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38% of Texas women have experienced intimate partner violence. The Family Place keeps victims safe and works to prevent family violence.

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Something’s just not right in your relationship, and you can’t put your finger on it.

If your partner displays a combination of these behaviors, then you may be getting involved with a potential batterer. If your partner hits you in public, tries to strangle you or threatens suicide, get help immediately. These are warning signs of extreme danger.

Warning signs of an abusive personality

  1. Gets too close too fast. Comes on strong claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.” An abuser pressures for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
  2. Is excessively possessive. Calls constantly or visits unexpectedly. Prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone,” and even checks the mileage on your car.
  3. Is controlling. Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about where you were and who else was there. Insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything.
  4. Has unrealistic expectations. Expects you to be perfect all the time and meet every need no matter how unreasonable.
  5. Isolates you. Tries to cut you off from family and friends and accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble.” An abuser may try to prevent you from holding a job, going to church or being part of school organizations.
  6. Blames others for problems and mistakes. The teacher, the coach, you—it’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.
  7. Refuses to take personal responsibility for feelings. An abuser says, “You make me angry.” instead of, “I am angry.” Less obvious but equally telling is the claim: “You make me happy.”
  8. Is hypersensitive. Claims, “You hurt my feelings.” when anger is the real emotion. Rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.
  9. Is cruel to animals. May include excessive punishing, hurting or even killing.
  10. Displays “playful” use of force. Enjoys throwing you down or holding you against your will. Forces you to kiss and doesn’t’ accept no for an answer.
  11. Verbally assaults. Constantly criticizes you or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things. Degrades you, curses and calls you ugly names. If it begins to happen in front of other people, then you are at risk for physical abuse.
  12. Insists on rigid roles. “Men are strong.” “Women are weak.” He expects you to serve and obey because you are “his woman.” She expects you to control and handle everything because you are “her man.”
  13. Displays sudden mood swings. Quickly switches from sweetly loving to explosively violent.
  14. Has battered in the past. Admits to hitting partners in the past but blames it on someone or something else.
  15. Threatens you with physical violence. Says things like, “I’ll break your neck.” or “I’ll kill you.” followed by, “Everybody talks that way.” or “I didn’t’ really mean it.” If the verbal abuse has come this far, it’s time to get out and get help.

This information was adapted from “Signs to Look for in a Battering Personality,” a Project for Victims of Family Violence in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

24-hour Crisis Hotline: 214-941-1991



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