RUN AWAY: 30 Huge Red Flags That You’re In An Abusive Relationship

Illustration by Daniella Urdinlaiz
Found on AskReddit.

1. When you find yourself not telling friends or family about things your SO has done/the way you’re being treated.

“When you find yourself not telling friends or family about things your SO has done/the way you’re being treated because ‘they wouldn’t understand’ and you don’t want to make your SO look bad.”


2. When there are all these ‘rules’ you don’t know about until you break them.

“There were all of these unspoken ‘rules’ I didn’t know about until I would incur his wrath for breaking them.”


3. When you’re crying and they tell you to shut up.

“I was crying in front of him and he just told me to shut up :/.”


4. When they take pleasure in your pain.

“When she genuinely chuckled at the sight of me crying and being upset, and then vigorously tried to hide it.

Her genuine reaction showed me she was excited at my pain. Then I realized throughout the relationship, she would cause pain, then make me feel like an asshole for feeling emotions because it made her feel guilt and she didn’t like that so fuck me for not being a cyborg.

I’m not kidding, after that moment I noped the fuck out of that relationship.”


5. When they say mean things and then brush it off as teasing.

“He would say mean things and then brush it off as teasing. Yet he was extremely sensitive to being teased, even in a gentle way. He did not see this in himself at all.
The complete inability to manage emotional conflict and lack of self-awareness are the damning things about this. A normal person either quits teasing people or lightens up.”


6. When they love-bomb you at first.

“Love-bombing is often a precursor to an emotionally abusive relationship. It seems like your partner is really into you because they go overboard on the gifts and sweet nothings, and often times that’s how they win you over and get you hooked.

When this happened to me, of course I enjoyed the attention at first, but as soon as I agreed to be in a serious relationship with him, he stopped the cute texts, started withholding physical affection, and manipulated me into thinking I was crazy and the one ruining our relationship. Please be careful.”


7. When all of your friends and family dislike them.

“When all of my friends and family disliked him.

When he would build me up as being perfect, treating me like a ‘princess’ (his words) etc. so that yanking me off that pedestal when I did something wrong (like talk to a friend) was worse and I would be all the more keen to get back in to his good books.

When I heard rumors he had been abusive to others.

When he threatened me with a knife.

I’m sure others here will know that sadly it takes more than one red flag, and sometimes you don’t even know they are red flags until you are out of it!”


8. When they start to separate you from your friends.

“They start to separate you from your friends and family. First they don’t like your mom much. Then they don’t like her a lot. Then they don’t like when you talk to her. Rinse and repeat for everyone who can ‘help’ you in any way so you are basically alone, no help, no way to escape them.

Same thing with gas lighting. They make you feel like everything you do is irrational, and that others don’t like you and won’t help you, that everyone is out to get you and that you’re not worth helping.

It’s a pretty solid plan if you want to abuse someone and make them your property. If you see this happening to you, it’s a good that the person you’re with isn’t good for you.”


9. When they check up so much on you, it becomes harassment.

“Went with a friend to dinner that lasted longer than usual because we were catching up. Left the restaurant to tons of text and calls. When I called back he was fuming. We had only been seeing each other about a month at that point.”


10. When they start trying to isolate you from your family.

“When he started trying to isolate me from my family. I had already moved out of the house to live with him, but my family lived just a couple exits up the highway so I still saw them frequently. He would make snide comments about my little sister and always try to find ways to put my father down (my dad is a colonel in the army, my ex was an enlisted soldier and he always had a bit of an insecurity complex about officers vs enlisted.) If he had plans to go out, I would make plans to see my family and then he would cancel his plans and urge me to cancel mine. He never wanted me to go to their house anymore or see them at all. And when I met him, I had just moved to the area and was a recent 17-year-old graduate who was taking a year off before starting college so I didn’t know anyone but my family, wasn’t in any position to meet anyone, and had no other connections. But he never wanted me to find other connections or continue the ones I had. That was when I first started to think ‘Yick, what is with this guy?’ but I made excuses for him. As young fools in abusive relationships often do.”


11. When they keep accusing you of cheating and you aren’t.

“I didn’t see the red flags until 15 years later. So, going back in time, the first BIG red flag was after he grilled me about some phantom affair he thought I was having, it turned out he was cheating on me. I didn’t find out the truth until after we already married, though.”


12. When everything is your fault.

“Looking back, there were so many red flags earlier, but the one I first realized at the time was when we had gone shopping and it had started pouring down rain out of nowhere. Everything is your fault if you’re in an abusive relationship, according to your abuser.

Neither of us had an umbrella or anything because the weather had changed so rapidly, he then started screaming at me in the train station so badly one of the security guards had to intervene. I realized I was 18 years old, in the prime of my life and was stood here, crying and apologizing to a man for the weather while strangers attempted to diffuse his anger at me fearing the consequences. That same night a woman sat next to me on the busy train held my hand quietly as he screamed at me across the aisle.”


13. When somebody makes you afraid of bringing up a problem you may have with them.

“The first red flag isn’t an obvious one. But essentially, if somebody makes you afraid of bringing up a problem you may have with them or responds automatically mean as shit/defensive as fuck, GET AWAY.

Within a relationship, you have the right to bring up a conversation on something that may bother you in a calm manner and that person should respond to you accordingly. Fights will happen, yes, but you should be able to talk to each other without it being a fight at the first few mentions of something that may potentially challenge them.

In my last relationship though, I came to see everything he was doing to manipulate me came to a head when I caught him in a massive lie. When I told him ‘You lied to me, by the way’ and listed the reasons why he lied to me….he simply repeated over and over ‘I didn’t lie.’ But…he did lol.”


14. When they need your undivided attention every day in your every waking hour.

“The need for my undivided attention every day in my every waking hour. Seriously people, clingers are bad news.”


15. When they disregard your feelings and act as if they know what’s best for you.

“Let’s break the notion that you’ll be able to notice the ‘first’ flag, because abuse doesn’t work like that. There are many, many flags that are considered abusive, but anyone can have a one-off. Your SO was jealous one time? That’s not a flag.

The first thing I notice that almost always leads to abuse is a disregard for your feelings and the notion that they know what’s best for you.

For example, my ex told me in the beginning that if I ever cheated on him, he’d kill me. It may not be entirely normal but enough people say it jokingly that you might not look twice. But he kept saying it. And eventually I told him how much it bothered me, that it wasn’t funny. And he’d apologize and quit for a day or two, but he’d always continue. That was the first time I noticed how he’d disregard my feelings.

My little sister is in a new relationship. He’s doing the same thing. She is skinny and she has some health issues that the doctors are trying to figure out, but sometimes eating physically hurts her. Her boyfriend vacillates between making her eat when she’s not hungry, and yelling at her when she eats something he doesn’t approve of. For example, she wanted a Monster. He told her it was unhealthy and bitched at her to the point that she put it back. He told her she should drink flavored water instead. She said no, but he bought one for her anyway and made her drink it. It doesn’t sound bad right now, but when someone takes your autonomy and makes your choices for you, it’s not a good sign.”


About the author

Lorenzo Jensen III

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