What is an abusive relationship? Signs, report, how to get out

Relationships are complicated, whether they are loving, between parents and children, between friends, with co-workers, teachers or among any people without an emotional bond.

We are complex, different, we diverge opinions and beliefs. Most of the time, as civilized as we are, these relationships become easier, or at least appear to be.

Abuses can be present in all relationships, but as we approach a date like Valentine’s Day, a focus on the violence present in a love relationship is necessary.

June 12th is indeed a very important date and it has a message of value behind it. After all, paying tribute to those we love and choose to be by our side is something special.

More special than that is putting self love first and being aware of what a healthy relationship is.

Therefore, we will delve into an unromantic theme: abusive relationships.

In this article, we will discuss a little more about the topic and analyze the attitudes, behaviors and feelings that involve an unhealthy relationship. Good reading!

What is an abusive relationship?

In theory, a loving relationship should be something healthy, pleasurable, full of good feelings and companionship.

Fortunately, many people manage to maintain such a love. Unfortunately, others are trapped in an abusive relationship. And the worst, they often do not realize.

When it comes to abusive relationships, it is common for people to imagine the loving relationship between a couple, especially the relationship in which the man is an abuser and the woman is the victim.

This example is very common, but abuse also happens with the reversal of these roles. Women can also be abusive.

Therefore, it is worth remembering that abusive relationships can happen in any type of relationship, be it loving, between friends, professional or family.

Recognizing that this happens in different environments is an important step in being able to identify and change them. These changes are not always easy.

You have to get away. Being in an abusive relationship is not healthy mentally and physically. People who are in such a relationship can even get sick.

In these situations it is common for the victim to feel bad about himself, to suffer from low self-esteem , insecurity, anxiety or depression .

The abuser is the one who manipulates, controls, causes humiliating situations for the victim, uses them and always makes them feel bad.

The aggressions present in this type of relationship can be different from one to the other and this can make it even more difficult for victims to recognize the signs.

For the abusive partner to always be in control of the relationship he may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Emotional abuse;
  • Verbal aggressions;
  • Stalker;
  • Economic abuse, in which it controls the victim’s money or prevents him from working and studying;
  • Physical abuse (physical violence) and aggressive behaviors such as kicking doors, punching objects, etc .;
  • Threats;
  • Sexual assault or sexual violence.

Signs of an abusive relationship

Often abusive attitudes are confused or considered as just a display of love and care.

The person who is being abused, because he is in a vulnerable and fragile situation, is sometimes unable to discern the signs that he is in an abusive relationship.

We have separated some indications that can help in this process of “discovery” and that serve as a warning for abusive situations on a daily basis.

When identifying with some of the topics, we advise you to take a moment to reflect on why this is happening, to talk to someone you trust and seek help.

Make sure your partner:

Makes you feel ridiculed

Within your relationship, it is common for you to feel ridiculed. Perhaps you have been in situations where your partner laughed at you or made you the subject of jokes that made you uncomfortable.

Demonstrates insecurity and excessive jealousy

One of the main characteristics attributed to the profile of an abuser is insecurity and extreme jealousy.

These two personality traits of an abusive person are factors that contribute to the other signs happening, such as the act of controlling all the actions of the other, intimidation, blackmail and emotional games to make the victim feel guilty.

Makes you think you’re crazy

Somehow, your partner makes you think that all the problems in the relationship are crazy in your head or when you question an attitude he points to you and says he is crazy.

Say no one will ever love you

Has your partner ever said phrases like “if you leave me, you’ll never find someone better”, “nobody will ever love you” or “nobody will ever want you”? You don’t have to stop long to think about how abusive these phrases are.

A healthy relationship is not built with threats like these.

Makes you walk away from people

Think about whether your partner ever made you walk away from someone, whether you walked away from your friends and family for them, or whether they put restrictions on the number of times you want to go out with your friends.

Often, the abusive person causes this isolation from the victim. Thus, feeling alone and having only her partner by her side, she may feel even more fragile and dependent on this harmful relationship.

Makes you feel inferior and not happy for your achievements

How does your partner react to your achievements and the good things that happen in your life? In a healthy relationship, it is normal for the partner to be happy and celebrate your victories with you.

It is important to notice your partner’s reaction in those moments, if he is happy for you or if your achievements are diminished, if it makes you feel that what happened is nothing too much and that it doesn’t even deserve celebration.

If you start to feel that you are not good enough and begin to question your ability for comments from your partner, it is important to rethink the relationship.

These actions do not always happen during a fight. Sometimes they are present in subtle signs, unassuming comments, but that somehow affect you.

This does not mean that your partner will look at you and say “wow, how stupid are you”, but if you are afraid to say something because you feel you will be devalued or diminished, that everything you say is not good enough, watch for this sign.

Makes you feel helpless

It is common for the abuser within the relationship to have attitudes that make the victim feel incapable. He can use speeches that make his partner feel inferior and that leads him to see the abuser always as the superior figure.

Phrases such as “you are not good at this”, “give up, it is not for you”, “you did not do anything right” and others of the same kind may be present within this sign of abusive relationship.

In this way, the victim sinks into negative feelings, feeling incapable, stupid and insufficient.

Controls all your actions

With your partner, do you always feel in control, as if you have analyzed all your steps, thoughts and attitudes?

Notice how controlling your partner is in relation to your actions, the people you hang out with and the people you talk to.

Also, deep down, do you know that this control is not a healthy concern, but a way of manipulating you? These signs are crucial to understanding whether your relationship is toxic.

Be aware of comments such as permissions for places to go, who to talk to, how to behave and other limitations imposed by your partner.

Says what you should wear

Have you ever changed your clothes before leaving home because you knew that the choice would displease your partner? Have you heard comments regarding the size of a skirt, or have you heard that the dress was too tight or low-cut?

For some people, this type of comment is interpreted as a sign of jealousy, and may even be considered normal, but it is not. This is a specific sign that is implicit in an abuser’s controlling personality.

It’s threatening

A very important sign to be able to understand if your relationship is abusive implies the presence of a very bad feeling: fear.

If ever, any action or comment from your partner made you feel afraid of him, it is a great warning that the relationship is not going well at all.

For psychologists who follow up on abusive relationships, intimidation and threat are considered common resources among abusers.

Some phrases with a threatening tone, such as “if you don’t do this …” or “if you do such a thing …”, “it is better for you to do what I am saying …”, may be present in the toxic relationship.

These are always conditions that the victim must meet and that are always accompanied by a kind of “punishment”. If your partner threatens to leave you and uses your feelings for him to get what he wants, your relationship is abusive.

Demonstrates exaggerated reactions

It is important to note whether the partner shows exaggerated and explosive reactions to some situations that can easily be taken in another way.

If the victim does something considered simple and the abuser takes advantage of that situation to set up a fight and reacts in an ignorant or violent way, it is a sign that it is better to walk away.

It is necessary that the feelings you have for your partner do not make you unable to perceive when a disproportionate reaction to what happened happens. To make mistakes is normal for human beings, but it is necessary to deal with these errors in a rational way.

Don’t respect when you say “no”

No, a word, three small letters and a meaning. It seems simple, but it seems that it is always necessary to reinforce what it means, even within a relationship.

Pay attention to how much your partner respects you when you refuse something. It is common in abusive relationships even that the abuser forces the victim into sexual intercourse.

It is not difficult to find reports of people who said they had sex with their partner because they felt manipulated, threatened or blackmailed. This is abusive and even a crime, as sex without consent is considered rape, even if it happens within a relationship.

It’s aggressive

This is a serious warning sign. A relationship where aggressions happen is extremely abusive.

And in this case, it is not just physical aggression, but moral and psychological as well. All of the signs listed above are a form of aggression.

If you are in a relationship where violence has become more serious, know that it is possible to seek help from NGOs that can welcome you and there are laws to protect these cases, such as the Maria da Penha law. Report it.

Don’t feel alone at that moment, try to talk to someone you trust or call 180, the Women’s Service Center.

Report: what is it like to live in an abusive relationship?

Even if people who are seeing the signs of abuse from the outside are obvious, it is not always easy for the victim to recognize these problems. In addition, not every abusive relationship starts off bad.

At first, things may seem to be going well, as it was for Thalia Chiquetano, 20, who has been in an abusive relationship for 1 year.

“In the first months, everything was perfect: he always wanted to see me, he always bought me things even if I tried to refuse, he was loving, attentive and everything you dream of in a relationship. We got engaged. I was sure I wanted to marry him, because there would never be someone as perfect for me as he was. Until he started to show himself as another person ” , he says.

Gradually, his abusive partner was changing and having attitudes that undermined his self-esteem and confidence.

“He made me jealous all the time, even though he knew how insecure I am and how bad it made me, ignoring every time I asked him to stop. It offended me, calling me stupid. Several times, when I confronted him about something he had done that bothered me, he was able to turn the tables and make me apologize for something he had done.

For the past three months, dating was hell. He made excuses for not seeing me, went out every week and only came back at dawn, didn’t kiss me, much less touch me.

I started to think about what I could have done, constantly apologizing for anything I could be doing. I felt wrong to be jealous of the dating app installed on his cell phone, not to like girls sending intimate photos and that he didn’t even make an effort to cut these attitudes, or even to be hurt that he showed these conversations in a debauched tone to me.

I was sad all the time, and I was crying constantly. I didn’t even have the strength to do anything simple, like taking off my pajamas and putting on normal clothes ”.

There is nothing romantic or healthy about relationships like this. For the victim, the end of the abusive relationship came after many tears were shed. Even months after the end of the relationship, the scars remained. It took some time to get over it.

“If I could talk to every person who goes through this situation, I would like to say just one thing: if you identified with only 1% of what I went through, or if you read this testimony and this post and had any questions about your I’m sorry to inform you, but it is very likely that you are living in an abusive relationship.

Abuse is not just a physical force, it can also destroy your psychological. No matter how you feel about the person, don’t be afraid to finish something that doesn’t do you good. The right person is out there, waiting for you; make sure that you are not to blame for anything, and that you do not deserve all the harm that is going on. No relationship should destroy you from the inside out .

Today I’m dating again, and for the first time after so long, I finally feel like I’m happy. There is respect, affection and love, but sometimes there are conflicts – after all, real dating has its pros and cons. And my mistake was believing that what I had with my ex was literally perfect ”.

Differences between healthy and abusive relationships

We put side by side some characteristics of a healthy relationship and some abusive attitudes, to allow a comparison between these extremes.

A healthy relationship works as follows:

  • They talk openly about their feelings and thoughts;
  • There is trust and therefore neither of them controls where the other is and with whom he is;
  • There is respect for the moments when the partner wants to be alone, with friends or family;
  • Do not curse you and much less attack you;
  • Conflicts are resolved in a respectful manner, without aggression, cursing or competitiveness;
  • There is respect for the privacy of the other;
  • There are no attempts to change or control the partner;
  • There are no threats or fear, as your partner is always caring and understanding;
  • There are no impositions on what the other should or should not wear;
  • There is respect when the other says “no”, especially when the other is not in the mood to have sex;
  • The two celebrate each other’s achievements together;
  • Nobody tries to humiliate, ridicule or diminish their partner in any way;
  • The two make important decisions together;
  • Demonstrations of admiration and praise are always present;
  • One is always encouraging the other and there is no criticism that is not constructive;
  • Encourages the partner to study and work and does not interfere with what he does with his own money;
  • It does not try to attain, in any way, the self-esteem and confidence of the partner.

All of these actions are part of building a mature, balanced and pleasant relationship for both.

Therefore, opposing actions indicate that it is necessary to review the behavior of any of the parties. Between them:

  • When there is a dialogue, it is to try to make the other person feel guilty for what he is feeling;
  • It tells you who you should or shouldn’t talk to or go out with. There is no trust and therefore requires the partner to prove where he is and what he is doing;
  • Forbids the partner to go out alone or with friends;
  • It constantly offends you and tries to control you using physical force;
  • It is explosive and jealous. “Take the anger out” by kicking doors, chairs or punching objects, which makes you feel afraid;
  • Control all your social networks to see who you chat with. It forbids friendships and is always trying to invade your privacy;
  • You are always saying how bad you are, shoot offenses and say that no one will love you;
  • It is always explosive, which makes you feel afraid of your reactions, which implies verbal, emotional and physical aggressions;
  • It forbids you to wear certain clothes that you don’t like;
  • It does not respect when the partner says “no”. Forces the partner to have sex or to do things that they are not comfortable with;
  • Demonstrates envy of the partner and tries to diminish its achievements;
  • He humiliates, ridicules and is always trying to show himself superior to his partner;
  • There is no dialogue, even in moments of decisions that affect both;
  • He is always criticizing his partner. It always points to defects wanting to diminish it, makes jokes about the appearance of the other;
  • There is no support, only frequent criticism;
  • Financially controls the partner, sometimes preventing him from working and studying;
  • It makes you think you are crazy and says things that undermine your self-esteem.

How to get out of an abusive relationship?

It is not easy to understand and accept that, in some way, you are stuck in an abusive relationship. For those who managed to go through this stage, the next one is also not simple.

Many outsiders may question, by common sense, why the victims just don’t leave. The answer to that question involves a number of factors.

Often, the victim’s love for the abuser inhibits her from making a decision, leaving her paralyzed in the face of this situation. There are also people who are afraid of the abusive partner’s reaction, which makes everything more delicate.

The victim does not always know that he is in an abusive relationship, as he is too involved in this violent and harmful relationship that ends up naturalizing the partner’s actions.

In addition, some signs of abuse are subtle, which makes it even more difficult to perceive the psychological aggression that the victim suffers.

However, even with all the difficulties of that moment, some steps can be followed:

Understand and seek change

The first step in getting out of an abusive relationship is to realize that you are in a relationship like that. Second, you need to want to change this situation, because just being aware of the abuses and continuing in this relationship is not enough to bring your happiness and a healthy relationship.

Talk to your partner

Talk openly with your partner, without accusations and heated discussions, to clarify and understand why the relationship has reached this point. If the person in an abusive position is willing to change to continue in that relationship, the two will need to work together for the relationship to work.

This is not easy. This transformation is only possible when the person who is in an abusive position really wants to change, as it is an inside-out process. The victim is not able to change it, only he can promote it.

However, if your partner cannot see his attitudes as abusive, or perceives and does not want to change, the victim needs to understand that there is nothing to be done but to leave.

Understand that the problem is not you

Within the abusive relationship, it is common for the abuser to manipulate the victim’s feelings so that he feels guilty.

It is very important to understand that abuse does not happen because of the victim, but that something needs to be changed in the attitudes of the person who is in the position of abuser.

Talk to people you trust

Ask for help and seek the company of people who do you good. Overcoming an abusive relationship is not easy, so join the people you trust to talk about what was going on and to strengthen yourself in that moment.


The accompaniment of a psychologist can be very positive in this process where the victim is getting rid of the abusive relationship. In a vulnerable time like this, just the support of friendly people may not be enough for her to make it through this phase.

In addition, the abuse suffered by the victim can lead to depression or anxiety, which need to be monitored by a professional who knows how to provide specific care for the patient’s mental health .

Talk to people who have gone through the same

Knowing and listening to someone who has gone through the same problem and has managed to overcome an abusive relationship can be one of the most important steps in successfully leaving that relationship behind.

Recognizing the same suffering in another person and seeing that even with the end everything will be okay can be one of the impulses for the victim to be able to act and get out of the abusive relationship.

Unfortunately it is not difficult to find people who have been there, as it is much more common than you think. So, seek out these people, listen to what they have to say and ask for help to find the best solution for your case.

Be empowered

Don’t let your abusive partner’s emotional blackmail make you give up your happiness and self-love. Do not believe that without it you will be alone forever and that other people can appreciate and love you in a healthy way.

Try to carry out activities that do you good and that you may have left out because of the relationship. Go out with your friends and family to have fun and believe that the suffering of the breakup will pass, however difficult it is now.

In the meantime, try to strengthen your self-esteem and don’t let this bad experience affect you even more.

How to help someone who is in this situation?

A very present question when it comes to abusive relationships is when and to what extent anyone who is looking from the outside can step in to try to help.

We always hear things like “in a husband and wife fight, don’t pick the spoon”, but when we say that we simplify a situation that can be much more serious than you think, with physical and psychological aggressions that can lead the victim to have sequelae serious.

So, if you know someone who is in an abusive situation, don’t expect them to notice on their own. It doesn’t always happen. The abuser can involve her in such a way that she normalizes all aggressions and still blames herself for it.

Some things can be done by those who are following the relationship from the outside:

Offer help

Empathy is essential for those who are close to these people, so offer your help. This means being present in the person’s life even if they do not accept it when you say that they are in an abusive relationship. Each person takes time to understand.

If you are available to go out with her, say that she can count on your help, this help being a friendly shoulder to cry on or even to offer shelter, as many people are financially dependent on the abuser and things can get more complicated.

Be patient and don’t judge

Understand that people take a different time to understand when they are in an abusive relationship and it is much easier for those outside the relationship to realize, as the victim is emotionally involved with their partner.

Don’t say things like “he’s with him because he wants to”, “if he really wanted to, he was finished”. Do not judge the victim’s position in relation to the abuser. Just be present and friendly and offer help for what she needs.

Put that person in contact with others who have gone through the same

Present or show cases of people who have experienced the same problem to your friend who is in an abusive relationship. Hearing from other people who have lived the same can help.

Don’t blame her

Finally, never blame the victim . Do not say that she is in this relationship because she wants to or because she deserves it. However close to the person you are, you are not fully aware of what happens between them and the abuser. At that moment, the victim needs help, acceptance and empathy.

The intention of this article is that more people can reflect on these abuses, often normalized by society, seen as gestures of jealousy and concern. Also to reinforce that it is not the victim’s fault and that it is possible to help these people.

If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, ask for help! Don’t give up on being happy and seeking a healthy relationship. Love must be shared and not imprisoned in harmful attitudes like those listed in this article.