Am I being abused?

In a close relationship, it can be difficult to know whether you are being abused, especially if your partner says they love you, gives you a lot of attention, or pays for the groceries or rent. People who are abusive sometimes act loving and supportive as a way to keep you in the relationship. A partner’s loving behavior does not make their abusive behavior OK. Forced sex and cruel or threatening words are forms of abuse. Learn more about how to recognize abuse.

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Signs of abuse

There are many types of violence and abuse. Some of these signs are signs of physical abuse or domestic violence. Some are signs of emotional and verbal abuse or sexual abuse.  

Signs of abuse include:

  • Keeping track of everything you do
    • Monitoring what you’re doing all the time or asking where you are and who you’re with every second of the day
    • Demanding your passwords to social media sites and email accounts
    • Demanding that you reply right away to texts, emails, or calls
    • Preventing or discouraging you from seeing friends or family
    • Preventing or discouraging you from going to work or school
  • Being jealous, controlling, or angry
    • Acting very jealous, including constantly accusing you of cheating
    • Having a quick temper, so you never know what you will do or say that may cause a problem
    • Controlling how you spend your money
    • Controlling your use of medicines or birth control
    • Making everyday decisions for you that you normally decide for yourself (like what to wear or eat)
  • Demeaning you
    • Putting you down, such as insulting your appearance, intelligence, or activities
    • Humiliating you in front of others
    • Destroying your property or things that you care about
    • Blaming you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Physically hurting or threatening to hurt you or loved ones
    • Threatening to hurt you, the children, or other people or pets in your household
    • Hurting you physically (such as hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
    • Using (or threatening to use) a weapon against you
    • Threatening to harm himself or herself when upset with you
    • Threatening to turn you in to authorities for illegal activity if you report physical abuse
  • Forcing you to have sex or other intimate activity
    • Forcing you to have sex when you don’t want to through physical force or threats
    • Assuming that consent for a sex act in the past means that you must participate in the same acts in the future
    • Assuming that consent for one activity means consent for future activity or increased levels of intimacy (for example, assuming that kissing should lead to sex every time)

If you think someone is abusing you, get help. Abuse can have serious physical and emotional effects.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

Sometimes a romantic relationship may not be abusive but may have serious problems that make it unhealthy. If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship, try talking with your partner about your concerns. If that seems difficult, you might also talk to a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or religious leader.

You might be in an unhealthy relationship if you:

  • Focus all your energy on your partner
  • Drop friends, family, or activities you enjoy
  • Feel pressured or controlled by this person
  • Have more bad times than good in the relationship
  • Often feel sad or scared when with this person
  • Know that this person does not support you and what you want to do in life
  • Do not feel comfortable being yourself or making your own decisions
  • Cannot speak honestly to work out conflicts in the relationship
  • Cannot talk about your needs or changes in your life that are important