20 Questions to Determine Whether Your Partner is Controlling

“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm,” wrote Lundy Bancroft in Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.

Emotional abuse is an insidious thing. It ruins the lives of men and women alike, and because it is not physical in nature, it often goes unrecognized. It begins shockingly early.

More than 1 in 4 teenage girls in a relationship reported enduring repeated verbal abuse. These relationships become a pattern, and soon it is the only kind of love a woman knows.

20 Questions to Determine Whether Your Partner is Controlling

Many people do not recognize abuse in their own partnership especially when it comes in the form of control.

Here are twenty questions to help you determine whether your partner is controlling in an abusive way.

1. Does your partner make you doubt your ability to achieve your professional goals? Do you lower your ambitions because he convinces you you’re not smart or competent enough to reach them?

2. Does she undermine your fitness or dietary goals by making jokes? Does she tempt you with vices you are trying to quit, like cigarettes or alcohol? Does she encourage you to do drugs?

3. Do you feel like you need to shout for your point of view to be heard? Does he often interrupt you, or refuse to acknowledge your perspective?

4. Do you feel uncomfortable after your sexual encounters?

5. Does the teasing dynamic of your relationship have an uncomfortable undertone to it? Does she sometimes use humor to undermine your values or to make you feel bad?

6. Does he make you feel like you are not as attractive, smart, or charming as he is? Does he compare you to other women, including friends and ex-girlfriends?

7. Does she belittle things that are very important to you- such as your religion or political beliefs?

8. Is arguing with him so unpleasant and pointless that you often give in to his wishes just to avoid the fight?

9. Does she treat you as though you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent? Do you find yourself apologizing for things you never did?

10. Do you feel as though you have to earn his trust or respect by living your life on his terms? Does he withhold these things as a means to control you?

11. Does she refuse to let you spend time alone? Does she make you feel guilty about it?

12. Do you find yourself going out of your way not to make him jealous? Do you make an effort to hide your physical beauty in order to avoid his accusations?

13. Does she demand to have the password to your phone? Do you find her checking it when you are not in the room?

14. Does he give you extravagant gifts? Does he remind you often of the nice things he has bought for you?

15. Does she often make you feel guilty? Does she use those feelings to get her own way?

16. Does he keep a mental scorecard of your interactions? Is he eager to do nice things for you in order to gain the upper hand?

17. Is her love, affection, and attraction conditional? Does she feel the same way about you when she doesn’t get her way as when she does?

18. Has he threatened to hurt you? Has he threatened to hurt himself if you leave him?

19. Does she criticize your wardrobe, career, speech patterns, or home? Is nothing good enough to gain her approval?

20. Does he discourage you from spending time with your friends and family? Does he want you all to himself?

“It’s difficult to admit to ourselves that we suffer. We feel humiliated, like we should have been able to control our pain. If someone else is suffering, we like to tuck them away, out of sight. It’s a cruel, cruel conditioning. There is no controlling the unfolding of life,” said Sharon Salzberg. The first step is to admit you are suffering. The next is to seek help. Here are three wonderful resources to turn to if you are in crisis. You’re worth it.
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