4 Min Read
- Recognizing An Abusive Husband
- What Happens If You Ignore The Signs Of Abuse
- What To Take Away
- Comments (75 +)
Have you ever felt like there’s something off in your marriage?
Perhaps you don’t feel as loved as you think you should be. Or maybe you feel there’s an imbalance in your relationship. Or are you self-conscious or worried about the way your husband treats you in public? If one of these rings true, it's possible you have an abusive husband.
Being married to an abusive husband can be painful to say the least, and sometimes dangerous. It can also be difficult to recognize.
Many women who find themselves married to abusive men don’t even realize what they’re experiencing is abuse. Typically, the relationship doesn’t start out abusive, but rather changes into one over time.
So, how can you recognize the signs of an abusive husband and stop the abuse?
Recognizing An Abusive Husband
Abuse comes in many forms. Physical abuse is generally the most obvious, but emotional and mental abuses are much more common. And, as already mentioned, most relationships don’t start off with such overt abuse, but instead the behavior develops as the relationship matures.
Seeing the warning signs can be particularly difficult for the women involved. It’s a forest and trees situation – you can’t see the forest (abusive relationship) because you’re surrounded by trees (abusive behavior).
And most women don’t want to believe that,
- The person who’s supposed to love them has become abusive.
- They’ve become the victim of abuse.
Neither of those things are easy characterizations to face and admit. This reluctance can mean abusive behavior by a husband gets ignored for far longer than it should.
There are, however, some tell-tale signs that should never be overlooked.
If you’re concerned that your relationship may be abusive, take a look at the warning signs of an abusive husband described in the below excerpt from Dr. Phil's article, Are You In an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?:
Does your partner continuously degrade or belittle you? If you think that just because you aren't being physically abused nothing is wrong, think again.
Emotionally abusive relationships can have devastating consequences on both physical and mental health. While emotional or psychological abuse may be difficult to pinpoint, examples abound. Here are some characteristics:
- Using economic power to control you
- Threatening to leave
- Making you afraid by using looks, gestures or actions
- Smashing things
- Controlling you through minimizing, denying and blaming
- Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously
- Continually criticizing you, calling you names, shouting at you
- Emotionally degrading you in private, but acting charming in public
- Humiliating you in private or public
- Withholding approval, appreciation or affection as punishment
These behaviors are often masked and described as love, concern, or “for your own good.”
An abusive husband will also go to great lengths to make his wife feel like she’s the cause of his behavior.
- "If you just did what I needed you to"
- "If you hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have had to”
are common phrases an abusive husband will use.
Abuse should never be justified. While we all can make mistakes and disappoint each other, being verbally or emotionally abusive is never an acceptable response.
What Happens If You Ignore The Signs Of Abuse
Abuse of any kind will cause long lasting damage.
Left unchecked abuse can leave emotional scars and other problems that make relationships, personal life, trusting others, and life in general extremely difficult. Repairing the damage an abusive husband causes is difficult and takes time.
Below is additional information from Dr. Phil’s article regarding the repercussions of being in an abusive relationship. These are changes that can take place in the wife of an abusive husband.
Results of Verbal and Emotional Abuse, from the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness:
- A distrust of her spontaneity
- A loss of enthusiasm
- An uncertainty about how she is coming across
- A concern that something is wrong with her
- An inclination to reviewing incidents with the hopes of determining what went wrong
- A loss of self-confidence
- A growing self-doubt
- An internalized critical voice
- A concern that she isn't happier and ought to be
- An anxiety or fear of being crazy
- A sense that time is passing and she's missing something
- A desire not to be the way she is, e.g. "too sensitive," etc.
- A hesitancy to accept her perceptions
- A reluctance to come to conclusion
- A tendency to live in the future, e.g. "Everything will be great when/after ..."
- A desire to escape or run away
- A distrust of future relationships
Sadly, these changes can be long-lasting.
Husbands who are abusers can affect their wives’ self-esteem and self-perception in a way that can change the way they live their lives and interact with others. These effects often take a long time and counseling to overcome.
Can you see yourself or your husband in any of these descriptions?
If you can, it’s very possible you have an abusive husband.
What To Take Away
No woman wants to believe her husband is abusive. In fact, many women go to great lengths to defend their husband’s behavior and explain it away. But if any of the above hits home, you have a problem, and the only question is what’s the cause.
If you’re wondering if what you’re seeing are warning signs you have an abusive husband, keep the following in mind:
- Abuse comes in many forms.
Emotional and mental abuse can be hard to see, especially if you’re the one experiencing it, because they are the most common forms.
- The longer abuse goes on the harder it is to recover.
- There’s no justification for abusive behavior.
Healthy relationships include mutual respect, support, and positive communication, not demeaning words and controlling behavior.
If you think you might have an abusive husband, get some professional marriage counseling help. Being confused is a natural outcome of abuse, and abusive men take advantage of it, so you need an expert to help understand you what's really going on and what you can do about it.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 10, 2010, updated on June 26, 2019 and has been updated again for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
- Spotting Real Life Emotional Abuse
- Unhealthy Warning Signs In Your Relationships
- How To Recognize Verbal Abuse
- Get More Help with an Abusive Relationship