15 Undeniable (But Often-Overlooked) Warning Signs You're In An Abusive Relationship

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No one plans to enter physically or emotionally abusive relationships.

In fact, many survivors of domestic abuse swear to themselves after they've escaped that, now that they know the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship and potential violence, they'll never enter another abusive relationship again, only to find the cycle repeating itself with the next person.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, "On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good."

It's easy for others to ask why someone doesn't just avoid entering into an abusive relationship in the first place, but detecting early signs of abuse can be far more difficult and complex than it seems.

Especially when there are several types of abuse to look out for: Physical, sexual, verbal/emotional (which has three categories of gaslighting, retaliation, and projection), mental/psychological, financial/economic, and cultural/identity.

(Important note: Though women are the primary victims of domestic violence, it's not always the case; men can also be victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.)

The Women's Center, a non-profit organization that provides mental health counseling, support, and education to women, men, families, young adults, and children in Virginia and Washington, DC., distributed a version of the following list of red flag behaviors for women seeking domestic violence counseling to be aware of.

A path to a safer, healthier, and happier life often starts with a bit of knowledge.

If your partner displays the following behaviors, they may be signs of an abusive relationship:

1. He pushes for quick involvement.

He comes on strong, claiming, "I've never felt loved like this before by anyone." You get pressured for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.

RELATED: Why Do Women Stay In Abusive Relationships — And How To Leave Safely

2. He's constantly jealous.

Your partner is excessively possessive, calls constantly, or visits unexpectedly.

3. He's controlling. 

In an abusive relationship, he shows signs of controlling behavior.

For example, he interrogates you intensely about who you talked to and where you were, checks the mileage on the car, keeps all the money or asks for receipts, and insists you ask for permission to go anywhere or do anything.

If your partner feels out of control and that scares you, it's time to leave. 

4. He has highly unrealistic expectations.

He expects perfection from you, and for you to meet his every need.

5. He isolates you.

He tries to cut you off from friends and family members, deprives you of a phone or car, or tries to prevent you from holding a job.

6. He blames others for his own mistakes.

The boss, family, you — it's always someone else's fault if anything goes wrong.

7. He makes everyone else responsible for his feelings.

The abuser says, "You make me angry," instead of, "I'm angry," or, "I wouldn't get so pissed off if you wouldn't..."

8. He's hypersensitive.

He's easily insulted, and will often rant and rave about injustices that are just part of life.

9. He's cruel to animals and children.

He kills or punishes animals brutally. He also may expect children to do things beyond their ability or tease them until they cry.

10. He uses force during sex.

He enjoys throwing you or holding you down against your will; he finds the idea of rape exciting, not only in fantasy. He intimidates, manipulates or forces you to engage in unwanted sex acts.

11. He subjects you to verbal abuse.

He constantly criticizes you or says cruel things. He degrades, curses and calls you ugly names. He will use vulnerable points about your past or current life against you.

12. He insists on rigid gender roles in the relationship.

He expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.

13. He has sudden mood swings.

He switches from loving to angry in a matter of minutes.

14. He has a history of battering others.

He admits to hitting women in the past but states that they or the situation brought it on.

15. He threatens violence.

He makes statements such as, "I'll break your neck," but then dismisses it with, "I really didn't mean it."

If you've experienced any of these signs, you may be in an abusive relationship which can have very harmful effects on your mental and physical health — including PTSD, high anxiety, and broken bones.

RELATED: Why You Feel Trapped In Your Toxic Relationship (And How Abusive Partners Stop You From Leaving)

If you've made the decision to leave an abusive relationship, here's how to do so safely.

1. Make sure you're ready to leave.

If you try to leave before you're ready to, doubts and fantasies can sneak in and persuade you to go back to your abuser. 

Make sure all those doubts are gone and that you are ready to say goodbye to your abuser for good before you make your escape. You can always seek professional help if you're unsure whether or not you can move forward.

2. Have a plan in place to keep you safe.

You’ve seen it in movies, but this is one of those times where it’s okay that you got the idea from films. It's called a safety plan.

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Start collecting the necessary items you will need when you flee. For example, have cash ready to go, and copies of important documents like passports, driver’s license, insurances.

Do your best to keep these in a place where your abuser won’t find them, like a trusted friend’s house. Have a place where you will go where your abuser will never find you.

Lastly, memorize important phone numbers like your local women’s shelter, domestic violence hotline, and friends who are willing to help you leave. Calling the police might also be beneficial, depending on your situation.

3. Leave as soon as you're able to.

Once your plan is in place, leave. Waiting around won’t do any good and will only put you in more danger. 

Plan to leave and do it immediately after your precautionary steps are complete. This way, it limits the time your abuser has to uncover what you're doing.

Ask a friend to be with you when you leave to make the process easier and, more importantly, safer for you.

4. Don’t look back.

The biggest mistake people who are escaping an abusive relationship make is staying in touch and reminiscing about fond memories they had with their abuser. But all it will do is keep you in the constant cycle of abuse.

So, remove your abuser from your life for good. Delete him off your social media accounts. Block his number from your phone. Even better, get an entirely new online/digital identity. 

RELATED: The Truth About Whether Abusers Can Ever Change & Stop An Abusive Relationship

Even if it was never physical abuse or violence your abuser used against you, abuse can take many shapes and forms. A healthy relationship shouldn't make you feel like you have to walk on eggshells or be in constant fear every time your partner walks through the door.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling from domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.

RELATED: A Step-By-Step Plan For Fleeing Domestic Violence During Coronavirus

Wendy Kay is a life strategy coach and author of "Mastering the Art of Feeling Good," an inspirational and practical guide on enriching one’s life by learning how to feel good at will.