13 Warning Signs of Abuse in a Relationship

The harmful effects of abuse in a relationship can range from unhappiness and insecurity in the partnership to physical violence. For your own safety and wellbeing, it is crucial to know the warning signs of abuse and how they might present themselves in day-to-day life with your partner. Below are 13 signs to be aware of, according to New Hope. 

If you think you may be involved in an abusive relationship, help is available. 

You can call New Hope’s Toll-Free, 24-Hour Hotline at 800-323-HOPE (4673).

Extreme Jealousy

While your partner might claim that their jealousy is simply the result of their love for you, New Hope purports that it is actually a sign of insecurity and jealousy. An abuser might question you about who you talk to, and express concern about your time spent with your friends, family, or even children. They might try to prevent you from going places – even work or school – out of fear of who you might meet there. They might also bombard you with random calls or drop-in visits in an attempt to “catch” you spending time with others behind their back.

Controlling Behavior

If only one partner in the relationship makes the rules and decisions, they might be overly controlling of you. They might go as far as to excessively take note of when you leave the house and when you get home, or check your call and browser history. An abuser might also try to control the way you dress and what you do with your time. 

Quick Involvement

Abusers often insist on starting the relationship with a bang. They might come on strong from the get-go, pressuring you to commit with claims like “It was love at first sight” and “You’re the only person I could ever talk to.” The love is often fast and intense, and your lover charming and seemingly very loyal.

Unrealistic Expectations

Abusers tend to expect their partners to be perfect and willing to meet all their needs. They may say things like “If you love me, then I’m all you need.” 


The abuser might try to isolate you from everyone but him or herself. They keep you from your friends and family by constantly putting them down and making you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with them.

Blames Others

An abuser does not take responsibility for their problems; everyone else is always the cause. For example, if he goes into a rage, he might defend himself by saying “You made me mad.”  


An abuser is easily insulted, takes everything as a personal attack, and often exaggerates.

Cruelty to Animals or Children

Abusive behavior toward animals and children is a huge red flag. Abusers can be cruel to animals and children with no remorse or sensitivity to their pain. 

“Playful” Use of Force of Sex

He or she might be rough or forceful during sex under the guise of “play.” This could include holding their partner down, pressuring them into intercourse,  or demanding intercourse when they know their partner isn’t feeling well or isn’t in the mood. They have no regard for the victim’s needs or desires. 

Verbal Abuse

An abuser might say cruel and harmful things to their victim. This could include degrading comments, name-calling, or cursing, sometimes in front of other people. They might make you feel guilty, embarrassed, or worthless. 

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde

An abusive partner might be loving and sweet one moment, and angry and explosive the next. During these periods of calm, you might feel crazy for once thinking they were abusive – until the cycle repeats. 

Past History of Battering

Beware of any person who has a history of battery. According to New Hope, “a batterer will beat any partner they are with if the person is with them long enough for the violence to begin; situational circumstances do not cause a person to have an abusive relationship.”

Use of Violence and Threats of Violence

Violence in a relationship is never acceptable. This can include holding the victim down, pushing them against a wall, throwing or breaking objects as a punishment, or physically preventing them from leaving a room. Threats of violence include any threat or physical force meant to control the victim: “I’ll kill you”, “I’ll break your neck”, “If you ever leave, I’ll kill you.”

For more information and how to get help, visit www.new-hope.org.

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