make you uncertain and back down.

It’s a control mechanism designed to break the person down and get them to not believe their own thoughts, and to completely rely on the person conducting the campaign. It’s psychological abuse in order to condition for complete control.

Forgetting where you put your car keys is something we all do. But if you have got it into your head that your partner is gaslighting you, then finding them where you didn’t expect them immediately makes you think that they moved them deliberately to mess with your head. But nine times out of 10, you simply forgot.

So don’t fall for the modern trend of attacking anyone or whose perception is different to yours. You have to look at the long-term trend of the person in relation to you, and you have to take into account your own biases, past experiences, and mental health.

Gaslighting is something incredibly difficult to prove. However, by understanding what it really is and taking a step back you can spot the long-term trend confirmed yourself if it’s happening, or whether there is something else going on.

Behavioral Changes That Can Occur With Domestic Abuse

Behavioral changes are actually the biggest sign that something is going on. Both with yourself, or someone you know, it’s the behavior changes that are often most noticeable and the biggest red flag.

For example, someone who was previously outgoing and happy and suddenly becomes withdrawn, especially a few months into a new relationship, could be suffering from abuse.

But it might not be that. It could be another health concern, money worries, depression, literally a myriad of other things changing them. Generally, though, you’re looking for several notable behavioral changes. It’s not about someone happy becoming miserable, it’s about big swings in usual and established behavior patterns.

This can be isolating where previously they were outgoing. But on the other side of that coin it can be someone who is usually reserved demanding to go out and then getting very drunk and angry.

So it’s not necessarily about what you would assume, withdrawing, cutting off, going quiet. It is about a big swing in established, normal behavior, into abnormal behavior.

What Controlling Behavior Looks Like & What It’s Not

It’s very easy to assume controlling behavior, and often that is the case. But you should remember that every relationship is different and not judged by your standards, or the cookie-cutter standards of newspapers or advice columnists.

Someone could be completely happy in that style of relationship and be thriving on it, even though you feel it’s unhealthy.

So controlling behavior is not always black and white. However, if someone is referring to the partner as moody, or having a temper, and their previously established behavior patterns are dramatically different, then it is a big red flag.

Physical violence signs, emotional abuse of signs, limiting on socializing, control over all aspects of life, questioning, short temperedness, fear, dramatic swings in previous behaviors, shunning family and friends; you have to put together the big picture if it’s someone you are concerned about.

Should You Step In If You See Any Of The Physical Or Mental Signs?

As you can see, it’s not simple. Although sometimes it is blatantly obvious, and the person may say it to you, or if it’s you, you will know, it’s not always clear-cut.

If you have concerns about someone, you should try and get close and observe. The more information you get, the more you can reach a good conclusion, rather than a knee-jerk one that could be wrong.

For example, many guides say that “excessive privacy” around their partner’s relationship is a warning sign. But think about that, why is it? Many people are very private and don’t talk about themselves.

Also, consider alternative lifestyles. Some people have unusual relationship types that they both thrive in.  BDSM-influenced relationships, for example, can look incredibly odd and abusive on the outside but are actually very close and mutually consenting. Just because you don’t understand it, it doesn’t mean it’s abusive.

Consent is crucial, and if somebody understands that and expresses it to you, you must accept their word, whatever your own views.

So you cannot look in isolation, or look at a handful of things. If you spot signs, you need to be educated and spot many of them before you can have the confidence to consider stepping in. Stepping in should also be very gentle. It should be sitting with that person alone and prompting a discussion where they could open up. Give them signals that you are concerned.

Whatever you do, do not go wading in accusing people of abuse, gaslighting, physical violence, demanding that the relationship breaks up, and attacking both parties.

If there isn’t any abuse and you have misjudged, then you are causing trauma and being abusive yourself. If there is abuse, it could trigger a circling the wagons that create a shared attack which strengthens resolve and leaving you unable to have access at all.