Whilst there might be one big occasion where you realise that your relationship is abusive, there could have been many more little warning signs that happened before that could have alerted you much sooner. Knowing the small signs of abusive relationships could be the key to getting out early before damage is really caused, whether it’s to yourself or someone else you know. Making yourself aware of these things could potentially make a big difference to someone’s life.

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These are early signs of abusive relationships that you need to look out for.

The relationship moves really fast

While it can be completely normal for relationships to move quickly if you’re both on the same page, for some people they could feel like they’re being pushed with their feelings by their partner. They could say they love you really quickly, want to move in together, or even propose marriage in such a short space of time.

If you feel at all overwhelmed by the relationships, it’s important that you make your feelings known. And trust your gut, if you don’t feel ready to move forward with the relationships then don’t, no matter how much they might try and pressure you.

Jealousy is a big issue

Whilst at first you might think it’s nice that they’re a little concerned about other men or women looking at you, after a while jealously can take over and become a huge drain on your energy and the relationship.

They’ll start being worried about the people you’re around, constantly call or text you, try to be around you all of the time, and maybe even start accusing you of cheating on them.

And they’ll try to make out like they’re only doing it for you, and because they love you so much.

They start to check up on you

Whether it’s looking at your phone, checking your emails, social media or speaking to other people to check to see you are where you say you are, these are all big warning signs that something isn’t quite right in the relationship. You shouldn’t feel like you have to give them an hour-by-hour account of your day.

They put you down

It’s normal to want to make an effort when you’re seeing your partner, especially in first stages of a relationship. And we might put a little more effort into planning dates or small gestures to make them feel good. But if they’re putting you down, whether it’s how you look, or the things you’re doing, this could be a sign of what’s to come. If you feel pressured into meeting an unattainable standard, or you feel at all degraded, it might be time to assess your relationship.

You feel like there are two sides to them

One side might be sweet and loving, the other side can be nasty, make snide comments or pick away at you. And they’ll make you feel like the bad side of them is only coming out because of your behaviour, and if you make a change they’ll be the loving person you really want.

They try to isolate you

It’s likely they’ll try to isolate you from claiming they don’t like your family or friends, they’ll want to keep you to themselves so they won’t make much effort with the other people in your life so you feel like you can only be with one or the other.

This isolation from your support network can be really detrimental as abuse escalates in any relationship, because it’ll make you feel like you can’t talk to people.

They criticise your spending

They might start to make comments on the money you spend, whether or not you actually spend a lot. Any little indulgence you have, whether it is a new coat or a cup of coffee, they’ll try to make you feel bad about it.

The guilt will start to eat up at you, and it’s likely you’ll feel guilty buying yourself anything at all. In the end, they might to try to take full control of your finances.

Who you can turn to?

If you feel like any of these points above relate to you or someone else that you love, there are plenty of people you can speak to, whether it’s someone you know or not.

If you’re not ready to share what’s happening to you with a family member or friend, you might want to call someone like Refuge or Women’s Aid who can help. For men you can phone Men’s Advice Line and if you’re in a LGBT relationship you can get in contact with Galop UK.

For those who are in an abusive relationship, you could be entitled to compensation, in a scheme that’s run by the government. If you’d like to find out more information about this, you can get in touch with CICA UK (http://www.cica-uk.co.uk/) who can help get your claim started.

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  1. Wow! Such an amazing and helpful article for me and for many other women. I have experienced all of these things in past relationships as well as my last situation! I only wish I had stumbled upon this post before getting involved with the last guy. I now know what to look out for in future relationships!

  2. This is such a difficult topic, but an amazing post about it. Abusive relationship escalate so quickly and really need to be dealt with head on and talked about. Thank you for this.

  3. Thank you for sharing! Thankfully, I’ve never been in a relationship like this but now I know what to look out for. I hope that if anything like this is happening to anyone who is reading this, that you seek help. It’s NOT ok and you shouldn’t have to put up with it!

  4. I feel like I could write a book on this subject – I have endured not one, but three abusive relationships.

    I definitely agree with the isolating part – and the more they gaslight you about how awful your friends and family are, the more you start to agree with them. So you push those people away and then suddenly you have no one left to listen to you vent or ask for help. It can be very lonely and frightening.

    Many abusers do flip-flop – they’ll be very sweet to you for a bit to get you to open up and drop your guard and then come the insults. Sometimes they’re mean and direct, other times it can be as subtle as “Oh, you forgot to unload the dishwasher again. No, it’s okay – I’ll do it. Just be better next time, okay?”

    Sounds pretty innocuous right? But you soon learn that ANY minor slip up after that ONE WARNING will land you in a world of insults, screaming, and threats. No bueno.

    A lot of abusers are deeply insecure and they feel better (temporarily) by bringing you down to their level and making you feel bad too. Some of them have substance abuse issues you won’t know about until it’s too late and they use that as an excuse for repeated bad behavior. YOU are always….always supposed to be the one who “saves them” and if you fail at that, it means you don’t love them or you don’t care about them enough.

    It is always about them. None of your dreams, goals, issues, trauma, etc matter, it just gets in the way of all the attention they want and desperately need.

    As a three-time survivor I can only say one thing: Get out. Just leave. I chose homelessness over being pushed to the point of wanting to die. It is always better to be on your own and in charge of your own destiny than with someone who will do awful things to shape your destiny for you.

    1. I agree completely. Especially about the subtle remarks – I never thought that one time I forgot to do the washing up would have me in tears. Insults and shouting were very common after that. I’m glad I got out (this time last year).

  5. Wow, this is a really difficult post to read – even the tiniest of things that I might not have considered are definitely wrong. Hate to say it but I’m sure I know plenty of people in relationships like this… x

  6. Whenever someone has tried to manipulate me or get me all to themselves, they always try to turn me against my best friend by saying not to trust her, or dismissing her etc, there was attempts to isolate me from the rest of my friends but obviously the person closet to me if the biggest threat to an abuser.
    Thank you for this post, so many people are in unhealthy relationships and don’t realise how toxic is it!

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