Many individuals who are in abusive relationships fail to see the signs because they get used to being treated poorly. But guess what? Love shouldn’t hurt.

Your intimate partner should never be the cause of your low self-esteem and fear of speaking up. Domestic violence is a serious matter that needs to be widely discussed.

If you were to evaluate your dating relationship right now, how would you characterize it? 

Does it inspire you, uplift you and give you hope? Or is it a place of uncertainty where you experience name-calling, physical violence, put-downs, and possibly more serious patterns?

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, my aim is to help you figure out if you’re in fact in an unhealthy relationship.

Now more than ever is the time to speak up and fight for your right to be treated right. Verbal abuse, teen dating violence, child abuse, and any type of physical abuse are never acceptable.

These are the biggest signs of an unhealthy, violent relationship. If you recognize yourself, it’s time to start plotting your escape.

See also: Enmeshed Relationship: Definition, Signs, And Tips To Overcome It

Are You In A (Physically Or Emotionally) Abusive Relationship?

You’ve started hiding things and keeping secrets so they don’t get mad

sad woman in black top hugging man outdoor

You’ve learned to become careful in your home life. You know what upsets your partner and what you need to keep from them.

You used to share everything, but now…you know that you can’t. You don’t put anything provocative on social media, so they don’t get upset.

You delete your Google searches every day, out of fear that they’ll see something to their dislike. You don’t tell them that you’ve had coffee with a friend of the opposite sex because they’ll make a scene.

Basically, there is a whole part of your life that they can’t know anything about. If they did, it would make your life a living hell.

And what’s most surprising is that this has become so normal to you that you don’t even see it for what it is. A toxic relationship that makes you feel trapped.

There are so many young people out there experiencing the same thing you are. And they all brush it off claiming it’s just a little quirk of theirs with nothing to worry about.

But for as long as you keep making excuses for them and enduring emotional and/or physical torture, things will never change.

There are countless programs for victims of domestic violence. You just have to be brave enough to dial the 24-hour hotline.

See also: My Ex Is Dating Someone Else Already And It Hurts – This Is Why

Your partner constantly checks up on you and gets mad when you don’t reply

woman in black coat using smartphone

Whenever you’re away from them, you know that you’ll be bombarded with texts and calls. 

Your partner will check up on you at all times and if you don’t reply promptly, they’ll get upset. You know that love shouldn’t hurt, but you don’t feel as if you have a choice.

You feel as if you’re cornered into a situation with no way out. You can’t go out with who you want, and if you did, they would make you regret it.

Even if you went out without telling your partner, once they found out, you’d experience an emotionally disturbing outburst that would crush you. So you just put up with it.

You do what they want because it’s just easier that way. You answer every text as quickly as you can, and you don’t even bother lying because you know they’ll see right through it.

You desperately want things to get better, but you can’t figure out how. Every scenario you come up with, you know you’ll regret it.

But there is a way out. It’s called support from your loved ones. A hotline dedicated to victims of domestic violence. Staying with family where they can’t find you.

You just have to decide that this is it and not look back. It’s never easy, but it’s the right thing to do, and you know it.

You find yourself constantly apologizing and feeling like the crazy one

sad woman and man sitting on brown sofa

Abusive partners are really crafty in getting you where they want you. They have no problem making you feel crazy and apologizing for things that aren’t your fault.

I’ve had a few close friends who experienced extremely unhealthy relationships where they were verbally abused, often put down and forced to have relations when they didn’t want to.

From my conversations with them, I got a really clear glimpse into what life with an abusive partner is like.

You forget that love shouldn’t hurt and you learn to put up with their horrid behavior, convincing yourself that it’s just a bad day. Everybody experiences it.

But they don’t. Not people in healthy relationships. Not people who are supported and loved exactly for who they are.

So next time your partner tries to make you feel crazy for simply stating your opinion, recognize it, and speak up. Next time they make you apologize for going out with your best friend, refuse it.

Those are the first steps to taking back control of your life. Stop letting them have so much power over you. Start fighting for your right to be you.

If they don’t like it, tough on them! You are going to do what you please, regardless of their desires. They know where the door is.

You’ve been pushed against a wall or threatened on more than one occasion

angry man yelling at woman while standing near wall

In a fit of rage, your partner pushed you against a wall and threatened to do something truly scary.

You’ve been kicked, pushed, slapped more times than you can count. Your partner experiences these uncontrollable mood swings that make him do scary things.

They apologize afterward and seem genuinely sincere, so you accept it. But not because it’s okay. Because you’re scared for your life. You’re afraid to utter a word.

You know that it’ll happen again and you cannot risk it happening again. So you keep quiet. You hide your bruises under layers of clothes and you lie to your family that you tripped in the shower.

You feel utterly alone, depressed, hurt, and with no way out. You don’t want to do anything to upset them because you never know when they might go overboard.

It’s getting harder and harder to hide proof of your abusive relationship. You’re running out of lies to tell your loved ones

You no longer have the energy to see anyone, knowing that you can’t tell them the truth. The reality of your situation is just too dire to risk them finding out that you’ve told someone what they do.

Life has become unbearable and all you can think about is leaving and never looking back. You know that love shouldn’t hurt. But how do you leave someone who controls every move you make? 

I understand the gravity of your situation. And I am not going to pretend I know the answer.

But I also know that for as long as you don’t share your suffering with someone, it’ll only keep getting worse. All it takes is one call.

You’ve shut off from your family members

woman in orange top sitting on couch

A healthy relationship allows you to foster happy, meaningful relationships with those who make you happy. Be it your family, friends, or co-workers.

You should never feel forced to choose between your family and your partner. The moment that happens, it’s a red flag.

Think about it. Have you been made to see your family less and less? Has your partner filled your head with lies to convince you that you’re better off seeing them less?

That’s called emotional manipulation. And certain individuals are masters at it. They are capable of convincing you of anything that serves their purpose.

This is your chance to see things for what they are and mitigate the damages before it’s too late. This is as toxic as it gets. You don’t have to be a victim of physical violence to be considered a victim.

Any form of abuse, be it physical, verbal, or emotional, is just as cruel and unacceptable. Don’t let this person alienate you from those who’ve had your back since day one.

It’s time to see who’s really in your corner and who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. Life is too precious to be treated like you don’t matter.

See also: Identify, Handle, And Survive A Narcissistic Mother In Law

Your partner proclaimed their love for you very early on

man and woman holding hands while sitting at table in restaurant

Love cannot be rushed. When you feel it, you just know. But not if you ask your partner. To them, love is a game.

They told you they loved you sometime around the first weeks of your relationship.

You were taken aback and kind of didn’t know what to say. I mean, how do you say “I love you” to a person you’ve only been on three dates with?

That’s your partner’s way of manipulating your emotions. They are trying to suck you into their web of lies and deceit by false declarations of love.

And if you’re being honest, what you felt was never really love. In the beginning stages, you saw potential and you really started liking them. 

But once you saw what they’re truly like, that potential turned into fear. And that made you delude yourself that you were in love.

In reality, you feel obliged to this person. It’s as if you are theirs and if you dare claim otherwise, you know they won’t have it.

So you let yourself remain in this unhealthy relationship hoping that somehow, someday, it’ll all be okay. But for as long as you sit there quietly, things will remain the same.

Find the courage to let yourself experience real love and actual connection. Deep down, you know this isn’t it.

See also: 30-Day Self-Love Challenge: Become The Best Version Of Yourself

Your friend circle was much bigger before you started dating your partner

group of people sitting on beach near fire pit

This is how it usually starts. Your partner seems to be fine with your friends and you going out and having a life outside of them.

But over time, they get increasingly jealous and possessive. They claim that you spend way too much time with your friends and you need to be with them more.

At first, it seems kind of sweet that your partner wants you to be together more. Until it no longer is.

They start banning you from seeing certain friends (especially those they’re jealous of) and out of fear, you obey them. Even though some of those friends you’ve known since high school.

You start getting a scary feeling and instead of the initial joy at spending quality time together, you feel forced and without a choice. How did it get this way?

This is the beginning of intimate partner violence. It starts like this and escalates into things you never imagined you’d go through and put up with.

And the worst thing is, you’ve lost a great number of friends due to their controlling behavior, which leaves you with barely any loved ones to confide in.

You are forced to do things you don’t want to do

sad woman sitting on bed near man

Under false pretenses of love, your partner often tries to get you into bed when you’re not up to it.

They keep pressuring you by claiming if you loved him/her you’d do what they want. But you know that’s just emotional manipulation, right?

Just because you’re in a relationship, it doesn’t mean you cannot be raped. Any physical relation you are not fine with but are still forced into is NOT okay.

Your partner should never make you do things you’re not comfortable with. And a good one never will. Only those who look out for their own interest will have complete disregard of your emotions.

The thing is, they know that you’ll do as they say. You’re too scared to say no so you just get it over with it. It’s become a habit that you can’t escape.

Your partner has certain expectations and you have to fulfill them. No questions and no refusing it. They guilt-trip you into accepting their advances.

And to make yourself feel better, you decide to think that it was okay. You’re in a relationship, so it can’t be that serious. You hadn’t done it in so long, so you owed them something…

But you didn’t. And you know it. It is wrong on every level and is a big deal.

You suspect that your partner is being unfaithful

sad woman leaning on sofa while sitting near man

From my conversations with domestic violence survivors, one thing struck me as really odd, yet so important.

The brave women I spoke to informed me that the psychological aspects of their abuse are often much worse than the physical ones.

And we all know that being cheated on leaves a lasting impact on a person. It makes you feel worthless, inadequate, and unappreciated. The emotional toll it leaves can be truly damaging.

This is your partner’s exertion of power. They are letting you know that they can do whatever the hell they want, with zero consequences.

And any sort of power imbalance in a relationship is extremely unhealthy.

This type of psychological abuse that your partner is inflicting on you can haunt you for a long time. And as a society, we need to educate ourselves on what exactly constitutes abuse.

Because it’s more than just physical. Bruises fade, but the psychological and emotional damage stays with you.

Your partner threatens to inflict harm on your child or pet

man talking to woman while standing near door

Abusers are known to go to any lengths when it comes to teaching their victims a lesson. And more often than not, no one is spared.

So, if you’ve experienced instances where your partner threatened to cause your children or pets harm, they are really just trying to torture you.

Only they know if they would actually go through with this disgusting threat. While this constitutes physical child abuse, they are also psychologically tormenting you.

They break your stuff as a form of punishment

broken glass on floor

You’re having an argument that’s really not going their way. Your partner keeps trying to prove their point, but you’re standing your own ground.

Upon seeing that they’re left with no other options, they take hold of something you hold dear (a gift from someone you love, or a pricey new purchase) and they break it against the wall.

This is their way of showing you that they own you. They are showing you who’s really in control.

Again, we are talking about a severe case of psychological abuse. The minute words stop having an effect, they find new ways to exert their hold over you.

And remember – just because it isn’t physical, doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. Love shouldn’t hurt in any way, shape, or form.

Your partner controls your finances

woman in denim jacket looking at man while sitting at table

Something I find that not many (if any) people discuss regarding violent relationships is the financial aspect.

Were you aware that abusive partners are known to control their victim’s finances (among many other things)?

For example, they are known to make their victims quit their jobs, find a new one to their liking, and then spend their money as if it was their own.

If your partner tries to make any financial decision in your name, it’s abuse. If they somehow think that they can give you an allowance or decide how much money you can spend – abuse.

Whatever you’re being forced to do against your own will, always remain aware that it’s a form of abuse.

They make decisions regarding your physical appearance

woman doing lipstick while holding little mirror

Being strictly told what to wear by anyone in your life is a form of oppression (unless you’re five years old).

Has your partner ever suggested you go make-up free or maybe start wearing make-up even though you don’t want to?

It can be wisely hidden in the form of a compliment: “Sweetie, you look so good naturally. I really think you should stop wearing make-up completely.” 

Or comments about your clothing: “Babe, don’t you think your skirt is a little too short? Go and change into something more appropriate.”

Which quickly escalates to ” You look like a tramp in that dress. Take it off before I do it for you.”

None of the aforementioned examples are okay. Nobody gets to decide what you wear or how much make-up you (don’t) need.

You control that, and no one else. This type of manipulation starts off innocently enough, and then it progresses to calling you names and making you feel like crap.

You Can’t Fix Your Partner, But You CAN Change Your Situation

woman in white top sitting on window pane looking outside

Your problems won’t go away if you merely brush them under the carpet. Love shouldn’t hurt. Your partner shouldn’t cause you pain.

It’s as simple as that. These are signs that your relationship is toxic and abusive. 

And now you have two choices. The first one is staying with someone who diminishes you, puts you down, and causes you unhappiness. The second one is asking for help. 

Letting go is always the hardest and nobody is claiming that this is going to be easy. But if you’re finally ready to admit the reality of your situation, talk to someone you trust. 

Share your story and let them help you find a way out of this mess.

Don’t wait until tomorrow or the day after. NOW is the time to change your life for the better. You are not alone even if you think that you are. 

There are people out there willing to help you.

If you are in a toxic, violent relationship, turn to your loved ones or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They are here to help you.

See also: Why It’s Important To Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger