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Signs You're in an Abusive Relationship

9 Red Flags That May Mean Your Relationship Is Doing More Harm Than Good

Not all signs of a bad relationship are as obvious as many people would think. Dr. Fran Walfish — Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and costar on We TV's Sex Box — offers expert insight on red flags to watch out for that may indicate that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.

  1. Excessive charm and ingratiating behavior. This is the abuser's way of seducing you to trust them before they act out their abuse toward you.
  2. The silent treatment. The silent treatment functions to keep the receiver in suspense of what will happen, and unsure of what they did wrong, and how bad it is. It is a way of controlling the other person as a precursor to abuse.
  3. Expecting mind reading. This means the person acts unhappy until others guess what they want. This controlling behavior locks the other person out and raises their anxiety, making them feel like a failure for not guessing correctly.
  4. Poison delegation. This is where the controlling abuser asks the victim to do something for them, saying they can't do it for themselves. But, whatever the victim does is met with harsh criticism instead of praising any good faith effort.
  5. Constantly correcting. Disputing or correcting someone on points irrelevant to the main point being discussed. The constant correcting keeps the abuser on top and his subject in a one-down position.
  6. Lying. You can never be sure if they are forthcoming with the whole truth.
  7. Projective identification. Essentially this means you get blamed for no fault. This is a psychological term that means the abuser relates to you as if you did something wrong. When you get upset and deny it, they confirm your behavior as justification for the accusation. It is an extremely manipulative behavior on the part of the abuser by stimulating fear, anxiety, guilt, or shame into the vulnerable victim.
  8. Sexual manipulation. Your abusive partner emotionally manipulates you into sexual activities you don't like. They may even emotionally arm-twist you by saying things like, "Other girls/guys do it! Why can't you?"
  9. Denial. Even when you point out their emotionally abusive ways, your partner doesn't accept their behavior as a flaw. Instead, they convince themselves and try to convince you that they're doing all this only to help you become a better person.
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