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Identifying an Abusive Relationship and Getting Out of It

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Abusive relationships are profoundly distressing and leave emotional and sometimes

physical scars on the individuals involved. The negative impact of such relationships can

extend far beyond the time spent within them, affecting mental and emotional well-being.

Recognising the signs of an abusive relationship is crucial for healing and recovery.

Abusive relationships come in various forms of harm, including emotional, physical, sexual,

and psychological abuse. Emotional abuse, in particular, is a precursor to other types of

abuse. Emotional abuse involves the persistent mistreatment of an individual through

behaviours such as humiliation, manipulation, and control aimed at undermining the

victim’s self-worth and limiting autonomy.

Recognising potential indicators of an abusive relationship includes:

• Feeling intimidated by your partner's anger.

• Hesitating to express disagreement with your partner, accompanied by a sense of

guilt when you do.

• Experiencing physical harm, such as being pushed, kicked, or subjected to other

forms of physical abuse by your partner.

• Being restricted from seeing friends and family due to your partner's jealousy or


• Frequently enduring harsh criticism, disrespectful language, and name-calling from

your partner.

• Feeling compelled to acquiesce to your partner's desires, be it attending events,

engaging in activities, or engaging in sexual activities, and fearing saying "no".

• Having to provide constant explanations regarding your whereabouts, activities, and

the people you interact with to appease your partner's anger.

• Observing that your partner exercises greater control over your finances than you


• Spending a significant amount of time apologising and making promises to your


Recognising these signs is crucial for individuals who suspect they might be in an abusive

relationship, as well as for friends and family who want to support their loved ones in such

situations. Therapy can play a pivotal role in assisting victims of abuse in several ways. Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for survivors to share their experiences and feelings.

Therapists can also educate individuals about the dynamics of abusive relationships, helping

them recognise the signs and patterns of abuse. Although the recovery process can be

challenging, therapy can provide the tools and strategies needed to heal from the trauma of

abuse. Therapy may involve an integration of talk therapy with trauma-informed therapy

customised to the individual needs. Well-researched trauma-informed therapy includes

EMDR, Brainspotting, Somatic Experiencing and Expressive Therapy. Joining a therapy

support group is also beneficial for mutual support and healing.

Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre which provides counselling and psychotherapy services for anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and various mental health and

relationship challenges. Our clients include children, youth, and adults from diverse social,

cultural and religious backgrounds. For more information, please visit or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite

you to join our telegram group,

Additional Read:

Keywords: abusive relationships, physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, well-being, self-

worth, trauma, EMDR, Brainspotting, somatic experiencing, group therapy, recovery,



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