The trouble with abusive relationships is that we tend to only see the warning signs of abuse in hindsight. Unfortunately, abusers don’t wear neon signs around their necks that say “I’m an abusive boyfriend.”

Until we figure out some sort of labeling system, it’s important that we learn to identify for those sneaky red flags of abuse.

Here’s a list of five common red flags of an abusive relationship.

Controlling Behaviors

Do you find yourself explaining where you’re going, who you’re going with and what you’re doing in excruciating detail? Has your partner ever required you to send photographic proof that you are where you said you are? Do you have to ask his permission before making plans?

These are just some examples of the controlling behaviors that may indicate you’re in an abusive relationship. Abusers will often require proof to believe things you tell them. This is not normal in a healthy relationship. Remember, your partner doesn’t own you and you’re not his pet. This type of behavior is a huge red flag and should not be ignored.

You’re Always the Bad Guy

Do you find yourself always being the one who apologizes after an argument? Do you feel like things are always your fault? Does your partner blame you for all of his problems or all of the problems in your relationship?

Abusers will use guilt as another form of control over their victims. They will constantly blame you in order to break your self esteem. This is a form of emotional abuse. Blame like this has no place in a healthy relationship.

Overly Jealous Behaviors

Has your partner ever searched through your phone or read your emails without your permission? Do they seem to get upset when you spend time with friends or family? Do they become angry when you talk with members of the opposite sex?

Trust is an important aspect of any relationship. While jealousy is a normal human behavior, obsessive jealousy is not normal. This is a red flag of an abuse and a controlling partner.

Threats Against Self, You, Kids or Pets

An abuser will often use threats and intimidation in order to control your behaviors. One extreme way to do this is by threatening to kill himself, you, your kids or your pets.

An abuser might threaten to kill himself if you leave him. He might threaten to kill you or your children if you disobey him. He might threaten to harm your pets when he’s angry. All of these threats are intended to keep you under his control and are a sign of abuse.

Making threats against you and/or your children is not only a scary control tactic, it’s also illegal. In the state of New Hampshire, this would be Criminal Threatening. Criminal Threatening is defines as purposely placing or attempting to place another in fear of imminent bodily injury through threat or physical conduct. Most states have a similar statute. Consider speaking to your local law enforcement agency about your options if you’re experiencing this type of behavior.

Also, threatening suicide is a very serious thing. If your partner is threatening to harm himself, even as a control tactic, you should consider calling 9-1-1 to have them properly evaluated by medical professionals.

Violent Outbursts

Sudden and unwarranted violent outburst are often a sign of an abuse. An abusive partner may seem to fly off the handle over small issues or for no reason at all. His anger will be explosive and unpredictable. Often in the beginning, this behavior might not be directed at you. An abusive person might punch walls or throw things across the room.

This is often overlooked as a red flag because you’re not being physically hurt. However, this is a show of force. Your partner is showing you what he’s capable of. He wants you to be afraid of him and what he could do. This scare tactic shouldn’t be ignored. Although these outbursts are currently not directed at you, there’s no reason to believe that couldn’t change.

Your partner may try and make you feel like it’s your fault that these violent outbursts occur. They might say “I wouldn’t act like this if you didn’t make me so angry.” They will place the blame on you and make you feel guilty for causing them to act the way that they did. This is a form of control. You are not responsible for your partners actions. This is a sign of an abusive relationship.

Now What?

Now you know some of the big warning signs of abusive relationships. Maybe you recognize some of them in your current partner. What do you do?

In my opinion, you should get yourself out of that relationship.

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. It’s not an easy thing to do at all. But for your long term safety, it’s your best option. For resources that may be able to help you, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or my resources and support page.

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