Signs That Your Husband Is Abusive

Confronting the possibility that your husband is abusive may be frightening, but to prevent any additional harm to yourself or your family, you must face the prospect of leaving him. Each abuse case has a different background and doesn’t always follow a set list of specifications; if you think you’re in an abusive relationship, then it’s likely that you are. Abuse manifests itself emotionally, physically and sexually. Often, the abuse escalates over time and is usually rationalized by excuses and apologies from the abuser. The physical process of leaving an abuser is potentially the most challenging part of breaking the cycle of abuse forever because of the immense amount of fear associated with the abuser; women often allow this terror to thwart any action. Even though the process of leaving your husband produces a new set of complications, the trials you endure in the course of ending the abuse outweigh the consequences of remaining in an abusive marriage.

Emotional Signs

Confronting an emotionally abusive relationship can be extremely difficult because, unlike physical abuse, the signs of abuse aren’t visible. Emotional abuse usually comes in the form of verbal attacks and manipulation. Verbal abuse includes, but isn’t limited to, criticism, screaming and swearing, intimidation and threats of physical harm, name calling and blame. Any form of verbal degradation is unacceptable, even if your husband attempts to defend his words by saying that he’s only trying to help you become a better person; abusers rationalize their actions and use your emotional needs to get what they want from you while keeping you under their control. He mocks you or yells at you when you express your emotions or address an issue that’s important to you. He has financial control over you and forbids or restricts your time with family and friends. You have an intense fear of questioning him or getting in his way. It’s common for abused women to feel guilty, because their abusers have toyed with their emotions and forced them to believe that something’s wrong with them. Verbal abuse is psychologically scarring and has the capacity to influence every part of your life and any prospect of a future relationship.

Physical Signs

The signs of physical abuse are less subtle than emotional abuse, but often the victim protects her husband by lying about how she got bruises and black eyes. Physical abuse involves the use of force against you in any way that jeopardizes your physical safety or injures you. Physical abuse may include being pushed, kicked, punched or choked; being threatened or harmed by a weapon; being prevented from leaving the house or calling for help; and any destruction of your property. Any of these behaviors constitute physical abuse, regardless of the frequency or severity.

Sexual Signs

Unfortunately, women often struggle with the ability to recognize sexual abuse in marriage, because many people view acts of sexual aggression within marriage to be a desire to fulfill a fantasy rather than rape. Wives may feel ashamed to admit to unwanted sexual relations with their husbands for fear of additional sexual abuse or retaliation. In addition, marital rape is hard to prove in a court of law; as a result, many women don’t report instances of rape or sexual assault, especially when the attacker is an acquaintance. It’s considered sexual abuse if you’re forced to perform or to join in any coerced, dangerous or humiliating sexual activity. Regardless of whether you’ve engaged in consensual sex with your husband previously, being forced to have sex against your will is an act of sexual violence and is punishable by law. The National Domestic Violence Hotline cites research indicating that women whose intimate partners physically and sexually abuse them have an increased risk for being critically injured or murdered.

About this Author

Anna-Sofie Hickson is a freelance writer with six years of writing experience. She writes for “LIVESTRONG Quarterly” magazine and contributes to various military publications. She is a certified personal trainer and holds a degree in English and psychology from Franciscan University. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas.