Signs of an Abusive Relationship (LGBT Advice)

Lesbian Dating

Signs of an Abusive Relationship (LGBT Advice)

Dr. Frankie Dr. Frankie
Posted:

I hear phrases like these all the time from people, the media, or on social media: “I don’t know why she stayed,” “It’s her fault for continuing to go back,” “It can’t be that bad if she won’t leave,” or “There’s no way she is telling the truth about her partner, who’s the nicest, most generous person. It must be her who is the problem.”

One of the major problems with abusive relationships is that the people who are in them often don’t realize that they’re in them. These relationships don’t start off abusive. Slowly, the relationship dynamics shift and change so subtly that it’s almost impossible to pinpoint when things went from happy and loving to abusive and controlling.

Another thing is that if someone who’s in an abusive relationship does start to speak out or ask others for support, oftentimes the abuser is so well-liked and charismatic when outside of the relationship that no one may believe what the partner being abused is saying. This leads abused people to question themselves and feel unsupported, and it usually results in them continuing to stay in the relationship.

Photo of up and down arrows

Every relationship has ups and downs, but when the downs and arguments cross a line, that’s when it needs to be addressed.

While every relationship has its ups and downs and every couple has arguments, in certain relationships those ups and downs and arguments go above and beyond what is normal and cross over into what is considered abusive and unhealthy.

How do you know when your relationship has crossed the line and it’s time to leave? Well, there are many types of abuse, so knowing them all is the first step. Each type will be discussed in this article, so by the time you’re finished reading, you will know.

Physical | Sexual | Emotional | Financial

Signs of Physical Abuse

When people think about abusive relationships, physical abuse is often the only type of abuse that comes to mind. However, most abusive relationships don’t start off this way.

This is often one of the last ways in which abuse is evidenced in a relationship. Prior to being physically abused in a relationship, a partner has often endured several other forms of abuse.

Photo of a bruised arm

Physical abuse can include hitting but also keeping someone from calling the police.

What’s typically heard is “Well, they haven’t hit me,” or “I don’t have any bruises, broken bones, or anything.” As if the only way they or anyone else will believe they’re being abused or even consider leaving is if there’s some physical evidence to justify it.

Here are some of the most common signs of physical abuse:

  • Hitting
  • Shoving
  • Choking
  • Slapping
  • Using weapons to threaten or inflict harm
  • Controlling when you eat or sleep
  • Forcing use of drugs or alcohol
  • Forcing you to do labor against your will
  • Keeping you from going to the doctor or getting medical treatment
  • Keeping you from calling the police

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a very controlling form of abuse that’s not often thought of as abuse because sex is considered a normal part of a relationship. So, it can be confusing to know if what’s happening is abusive or not. Here are some signs to clear up the confusion:

  • Forcing or manipulating you to perform sexual acts: “If you loved me…” or “I guess I will have to find someone else who will do this…”
  • Demanding sex when you’re not willing or able (i.e., you’re sick)
  • Harming you during sex by choking, holding, or hitting you
  • Sexually insulting you
  • Forcing you to watch porn

Signs of Psychological and Emotional Abuse

Perhaps the most subtle of all abuses, psychological and emotional abuse can go undetected so easily, and, over time, it can undermine your self-esteem and have you feeling like you’re nothing without this person and this relationship.

You may feel that you’re lucky that this person even wants to be with you. You may feel that if you’re ever stupid enough to leave, nobody else will ever want you, and your life will be miserable without this person. You may feel that you will not be able to make it on your own. This person has you forgetting that you did have a life before them and this relationship, and that you can again.

Photo of a depressed woman

Emotional abuse can be the most subtle of abusive behaviors.

Some signs of psychological and emotional abuse include:

  • They withhold affection intentionally as a way to control and hold power over you: “No sex, kisses, or hugs until you’re ‘nice’
    again” or “Maybe I would want to have sex with you more if you would just learn to stop nagging and complaining all of the time and just shut your mouth.”
  • Threats if you leave them to do such things as tell embarrassing things about you to others or keep your kids from you.
  • They alienate you from your family and friends. They might tell them that you’re too busy to see them or make you feel guilty if you want to see them: “I guess you don’t care that I will be home all alone while you’re out having fun.”
  • Calling you needy when you ask for their support
  • They’re indifferent to your feelings. They see you crying or upset and ignore you or do nothing.
  • They will tell you that you’re wrong if you feel a certain way.
  • They ignore your texts or phone calls.
  • When they’re angry or upset, they say it was because of something you said or did, and you usually end up apologizing even though you didn’t do anything wrong.
  • They will say you’re the one with anger and control issues and say they’re the victim.
  • They will accuse you of being overly emotional and overreacting whenever you want to talk about your feelings.
  • Whenever something in their life goes wrong, they blame you for it.
  • They will deny that a conversation or argument even took place. This “gaslighting” is done to have you start questioning yourself, your memory, and your sanity.
  • They’re jealous and may accuse you of cheating or flirting.

Signs of Financial Abuse

This form of abuse is, unfortunately, very hidden in most relationships and can have a major impact on someone for the rest of their life. Signs of financial abuse include:

  • Forcing you to choose/not have a career so you’re not successful and therefore are solely dependent upon them
  • Tracking the spending of every penny and requiring explanation for every expense you make. They can spend whatever they want whenever they want and never have to tell you anything.
  • No access to bank accounts or credit cards. All the money is controlled by one person and doled out by one person.
  • They threaten to leave you, saying that you will have nothing when they do.

Know the Signs and the Next Steps to Take

A bruise or a broken arm is not the only way you can tell if you’re in an abusive relationship. There are so many ways someone can be abusive to you. If you’re not happy in your relationship right now and can relate to some of the signs of abuse, you may be in an abusive relationship.

The good news is there’s help out there for you. While it will not be easy to leave, the truth is that you can leave, and you don’t have to do it alone. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to talk to someone now: 1-800-799-7233.