Is Your Relationship Destructive? 12 Signs of Abuse you Shouldn’t Ignore

frightened, abused woman with hands tied

                                            Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Signs of abuse can be complicated and confusing to the victim, because it comes in many forms and isn't always about black eyes & bruises. 


Don't ignore the signs of abuse - find out if you're involved in a destructive relationship. If your answer is YES to even a few of these 12 Red Flags listed below - read on because this is for you.

Years ago I read a book that literally saved my life. It was called "Men who Hate Women and the Women who Love them" by Doctor Susan Forward.

My Mom suggested I read it. I wasn't sure if what I was experiencing in my marriage was really abusive or not. It was all so confusing, because I wasn't walking around with visible bruises.

The back cover listed signs of abuse;
  • Does the man you love assume the right to control how you live and behave?
  • Have you given up important activities or people to keep him happy?  
  • Does he switch from charm to anger without warning?  
  • Does he belittle your opinions, your feelings and your accomplishments?
  • Is he extremely jealous and possessive?
  • Does he withdraw love, money, approval, or sex to punish you?  
  • Are you walking on "egg shells" and apologizing for everything? 
  • Does he blame you for everything that goes wrong?  

My answers to every one of those eloquent questions was a resounding yes! In fact I found myself not just saying yes - but Hell Yes!!

I was stunned that the author knew so much of what was going on in my life, and was able to put it into words.

That's how I knew that I wasn't the only one - that I truly wasn't alone.

Because she described my life like she knew who I was, and what I was going through; that meant other people were dealing with the same thing.

The book hadn't been written for me - but it sure seemed like it had been.

That was a huge relief just in itself...

Here's what else was on the back cover;

If the questions here reveal a familiar pattern, you may be in love with a misogynist - a man who loves you, yet causes you tremendous pain because he acts like he hates you.

The author explained destructive relationship patterns, and the men and women that find themselves trapped in them.

Reading those impactful words, and understanding the signs of abuse was a pivotal moment in my life. It changed everything as I had come to know it.

Just like I grabbed that book off the shelf years ago, you've opened this blog and decided to read it for a reason...

Have you wondered if maybe your relationship is an abusive one?

I know I didn't understand what I was going through or how bad it really was until I read that list and said YES to every single item listed.

The unfortunate truth is that if you answered yes to even a couple of those items I listed above (let alone all 8 as I did) you are most likely in a destructive relationship.

So why should you trust me?

Because I've been right where you are today.

Filled with mixed emotions like shame, fear and embarrassment. I felt like I was drowning, had tunnel vision and I was scared to death of what might be coming my way next.

I really believed that one day he'd actually kill me.

Worst of all I felt completely alone and isolated - like nobody could ever understand how complicated it all was.

It was a world full of anger, intimidation and control.

I couldn't see how things would, or even could change for me. It left me feeling unworthy, very sad and helpless.

So the title of my blog refers to 12 signs of abuse; and I've only listed the 8 that I read on the back cover of that book years ago.

Let me explain...

The other 4 I'm going to lay out here for you, are also from real life experience, and things that seemed too important to leave out.

I've written a memoir about those 10 awful years I survived long ago.

I'm going to quote sections from my book that describe how I was feeling, and give you solid examples of what might be going on in your world too.

But first, I want you to know that you are NOT alone!

I know it feels like you are - but you're not.

There are ways to get help and find a life of freedom that you deserve.

So read on...

It's really hard to wrap your head around it all when you love someone. How can they tell you they love you, but then  treat you so badly?

I also know that it's really easy to second guess yourself, and to make a million excuses for them...

But there are no excuses for abuse. None.

I really do know, because I've made them all.

My hope is that you'll read the rest of this with an open mind. Be honest with yourself and see things for how they really are.

If you're reading this because you think someone you love may be in an abusive relationship then please find a way to share this with them.


Sign of Abuse #9 - Swearing and Calling you Names

This was a daily occurrence in my life, but if it happens - AT ALL -  it's a huge sign that your relationship lacks respect if nothing else.

Here's a snippet from the unedited version of my book ~    

Can you relate?

I came down the hall, my purse swung over my shoulder trying to appear confident, and of course ready to go. He glanced up at me from the TV and the look that came over his face was dark and instantly angry. "Well, well...look at you," he spat the words sarcastically. 

Chad stood and came towards me with a smirk I would dearly have loved to have wiped off his face with a slap. "Since when do you dress like a whore to go out with our friends?" I brushed off his words like they meant nothing to me, and said as calmly as I could manage, "come on, I thought you were ready to go?" 

"I'm not going anywhere with you looking like a fucking tramp, and where the hell did you get those clothes? You certainly can't afford them with that shit hole job you have, and you better not be spending my hard earned money" he continued to rant. “Maybe you're hookin' now, is that it? Is that why you look like every guy in the room tonight could buy himself a piece?"

What horrible things to say to your spouse, someone you claim to love. His words crushed me and reduced me to tears consistently.

My self esteem was in the toilet.

But I had come to believe the things he said to me - the names he called me. In fact my negative self talk was like a recording playing in my head, and I couldn't turn it off.

It's all I ever heard.

Today I can look back and see it clearly from a different perspective...

Here's what was really going on that night;

His reactions meant that I looked good - all cleaned up in my new clothes.

It also meant that he was feeling insecure, and was extremely jealous of what he perceived the other guys would be thinking that night.

He wanted to punish me for making him feel that way.

He needed to put me down in order to build himself up.

So he could regain control -  by belittling me.

All his issues - not mine.

Sign of abuse #10 - You Feel Confused & Ashamed

I always felt confused by his bad behavior because it swung from crazy love to hatred in seconds.

He could be mean and hateful in a split second without warning, and his explanation was always because he loved me so much. 

It always ended up being my fault, and I was ashamed that I tolerated it.

Here's another snippet from the unedited version of my book - Can you relate?

The drive home was as quiet as the drive there. Refusing to utter a word, I kept my eyes focused on the road ahead. Eventually, he turned in my direction and said, "babe you know I love you, right?" I continued to stare straight ahead, silent. "Christie answer me, I love you so much, I just can't stand the thought of you with anyone else. When I saw that necklace I was sure a guy must have given it to you, don't you understand?" 

He continued in what I assumed he thought was an apology. "You just make me crazy with all that makeup and those slutty clothes you wear. If I didn't love you so much I wouldn't even notice!", he continued. He sounded a bit desperate now, trying to get through to me, but I remained silent and unmoving. That's when he grabbed my hand, and barked "look at me!" 

I obeyed, but still refused to speak. He was frustrated now and I worried that he'd go on another tirade, so I managed a weak "ok..it's ok," but I hung my head as I spoke the words in total shame.

That evening as we'd left to see friends - he'd pushed me down the front stairs of the house. I was scratched and bruised, but mostly humiliated and angry. In order to be sure things didn't escalate further - I remained silent.

Here's what was really going on that evening;

He needed me to believe that I had caused his bad behaviour.

Chad was so desperate to make me understand that it was all on me - I was to blame for everything that happened.

He was jealous and possessive.

I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was so scared - and tolerated his horrible & disrespectful behavior.

Again his issues, but this time... also mine.


Sign of abuse #11 - Living in Fear of what Might Happen Next
silouette of sad young girl holding her hands to her forhead

I lived in fear and always felt like I was walking on eggshells. Never knowing what would set him off next or why. 

My anxiety was high, and he had complete control of my emotions, even when he wasn't around.

Another snippet from the unedited version of my book - Can you relate?

"I LOVE YOU" it said, with a little heart etched next to it. Adrenaline surged through me with a jolt, leaving my stomach a bit queasy. Great, I thought, feeling dread and fear building too quickly. I took my forearm and swiped the filthy words off my car window without thinking. Geez, that was probably a bad move. Anxiety had a solid grip on me, as I continued to stare at those three little words.

Trying to shake it off, I turned to walk back up the stairs, careful not to slip on the icy steps. As I pushed through the front door I realized with relief that he wasn't home, the house was quiet, almost too quiet. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down a bit, hating the feeling, always afraid of what he'd do next. It was  strange though, his car was parked out front, was he hiding on me? I called out just to be sure. "HEY I'm Home!" but there was no answer.

Can you see the patterns forming?


Sign of abuse #12 - The Verbal Abuse turns Physical

At this point in our relationship my instincts to survive were kicking in.

I was backed against a wall so many times, and had perhaps endured enough that I started to talk back. 

Another snippet from the unedited version of my book - Can you relate?

No sooner were the words out of my mouth, I found myself regretting them. With the speed of the athlete he was, he reached towards the coffee table for his almost full beer. Before I knew what had happened he had launched the bottle directly at my head with all of his strength. 

Somehow I managed to dodge to my right, and bend at the waist, but it barely missed me. It crashed into the wall behind me with a thud that left a huge dent. Bouncing and spinning on the floor, white foam spraying all over the carpet, the wall, and of course me. 

A fleeting thought raced through my mind...where's Sam? I don't want him caught in this mess. Outside of course, it's a warm day, he's ok...he's ok.

I lost my balance and went down on one knee. In a flash he was on top of me pulling me to my feet by my $5 necklace (that I was still ridiculously hoping he wouldn't notice). The long chain was twisted and wrapped around his hand, so it dug into the back of my neck. He brought my face within inches of his, he was breathing hard now, red faced, and when he spoke next there was white spittle around the corners of his mouth.

He was so angry. 

My mind went blank, not really caring what he did next. Maybe this time he'll go too far, I thought, even kill me, and in that absurd moment I was ok with it. If I'm as stupid, ugly and worthless as my loving husband says I am (on an almost daily basis) why endure anymore of this.

Maybe he'll go to jail, then he couldn't hurt anybody else. 

But then who would protect Sam?

That was the first night he got really physical with me. I was talking back and regretting it. The more I pushed back or defended myself the angrier he got and the situation escalated.

It was new territory and sometimes I thought I'd just give up. I was sure he'd kill me eventually.

What was really going on that day;

  • He didn't understand my new behavior, or what it might mean.
  • There was a more desperate need to get me back off balance.
  • He felt like it was losing control over me.
  • Fear was setting in - that he might be losing me.

Also his issues - but I was in a bad place, and things were escalating quickly.

My only anchor was my need to protect my dog, and his well being.

Key Takeaways:

More information to help guide you out of an abusive relationship.

I've shared these pieces of my story to help you determine if your relationship is a destructive one. 

To help you find parallels in your life; so you understand that you're not alone.

To help you see that you are worthy of much more.

I'm hoping it will help you recognize that abusive relationships are toxic, and can do a lot of harm.

If you can relate to this article, please reach out to someone you can trust. 

Your family, a good friend, your family doctor or a professional counselor is even better.

I know you're scared...it's completely understandable and you should be. The alternative however can turn out to be much worse.

Dig deep and really look at your situation. If you relationship is unhealthy you should move on. Reach out for help - it's the best thing you can do. 

Speak up - you really do deserve much more!

You are worthy of a better life, and it's out there waiting for you to claim it.

Please feel free to comment, ask questions or share more insight to the topic below - I'd love to hear from you.

Cheers to Being Forever Free - Liz

More information to help guide you out of an abusive relationship.

P.S - If you like Straight Talk & Practical Solutions...here's another blog you'll enjoy.  

Speak Up About Your Abusive Relationship and Dissolve Your Abusers Power


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Liz Porter

I'm Liz, the self-empowered, red wine & coffee lovin', personal growth fanatic behind this website. I've stopped shrinking into places I've outgrown and launched this site in pursuit of my passions. I'm a fan of straight talk and practical solutions - that's why I'm here to Inspire - Educate and Entertain you on your journey to becoming the best version of YOU!

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