10 Red Flags of an Abusive Relationship

When people think of abuse they often equate it to physical violence but that isn’t where abuse starts or ends. Abuse can be physical, mental, or emotional and everything in between. Anyone from any walk of life can be abused and anyone can be an abuser, there isn’t a type or a look when it comes to these things. It is important to understand what constitutes as abuse and what you can do about it if you come to the realization that you are being abused.

Remember that a relationship is any connection that you have with another person be it work, school, romantic, a friendship, or just an acquaintance and that any one of these examples can have abuse within it. What follows is a list of 10 red flags you might run into if you are in an abusive relationship. This list is not meant to be the only red flags of abuse and if you feel that you are being abused please seek out help, there will be a short list of resources at the end of this article.

1. Extremely Controlling Behavior

In many abusive relationships the abuser will want to control every aspect of their victim’s life. They might want to know who their victim is talking to, who they are planning to meet up with, or where they are going. They may demand that their victim doesn’t talk to certain people, often for trivial reasons, and they may even want them to stop having contact with their own family. This controlling can even flow into them demanding what their victim wears, how their makeup looks, or how they carry themselves.

2. Humiliating You

This behavior is often done in front of other people, perhaps his or her friends, and is used as a way to keep their victim down. The abuser’s goal is to make them feel weak and small so that the victim doesn’t stand up for themselves. Humiliating them in front of others is the abuser’s way of keeping their victim in place and making them feel like the things they may be saying to them are correct.

3. Guilt Trips


This is a method employed by abusers to get their way. They might say something like “if you loved me you would/wouldn’t do this” or “I though this meant something to you, but apparently I was wrong.” The hope is that the victim will feel bad for letting their abuser down and just give in to whatever it is they want.

4. Forces You Take Responsibility of His or Her Feelings

The abuser will use this tactic as a form of manipulation. They may say “you make me angry” or “you’ve done this/you’ve done that” as a way to make their victim feel responsible for anything bad. This is meant to push that victim to work on making the abuser happy at all times. The abuser wants to keep their victim in line and making them feel like it’s all their fault helps the abuser control their victim’s actions.

5. Ultimatums

This is yet another form of manipulation, there are many ways that an abuser might accomplish this and some can be very sophisticated. With ultimatums that the abuser is trying to get what they want by force without laying hands on their victim. With an ultimatum the abuser might hold someone over their victim’s head, perhaps and child or even their home, in an attempt to gain absolute control over the situation. The abuser might say something like “if you go out with your friends I’ll take away your credit cards” or “if you leave me I’ll kill myself.” The fear of losing all that they have or the person they love might stop the victim from doing something that, in a healthy relationship, would be completely harmless.

6. Physical Violence

If the abuser can’t get their way with words they can and will resort to violence. This can start off as small things like holding their victim’s arms during an argument and lead up to completely beating their victim or even killing them. Hitting, choking, tripping, pushing, or throwing things are all forms of physical violence in a relationship.

7. A Bad Temper

The abuser might have a short fuse or just blow up over something that doesn’t look like a big deal to anyone else. This isn’t just a symptom of having anger issues, it is also yet another form of manipulation. The goal of this is to scare the victim into being subservient and obedient by doing anything they can to stop their abuser from getting angry.

8. Force You to do Something You Don’t Want to


This can mean anything from making you go to the movies when you’d rather stay home to making you do something physically that you don’t want to do. It is another way for the abuser to gain control over their victim. Some might even find pleasure in watching their victim be uncomfortable.

9. Constantly Checking up on You

An abuser might employ this as a way of keeping their victim in line. They may demand that their victim text them at certain intervals while they are out and can even request that the victim send specific pictures, like them holding up a peace sign or a selfie with the friend they said they were with.

10. Picking Fights

An abuser might do this to test your limits. They will want to know how far they can take a fight and see what all you might be willing to apologize for. They won’t take responsibility for anything and will instead make you feel as if it was all your fault. Once the fight is over they may forgive you right away or they may keep up a cold façade to see what you might do to win back their favor.

If you feel like you might be in an abusive relationship, please seek help. You can call RAINN at 800-656-HOPE (4673), they are there to listen. If you are actively being abused call 911 as soon as you can and report it. There are also many options based on where you live as well. You can start by clicking here for help.

Also, please watch video our video on 10 Gaslighting Signs in Relationships:

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  1. “LARRY” (2002)
    -called me every night to make me miss “Friends”
    -forbade me to interact with family, friends, acquaintances
    -made fresh remarks just to irritate me
    -guilted me into giving him one more chance, only to lose me in the end
    -tried to use the whole “Christmas spirit” think to manipulate me back into the friendship

    “PETER” (2004)
    -forcibly kissed me
    -wouldn’t let me out of his sight or grasp
    -pinched my arm nearly cutting off circulation, nearly broke my hand/neck
    -told me to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”
    -an all around bully who got off on making me miserable!

  2. Currently in a second marriage. She often accuses me of things she does herself. Playing games in her phone as we talk and claiming she’s listening, or ignoring me when we are out while she talks with others. I’m pretty thick skinned so it never bothered me until I spoke to a sick relative on the phone outside for 30 minutes. HOw could you do that? I’m going home, you’re so uncaring.
    I have two older boys with mild psych issues. I’m constantly being told to stop child support. She tracks my phone, controls the finances, and in subtle ways alienated me from relatives. Sooo flipping subtle it took a while to realize what was going. Cold shoulder, silence, blaming me for her sadness. She is sharp tounged and apparently thin skinned. And she’s mentioned I’m all she’s got and if I left she’d be dead within days. But no pressure! 🤨

  3. i had 2 who showed most of these. Incredibly they did not repeat the behaviours

    the first one would do:
    -2 (humiliating you). Never in front of others but used to make me feel small for some reason.
    – 3 (guilty trips): not like in the text, but he was from another town and was in mine just to study. When he was in a crossroad having to choose between taking a specialization for more 2 years or going back home, he asked me what I wanted him to do. Like, his future was i MY hands. I said he should take the specialization so he did. Many times I tried to break up he used to say “you made me stay here for more two years, i could be at home with my family now. You cannot do it”
    -5 (ultimatums). One day talking at the phone, he was away at his sister’s apartment, and the break up subject came up. He said “do you want this? ok, i am ready to jump from the window” and I was stupid to believe. He also used to threat to kill a cat we had.
    Only because I did not love him and many times tried to be just friends, but he used those psycological tricks to drive me into what he wanted. THen he would do
    – 8 (Force You to do Something You Don’t Want to), because “well, bf and gf should do it” (kissing and sex also). Not in a violent way, but convincing me to accept his touches and all, even if he would never be pleased in return.
    He was not violent but very tricky and knew how silly I was at that time. He was my first bf and although I was not a child anymore, I had never had any kind of relationship before.
    >>Well, with him I learnt to say NO, to read between the lines. But, the negative thing is that i do not trust much of physical intimacy. Not that I dont have or like it, but sometimes I feel like trash, as if they are using me… i am never sure. But casual relationships? no way, i do not feel comfortable

    the second one would
    – 6(physical violence). He would hold me and shake me and bruise my skin.
    – 9 (Constantly Checking up on You). He would came up at my home silently and enter slowly just to see what I was doing. He would come up at my uni just to see if I was in class or with who i was chatting. He would follow me when I was going to class to be sure i was really going. One day i realized he was waiting by the corner and decided to take another way. When we talked he asked me where did i go, i said “to uni, why?” “because u did not take the usual way” and i got him: “were you following me? are you mad?” he never admitted his sh*t
    – 10 (picking fights). He would start and argument that would last for literally HOURS and i ended up exhausted without knowing the reason it had started at all. He used to do it even when we were not together anymore but used to talk sometimes
    >>With him I decided to never ever let a male raise a hand on me anymore without being extremely hurt in responde. I decided to learn how to fight. Now i know 2 martial arts that I love


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