In an abusive relationship, one partner will seek to take power and control from the other partner by any means that they have at their disposal. Whilst abuse often takes on unique paths and different forms in each relationship where it is present, there are certain signs that you can look out for if you want to recognise an abusive relationship.

Many abusers gain control by disguising their behaviour or making excuses for their behaviour. Domestic violence is rarely a one-off occurrence, and most abuse will become gradually worse over time. Some people will not realise that they are being abused or that barriers have been broken in their relationship, because their partner is manipulative.

If you are concerned about hidden abuse in your relationship, ask yourself these questions. You do not need to say yes to them all to be in an abusive relationship.

  • Do you ever feel scared of your partner?
  • Are you isolated or cut off from your family and friends?
  • Have they told you how to dress, what to wear or who to talk to?
  • Is your partner jealous and possessive?
  • Have they ever humiliated you, insult you, told you that you were useless or otherwise undermined your self-confidence?
  • Is your partner ever verbally abusive?
  • Has your partner ever physically hurt you or threatened to hurt you, or people close to you?
  • Does your partner have sudden mood swings which dominate the household, including sudden changes from charming to aggressive?
  • Do they control your money or your means of getting money?
  • Have you ever felt the need to change your behaviour to avoid triggering an attack?
  • Has your partner ever damaged your possession, including furniture, mobile phone, computer or children’s toys?
  • Have they ever threatened to hurt or hurt animals in your care?
  • Have they made threats about kidnapping or taking custody of your children?

Even small forms of physical abuse still count as physical abuse. Although a black eye or a broken bone are more recognisable forms of abuse, that is not to say that you should underestimate hair pulling, having an egg thrown at you, or any other form of “small” physical assault. This type of violence will often escalate over time.

Physical abuse is often the most tangible type of abuse in a relationship, however it is not always the most damaging type. Whilst physical scars may heal or fade, the emotional toll of domestic abuse can be long lasting.

Emotional abuse is an assault on your personality and your character, rather than on your body. It can wear you down over a long period until you start to believe that you are worthless and that no one else will ever love you. This type of abuse makes it very difficult for people to leave their partner, because they cannot see any hope at all. Contact the National Domestic Violence helpline for support if your feel as though you are being emotionally abused by your partner.

Financial abuse is also a serious faculty of domestic violence. Taking charge of your money will undermine your ability to act independently. Controlling your finances means that they are able to control you more easily.

As well as taking charge of your money, they may also put bills in your name. If these bills are not paid off, this can have a lasting effect on your future. If you believe that your partner has financially abused you in this way, then you are recommended to speak to a domestic violence support worker to discuss your options.