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What is Considered an Abusive Marriage?

Understanding what is considered an abusive marriage can help victims to feel validated about their feelings and experiences. Abuse does not have to mean physical violence or sexual violence. Things like emotional abuse and emotional manipulation are much more common than physical abuse; they are much harder to understand and recognize, and usually harder to break free from.


Abuse can hide itself in many ways. Your spouse’s behavior may seem like a sign of love and passion on the surface, but when you dig deeper, there are toxic elements and behaviors that need to be dealt with before it causes you to suffer emotional trauma. An abusive partner may have acted extremely loving and caring at the beginning, but as the initial feelings begin to fade, they may have become cruel and manipulative. These are common tactics used by narcissists.


According to a number of studies, young adults, especially young female adults, are the most likely to suffer at the hands of an abusive person. Often, they have never been in healthy relationships and when they enter their first long-term relationship, they may not be able to see through the manipulation. Around 1 in 3 women, according to the World Health Organization, have been in at least one abusive relationship.

What Is Abusive Behavior?

Domestic abuse, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, dating abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse are all examples of abusive behavior. Usually, the abusive person attempts or carries out physical, sexual, or emotional harm to the abused person.


This covers a huge variety of different behaviors. Sexual abuse, for example, does not have to refer to just physical or sexual violence. Involving others in sexual activities or ignoring a partner’s feelings and needs during sex can also be seen as sexual abuse in the eyes of the law.

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Abuse is unacceptable, and if you have finally made the decision to leave an abusive marriage, you will need a strong support network.


First and foremost, the national domestic violence hotline should be the first port of call if you need immediate help or advice. Their number is 817-369-3970.


If you want to begin the process of divorcing your spouse and you want protection orders in place and an attorney on hand to protect you, call us at 817-369-3970 Our phone lines are always open.


Firstly, we will ensure your safety. Secondly, we will begin the divorce process and we will make sure that the courts and family law Judges that are involved in your divorce are aware of the abuse that has been happening. The Judge will have full control and flexibility to place a protection order on your abusive spouse. This may mean they are forbidden from seeing or speaking to you and your kids while the divorce is finalized.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse, or psychological abuse, is much harder to spot. With emotional abuse, the abuser uses emotional manipulation, words and actions to control and tighten their partner.

This may happen through:


Humiliation can happen through insults or aggressive name calling. This often happens in public, in front of the person’s family and friends. They may also post unflattering pictures or videos of the person online, or to their friends. The occasional joke may not amount to humiliation, but an ongoing patterns of humiliating behavior is terribly destructive to your self esteem.  


Demanding control of the person’s phone and who they speak to. Controlling who the person spends time with and pressuring a person to engage in behaviors such as drinking or drugs are all forms of control.

Blaming and gaslighting

They may blame you for everything that goes wrong in their lives, whether you were involved or not.

Gaslighting is a tactic used to make a person question their own memories and beliefs. Over time this can be seriously damaging. If you bring up the fact they did something wrong and they tell you you are remembering it wrong, and they constantly do this, it is gaslighting.

Neglect and isolation

The silent treatment, ignoring a partner and their needs, withholding affection or sex as a manipulation tactic, and preventing a person from seeing friends and family when they are upset are all forms of neglect and isolation abuse.

How to Know If You Are in an Abusive Relationship vs. a Codependent Relationship

The difference between an abusive relationship and a co-dependent relationship can be difficult to distinguish at times, but there are certain signs to look out for. In an abusive relationship, one partner will have a power imbalance and use manipulation, intimidation, threats, and physical or emotional violence to control the other.


Abusive relationships are often characterized by extreme jealousy, possessiveness, and a lack of respect for the other partner’s personal boundaries.


In a codependent relationship, both partners may become overly reliant on each other for emotional and physical support. They may be overly dependent on their partner for validation and approval, and may have difficulty making decisions without consulting their partner. They may also be overly preoccupied with their partner’s thoughts and feelings, while neglecting their own needs.

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to get help and get out of the relationship as soon as possible.


If you are in a codependent relationship, it is important to address the issue and work on becoming more independent and self-reliant.

Telltale Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Unfortunately, when it comes to emotional abuse, the abused person may become accustomed to the abuse over time, and when this happens, they may even begin to feel like their partner’s behavior is justified and normal. They may also begin to believe all of the negative things that their partner may say about them.


Here are some of the common signs you may be in an abusive relationship.

You have to defend their actions to your family and friends.

If you find yourself sticking up for your partner and defending their actions to your family and friends, this is a bad sign. Often abused people end up losing their friends and falling out with their families because they are in denial. Often, they get angry when confronted by a friend or family member that is looking out for them.

You no longer go to your friends or family for support.

You may have stopped going to the friends and family that have supported you in the past because you don’t want them to know about your partner’s behavior. You might not want them to think badly about them and defend their actions in your head. 


Alternatively, your friends and family may have told you in no uncertain terms that they do not wish to hear about your issues with your partner any more.  If your friends and family have told you they are tired of hearing you complain to them when you don’t take action to change your situation, that’s a sign for you.  

You always apologize to your partner, even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

If you find yourself apologizing for things you haven’t done, simply to get out of arguments with your spouse, this is a sign of abuse.

You are isolated, and feel like you cannot make your own choices.

If your partner stops you from spending time with people, controls your phone and your finances, this control is emotional abuse. This can include moving to another town or state to move you away from your family and friends.  You are more dependent on the abuser if you have no one else in your area to lean on for help.  

You always walk on eggshells around your partner.

If you feel you can’t be yourself or speak your mind because your partner may explode and cause a serious argument, this is a red flag.

You and your partner argue constantly.

Even in healthy relationships there are often arguments, but when you are constantly in a state of conflict with your partner, this is not healthy.

Your partner engages in gift buying or love bombing.

If your partner buys you lots of gifts or showers you in affection when they have upset you or you have confronted them about their behavior, this is a tactic used to win you back. Afterwards they will likely go back to the same behavior as before.

You’ve forgotten what life was like before the relationship.

If you can no longer remember what life was like before you entered into the relationship, you may be suffering the mental consequences of being in an abusive marriage or relationship.

The Mental Health Consequences of Being in an Abusive Relationship

The mental health consequences of being in an abusive relationship can be devastating and long-lasting. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse.

Victims of abuse often suffer from:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD
  • Low self-esteem
  • feelings of guilt and shame

Victims may also struggle with self-blame and may become isolated from friends and family and may also experience fear and difficulty in trusting people and forming meaningful relationships in the future.


This can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In addition, victims may have trouble sleeping and concentrating, and may have difficulty making decisions or thinking clearly.


Victims of abuse may also experience physical health consequences due to the stress of being in an abusive relationship. These can include headaches, stomach problems, and other physical ailments.

It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Talk to a mental health professional or contact a crisis line for immediate help and support. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available.

Tips For Divorcing an Abusive Spouse

Here at Youngblood Law, PLLC, we understand that leaving an abusive spouse is extremely difficult. This is why the best thing you can do is seek legal representation from an experienced divorce attorney with experience handling cases involving abuse. This ensures you are safe during your divorce and your rights are protected.


There are a number of things you should do to protect your wellbeing while you go through the process and often, it is a good idea to work with a counselor as well as your divorce attorney.

As your divorce attorney, we will sit down and listen to your story. We want to understand your goals so we can help you achieve the best possible future after your divorce.


When leaving an abusive spouse, here are some tips:


  • Maintain Boundaries – Remember, your spouse does not have the power to make you stay involved in an argument. You can walk away from them, turn off your phone and in drastic situations, call your attorney. Once you begin to regain your control, you will realize that they are using manipulation tactics and you can control how you react to them.
  • Prioritize Self-Care – The stress of divorcing an abusive partner can be physical and emotional. You should take the time to focus on some self care at this time. Go on a small holiday, get a massage, speak to your coach and therapists and reconnect with family and friends. Even if you have fallen out over your spouse, we promise you that they will understand and will be there to support you.
  • Recognize Your Spouse’s Behaviors – Be aware that when your spouse realizes their abuse and manipulation are not working, they will change tactics and try to win you back with grand gestures or signs of love. By now, you will recognize these for what they are and you will be able to remove yourself from the situation.

Contact Youngblood Law, PLLC Today and Speak to a Divorce Attorney That Truly Cares

Having the proper support and guidance from the very beginning will ensure that you are protected from your spouse. If you are concerned about their reaction and behavior, and are worried they may become a danger to you, we can ensure you have the protection you need.


At Youngblood Law, PLLC, we understand the difficulties of leaving an abusive and unhappy marriage. With our experience and expertise, we are committed to advocating for your needs and helping you to build a brighter future.

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