Twenty Phrases That May Indicate You Have An Abusive Partner

By: Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Do you suspect you may be in an abusive relationship, but aren't quite sure? Are you looking for clues to confirm or disprove your hypothesis one way or the other? The answer you are looking for may be contained in the words, language patterns, and communication style used by your partner. Pay attention to the style and tone that your partner uses. While use of any one phrase does not mean your partner has the potential to be abusive, a pattern of regular use of several of these sentences is a danger signal and cause for alarm.

  1. "Because I said so."

  2. "It's your fault."

  3. "I don't want you talking to/seeing her."

  4. "I'll tell you what to do."

  5. "You're not going out of the house looking like that."

  6. "You don't need to know."

  7. "I handle the money."

  8. "You know what your problem is?"

  9. "This is for your own good."

  10. "Shut up!"

  11. Name calling

  12. "You don't know what you're talking about."

  13. "We're NOT doing it that way."

  14. "If you don't like it, tough!"

  15. "Get over it!"

  16. "You'll be sorry."

  17. "You'll never find anyone who will treat you as good as I do."

  18. "We never [have sex/go on vacation/have any extra money/have any friends/have fun] because of you."

  19. "I DARE you to [leave/find another man/lip off to me one more time/raise your voice to me]."

  20. " . . . or else." "Don't you tell anyone, or else." "Get this house clean, or else." "Have my dinner ready when I get home, or else."

While use of language is not the only clue that you could be in a potentially abusive relationship, it is an important one. Tune into the words that come from your partner's mouth. Listen to the data he or she communicates. There is a fine line between verbal and physical abuse. Your partner is telling you something while he is telling you something. Are you listening? Are you hearing?

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to A Great Relationship. (Personal Power Press 877-360-1477) They publish a FREE e-mail newsletter for couples. Subscribe to it at Simply ask to be added to the coupletalk newsletter. You may also subscribe to the Response-Able Parenting newsletter at

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