5 Subtle Signs of an Abusive Relationship (with Podcast Audio Episode #8).

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

The effects of emotional abuse aren't always visible like a bruise or physical injury, so it often goes unnoticed and ignored – even by the victim. Emotional abusers are master manipulators, and they frequently condition their victims to brush off their unacceptable behaviors. Society has also normalized unhealthy behaviors, so people might not understand whether they are in a toxic relationship or not. We made an online assessment to answer that crucial question: "Am I in an Abusive Relationship?" This way you can assess your situation and current circumstances. This is a useful tool to gain clarity so that you can take back control of your life. If your score is high, and you're having trouble accepting that you're in an abusive relationship, you're not alone.


Abusers don't want you to know that their behaviors and actions are abusive, because that will empower you. Not only do they want to keep a firm hold on the relationship dynamics, but they also will use every tool at their disposal to make their victims believe that they had brought the abuse onto themselves.


Denial is the enemy to growth and change.

While abusive partners create an unstable environment, their actions and behaviors cause the victims to doubt themselves. This ultimately leads to denial, which is the enemy to growth and change. If you can't decide to change your current circumstances, you won't be able to break free and unlock your full potential.


Emotional, financial, sexual, physical, verbal, and even identity abuse are real and present in many relationships. In this article, we look at 5 subtle warning signs present in abusive relationships. We also have a thorough checklist for you to download when leaving the toxic relationship so that you can also live a healthy and fulfilled life.


5 Subtle Signs of an Abusive Relationship

1. Your partner gaslights you so that you doubt your own memories.

Gaslighting is when someone manipulates a person into questioning his/her own sanity. To maintain the upper hand in the relationship, the abuser intentionally confuses you by denying previous events or incidents. This causes you to doubt your own 'version of events,' which could lead to future concessions. You might start to believe the distorted “truths," which is also known as false beliefs.


2. Your partner needs to know about your whereabouts 24/7.

You might feel flattered that this person wants to know that you're "safe," but unfortunately this is far from the truth. Needing to know your every move has to do with their need for control and power. If your partner is calling you even though they know you're in an important meeting, if they don't respect your boundaries, their "check-ins" are much more disturbing than you think. They're robbing you from your personal space by being overly possessive. This behavior can turn into damaging patterns, which could cause your psychological health to suffer.

3. The abuser playfully and casually embarrasses you in public, then says "it was just a joke.”

It’s true what they say: sticks and stones may break bones, but truth be told, words hurt just as much. Has your partner told you that you're “too sensitive” after raising your concerns regarding his/her tactless or insensitive comments? Public humiliation is a large red flag of an abusive relationship. Concealing abuse as "a joke" is usually one of the earliest signs of abuse. Telling you to "not be so uptight' is their way of having you brush off alarming behavior, which will lead to them getting away with it. Unfortunately brushing off hurtful jokes only feeds your denial. Don't wait for your abuser to (accidentally) break through your denial, because it'll require an atrocious event or incident to happen. Break through that denial yourself so that you can take the necessary steps to leave the toxic environment.


Don't wait for your abuser to (accidentally) break through your denial, because it'll require an atrocious event or incident to happen. Break through that denial yourself - Danielle Esplin.

4. You used to be independent, but now you're anxiously trying to please people.

Do you feel like you're frequently walking on eggshells? People pleasing is different than generosity. Generosity comes from a healthy self-regard and a genuine happiness gained from sharing. People pleasing comes from a low self-regard and the need for others’ approval. People pleasing is a terrible investment because it depletes your most valuable resources: your time and energy. This might also be a sign that you base your sense of self on your abusive partner's opinions.


You need to put yourself first, work on being more assertive, set healthy boundaries, and you have to practice saying "no." Measuring ones own worth based on other’s expectations, judgments, and responsibilities, is you handing your psychological health over to someone else's hands. You need to take back control of your life. You're in charge.


Measuring ones own worth based on other’s expectations, judgments and responsibilities, is you handing your psychological health over to someone else's hands.

5. You feel sorry for your partner, plagued with concerns about what might happen to him/her if you leave.

I'm going to say this again: abusers are master manipulators. They will use your emphatic abilities to their advantage. They'll use their childhood experiences or current struggles as an excuse for their toxic behavior. This leads to you trying to relate and connect on a deeper level, while they're actually using this tactic to get away with their unacceptable behaviors. Instead of feeling sorry for them, ask yourself: Can I relate to their pain? If so, did I turn out to be an abuser? Is that really an excuse to break others down to the point of psychological warfare?


There’s No Dark Side to Empathy, Just People with Dark Sides.

If these subtle signs of abuse look familiar to you, it's time to re-evaluate your situation and come up with a plan so that you can also live a life free of toxicity. It takes the average person 7-8 times to finally leave an abusive relationship. There are many reasons why this might be a challenge. Mostly it's because the the victim is confused, and they second-guess their decisions due to the manipulation and threats made by their partners.

The Bulletproof Club, will not allow victims to become comfortable in their discomfort. We're here to guide through the process so that you can attain psychological freedom.

Regardless of where you are in your journey or expedition, we put together a thorough list of things you can do & pack when leaving an abusive relationship. Our checklist is ready for you to utilize so that you can ensure that you're safe during this process. Our goal is to have our clients leave once, and for them to stand firmly on their own feet, growing back into the independent and strong individuals they were before the abuse started. It's important to note why it's so hard to leave for those who have endured trauma at the hands of a loved one. Here's a live segment we did last Thursday which you can watch to understand the psychology behind it. The more you know, the stronger you'll be when taking this life-changing step.


Leaving an abusive relationship can be very dangerous. So make sure you have a plan! Download our free checklist seen on the left to help you through this process. Your safety must always come first.


The Bulletproof Club has two support groups. You can find our support group on Facebook, and our other support group on our App where you can utilize our free resources, access our gallery and be part of our online community.


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Danielle Esplin


Copyright 2019 | Email: myabuseprogram@gmail.com

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