Abuse in a relationship should never be tolerated. However, you might be surprised by what constitutes an abusive relationship. You might think of abuse as physical, but hitting, slapping, and threats of harm are not the only kinds of maltreatment. Here are some subtle signs of abuse that should not be ignored.


1 Your feelings are invalidated on a regular basis

If a love interest ignores your feelings or suggests you are wrong to feel the way you do, he or she is inflicting emotional abuse. Even if such a person does not understand or agree with how you view a situation, that doesn’t make you wrong. If he or she walks away or gets mad when you cry, your feelings are being invalidated. A love interest who cares about you will listen to you and try to understand. He or she will not tell you you’re wrong, stupid, or emotional.


2 You are being called names

Name-calling is never an acceptable form of behavior in a relationship. If your love interest calls you a name for any reason, he or she is out of line. Whether you are being called a “baby” for crying or having derogatory names hurled at you when you’re having a fight, you are being abused. Even if you have gotten used to being called names throughout your relationship, it’s still wrong. You must stand up for yourself and make it clear that you will not tolerate being called names.


3 You are given the silent treatment as a form of punishment

While it is good to be able to retreat when an argument gets heated and take a time out, repeatedly giving a love interest the silent treatment (or threatening to leave or breakup) is usually a deliberate tactic that is intended to inflict pain. The message communicated is, “Unless you do things my way, you won’t receive love or will be abandoned.” It is passive aggressive and controlling behavior. Be determined to break the silence and let your partner know that this form of abuse will not be tolerated.


4 Your love interest disappears for long periods

If the person you are involved with disappears for long periods without contacting you, he or she is attempting to let you know that you are not a priority nor valued. Sometimes, it can even be a sign that the person you care for is seeing other women. While a person you are dating shouldn’t have to be in constant contact with you on a daily basis, if he or she is disappearing for days on end or not replying to messages, only to show up later acting like nothing is wrong, then this is a sign you are involved with someone abusive.


5 Your love interest sulks when he doesn’t get his way

Love interests who pout or give you the cold shoulder when they don’t get their way (or who get angry and say you don’t love him as much as they thought) are being manipulative. The point of getting upset with you is to make you feel guilty and give in. Don’t. If the person you are involved with finds this tactic works, he or she may be tempted to use it more often.


6 A love interest continues behavior you’ve asked him to stop

If the person you’re involved with refuses to stop doing something that offends you when asked, he or she is lording his power over you, takes pleasure in giving pain, or is making sure you know who’s boss. This can include a love interest thinking it is funny to call you a name you asked them to not call you, to tickle you when you don’t like being tickled, or to initiate sex or a sexual advance when you’ve already said “no.”


7 You frequently feel caught up in no-win situations and arguments

Double-bind situations are situations where you can’t win no matter what you do. They create anxiety for the target because, as humans, most of us have a natural desire to escape upsetting situations where another person can feel offended or we can feel hurt. One good example is below:

A man gets upset with his wife over her seeking employment. He states that he would prefer that she stay at home with the kids and let him support her. However, when the wife rejects the opportunity for employment in an effort to appease her husband, instead of being supportive, he regularly puts her down or complains about how she isn’t contributing financially.

There are many different types of situations where this kind of double-bind can occur. If you start to feel damned if you do and damned if you don’t on a regular basis, to the point it affects you sense of self-worth, this could be a sign that you are being abused.


8 He or she gaslights you

When a love interest gaslights you, he or she is attempting to make you feel crazy. One example is when a love interest accuses their partner of being crazy, paranoid, and imagining things for confronting situations where their is a valid reason for concern (financially, with infidelity, or with something else that is being hidden). This type of abuse is usually intended to wear the target down so that he or she either accepts unacceptable behavior without question or will remain blind to something hidden. If you are going through this and finding that you are starting to doubt yourself or feel crazy, then you may be in an abusive relationship.


9 He or she is dishonest or takes advantage of you

While it is natural that people withhold the truth or lie a little in relationships, if it is becoming a problem, or you are dealing with infidelity or other betrayals, you are being abused. This includes financial forms of dishonesty such as hiding money from you, stealing from you, or taking unfair financial advantage. If you start feeling taken advantage of on a regular basis, it could be you are in an abusive relationship.

It’s not uncommon for people to view abuse only as physical violence. But abuse affects more than the body. Any behavior that seeks to manipulate, insult, or harm you in any way is abusive, and therefore, unacceptable.