Signs that You’re in an Abusive Relationship

Hey there my sisters, it’s Michelle Lisa Anderson, and welcome to The Wife of an Alcoholic Podcast. I’m so glad that you are willing to listen to this episode.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at the title or not, but we are going to be talking about abuse. And this is a very hot topic right now in our society, particularly in the United States.

The Harvey Weinstein case just came about several months ago, and one of the women in our community and I were talking about it.

She said, “You know, Michelle, I just feel like this is such an opportunity for us to address such a common problem.” So I want to say that you are having a great act of courage today by listening to this.

So thank you. I have a done a lot of research to prepare for this episode because I take this topic very seriously.

Did you know—I found this out doing my research—that abuse thrives in isolation and that 50% of men in recovery admit that they have been physically abusive to their partner or spouse? And my guess (and this is just a guess) is that close to 100% of men in recovery have been verbally abusive.

Now, if you’ve been a listener of this podcast for a while, you’ll have noticed that when we first started out, we started talking from the point of view of a woman loving a man.

And then several months ago, I started receiving emails from women who were in same-sex relationships saying, “Hey, Michelle,” (at the time it was 2017)  “it’s 2017. What about women loving women?” And I thought, “Oh, yeah, you’re right. I definitely do not want to be exclusive and make women, any type of women no matter what their sexual preferences, feel left out.

So I started to change the language on our website and on our podcasts to women who love somebody suffering from addiction. I think that’s a really healthy, good choice for our community because everybody is welcome. That is one of our core values.

There’s no judgment in this community whatsoever.

We don’t care what faith you are, or if you have no faith at all. And we don’t care what color you are, what religion you are, or who you are attracted to.

We love you, and the only requirement to be part of our sisterhood is to love somebody who is suffering from addiction.

And you need to agree that we’re not going to judge one another—that we are going to change the world of addiction through love.

But today, in this podcast, I am going to use the word man because that’s what the research is showing. And I don’t ever want to make you think that the information I’m giving you is made up.

I do hours and hours of research before every podcast, and everything that I have uncovered about physical or verbal abuse is based on men. So that is what we are going to be using today for the sake of accuracy which I think is important.

So let’s get started. What is abuse? And you might have started off listening to this podcast thinking, “Well, Michelle, I’m not really in an abusive relationship.” And hopefully that’s true, but will you promise me to listen to this episode and let me teach you what abuse looks and sounds like?

And if it doesn’t apply to you, then great, you’ll have confirmation and peace of mind.

You’ll also have the tools to help another sister in our community who is going through this or maybe someone in your community. But you might be surprised. Addiction might be pulling a fast one on you. And there might be more abuse in your relationship than you’re aware of.

So please, please give me just a few minutes of your day. I can’t promise this is going to be a short episode because there’s a lot of good stuff in here, but I can tell you it will be rich with information and helpful and applicable.

So remember, you are in a safe place with me. There’s no judgment. We are a sisterhood, and we’re all experiencing very similar things. We don’t judge ourselves, and we don’t judge each other.

But this might be the most important episode you’ll ever listen to.

So please keep an open heart and mind because we are in this together.

In the next few minutes, you are going to hear me ask you some very important questions. You will have two choices, and I want you to decide this right now before you move on.

Choice number one: you can passively listen. And that means you listen to me, and you listen to my words and my voice, but you’re not taking a moment to take personal inventory and answer the questions I’m asking you. You’re listening, but you’re not really doing the work.

Here’s your second choice. And of course, I’m about to tell you that this is the choice I would prefer you to take.

You can actively listen.

You can stop the podcast for a moment or two in between my questions. And I’m warning you right now, you’re going to be stopping and playing a lot, but that’s okay because I want you to ask yourself every time that I ask you a question: is this true for me? Is there some truth to this question? Can you answer yes to any of this?

So, you have those two choices: passive or active.

Now, I love you, and I know some of you are exhausted and empty, and you’re like, “Michelle, give me a break. I don’t need one more thing to do in my life right now,” and honey, I hear you. So if that’s you today, and you feel especially worn down, I’m going to give you a pass.

Listen to this podcast, but promise me that tomorrow, not 48 hours, not 72 hours, tomorrow you take 10, 15, 20 minutes to re-listen to this podcast and pause it when I ask you these questions. So you get your pass for today, but tomorrow you’re going to do this if you absolutely have to.

You know one of our core beliefs in the Love Over Addiction community is that we do the work.

That is one of the things we believe in. We’re not powerless over this disease. We don’t just need to sit back and wait for them to get sober. We are willing and committed to doing the work.

Recovery doesn’t just come without amazing effort and the desire to be truthful with ourselves.

Think of your loved one for a moment, and think about the effort that you know it will take for them to choose long-term sobriety. It is a huge commitment that takes a lot of energy, tons of love, lots of thought and research, and work.

Okay, well that same amount of energy is what you need to recover yourself. Does that make sense to you?

The amount of effort that your loved one needs to put into their sobriety is the exact amount of effort you need to put into your recovery.

So I hope and pray that you will stop in between these questions and really answer them. Nobody is around for you to judge. This is just between you and me. Are you ready?

Here are the signs and symptoms that you’ve been in an abusive relationship:

Does he make you afraid by using looks or actions or gestures?

Does he smash things, destroy property, abuse pets, or display weapons?

Is he putting you down, making you feel bad about being yourself, or calling you names?

Is he making you think you’re crazy?

Does he play mind games or humiliate you and make you feel guilty?

Does he control what you do, who you see and talk to, or what you read and where you go?  

Is he limiting your outside involvement?

Does he use his jealousy to justify his actions?

Is he making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously?

Is he saying the abuse didn’t happen, shifting responsibility for abusive behavior, or saying you caused it?

Does he make you feel guilty about the children, use them to relay messages, or use visitation to harass you?

Does he threaten to take the children away?

Is he treating you like a servant making all the big decisions, acting like the master of the castle, and being the one to define a man and a woman’s role?

Is he preventing you from getting or keeping a job?

Does he make you ask for money?

Is he is he giving you an allowance or taking your money?

Is he not letting you know about or have access to the family income?

Does he make or carry out threats to do something to hurt you?

Is he threatening to leave you or commit suicide?

Is he making you drop charges against him or making you do illegal things?


These are all ways addiction exerts power and control over us, and this is physical, mental, sexual, and verbal abuse. If this sounds like your situation— if you answered yes to any of these, you are not alone. I promise you.

There are so many of us in this  Love Over Addiction community who have experienced this.

We get it. We understand.

And I know for me, when I was in this type of relationship, I felt like I was the one to blame.

I let the addiction make me feel like I was the problem and that somehow, some way, I asked for it.

Now, I’ve told you before if you’ve listened to previous episodes—I am a feisty woman. I am scrappy, and I have a voice that I am not afraid to use.

I think that’s actually one of the blessings that I have, because, without that voice, I don’t think there would be this podcast. But I don’t get physical. There were even times in my relationship with my addict where I got a little crazy and out of control, but I didn’t get physical.

I don’t have an issue with speaking up for myself. And sometimes, when you have a bad habit of nagging or yelling or acting out of control, it can feel like you asked for it, right? It feels like you asked for this kind of abuse. It can feel like you helped take things to the next level.

And maybe if you were that quiet girl, he wouldn’t have gotten so mean and cruel.

That’s how I used to feel. He wouldn’t have had to do what he did if I was the timid and shy and well-behaved girl. The woman and the wife who was quiet and small.

But can I be your friend and tell you the loving truth? That is BS. I wish I swore on this podcast, but I don’t, so I’m going to say BS.

That’s the kind of lie that this disease wants you to believe because guess what: we have women in this community who are quiet. They’re the ones who internalize all of their feelings and anger, and they still get abused. Nobody, under any circumstance, should ever, ever abuse you, even if you’ve gone off your rocker and made a big mistake.

There is never any justification for abuse, and it’s grounds to leave forever and never return.

If you’re a woman of faith, I’m going to make a very bold statement here that I am completely prepared to back up. God does not want you in an abusive relationship. You are his child whom he adores.

Would you want your child in an abusive relationship?  What would you do if your young child called you and said somebody was abusing them in the playground, or if they were a grown adult, their boyfriend abused them or their husband abused them?

Would you say to that child, “Oh, just stick it out. Oh, toughen up. Grow up. This is partly your responsibility. What did you do in the matter? What did you do to cause this? Or what did you do to instigate this?”

You wouldn’t say that. No, you would help them pack their bags and give them a safe place to stay and do anything you could to protect the one you love.

That feeling is how God feels about you. But He can’t force you to leave. He’s not going to pack your bag for you. That’s your work. If you’re staying out of guilt over what your church or religion is telling you, I am boldly saying and declaring you are focusing on the wrong opinion.

Your Father wants his babies to be safe and loved and cherished.

Too many of us have been putting up with abuse for too long.

Addiction and abuse go hand in hand. And if the ones we love are abusing us, it’s time we stick up for ourselves.

Now, that’s not always the case, right? There are some of you who are listening and saying, “I love a good man, and thank God he does not do any of the things you mentioned.” And if that is you, that is amazing.

Congratulations, and you are safe. But now that we have covered what abuse looks like, we are going to talk about why we put up with the abuse. And there are basically four reasons why we don’t speak up about abuse.

1. We love them. And the idea of being alone and leaving is frightening. So we stick it out, and we hope that it will get better. We try our best not to upset them. We live in fear that he will lash out again, but leaving would make them really, really mad. And we don’t want to leave; we just want them to stop being abusive. And trying to escape seems impossible.

So we hang on to hope that if we become a better woman, or if we try harder, he will change.

2. We feel like were partly to blame—like somehow we antagonized them, or we allowed it and didn’t speak up or stand up for ourselves. So we asked for it if we were in an argument and they hit or pushed or attacked us or put us down or yelled at us.

We might blame ourselves for being too loud or assertive. And we tell ourselves if we were just quiet and agreeable, this would never have happened.

We are intimidated and bullied into thinking that somehow this is our fault.

So we are left with feelings of shame.

3. We are not sure if this really is abuse because they can be so kind afterward. That’s the thing with abuse, guys. I remember being in my therapist’s office, and she drew this cycle out for me on a whiteboard. Abusers are not tyrants 24 hours a day.

They know that in order to lure you back in, they need to be charming and apologetic, and then they need to usually bribe you emotionally or financially or physically. And then they abuse you again.

It’s this cycle that never ends until you get out and away.

4. We’re smart women, so we can’t we feel like we can’t really be in an abusive relationship. Usually, we find ourselves in an abusive relationship, and we think, “Well, there’s no way that this is truly abusive. This isn’t the obvious abuse that is portrayed on the Lifetime TV movie.

But for the most part, you think he’s a nice guy, and you’re a smart woman.

Abuse doesn’t happen to people like you.

Look at the example in of the women in Hollywood. Those women were successful, beautiful, gifted women. Abusive relationships happen to people of all different backgrounds. It’s not subjective.

So now that we have covered what abuse sounds and looks like, and we spoke of why we put up with abusive relationships, what can we do about it? I am going to give you a resource that I want you to write down.

All my data and research on the topic of abuse was done through this amazing organization. They are specialists in this. It’s called the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and you can find them at They are an independent resource that offers a free hotline with trained and skilled staff who specialize in this topic.

I have personally spoken to them professionally many times, and they are truly wonderful. And they will help you come up with a safe plan. They have safety plans for you and your children, for you and your pets, for you during your pregnancy, and any other situation you can think of.

Now, you don’t have to implement the plan right away. I’m not telling you if you’re feeling panicked, and your heart’s fluttering, and you’re thinking that you need to go home and pack your bags immediately; you don’t. You don’t have to implement this plan right away.

Part of leaving is coming up with a strategy. You have to come up with a strategy in order to execute this correctly.

You have to have a plan.

But even if you say, “Okay, Michelle, I can answer yes to some of those questions, but I’m still not sure.” That’s fine. Again, no judgment. No judgment at all. Just have this plan in your back pocket.

You can also get the plans on their website, so if you don’t feel like calling the hotline specifically, all that information is on the website.

I am not trying to scare you, but rather lovingly teach you that abuse is not normal in a relationship. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, my sister. This is not your fault. Even though the one you love can be very charming, that does not mean that they are not abusive.

There are wonderful examples in your life of healthy relationships. That is what you deserve. That is what your children deserve to have modeled for them. It is time for you to consider that you have the courage inside of you to stand up to abusive relationships once and for all.

I am right here with you. I believe in you 110%.  

And if you are one of those people right now who has been listening to the podcast, but you haven’t joined our community, I am telling you that it takes a village, and we are your village.

We are real women all over the world who are waiting to encourage you, to lift you up, to give you advice, and to tell you what worked for us.

Think about it. We are all a collective voice that is waiting to help heal you and nurture you and nurse you back to health.

You do not need to be doing this by yourself. If you are that woman, please consider one of our programs. I’m telling you that they work, and they can be life-changing when you make your healing a priority. You can check us out at LoveOverAddiction,com. I love each one of you, and I will talk to you next week.

Like this podcast? Subscribe now!

Please subscribe so you never miss an episode.