Home > Relationship Problems > Abuse > 5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend

5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend

Some boyfriends are clearly abusive – they hit, yell, or push their girlfriends around. These signs of an abusive boyfriend will help you recognize the less obvious types of abuse.

signs of an abusive boyfriendIf your boyfriend doesn’t feel any guilt no matter what he does or says, he might be a sociopath. In The Sociopath Next Door, Martha Stout says one in twenty-five everyday Americans is secretly a sociopath. It’s a mental disorder, and the chief symptom is that the person possesses no conscience. He has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. This is a good book to read if you have a funny feeling about your boyfriend. He may not be outright abusive (eg, bruising you, breaking bones, locking you in a room) – but you’ve picked up on something. How do I know? Because you’re searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend.

These signs of abusive boyfriends are inspired by the Parable the Pencil. When you read it, remember that you are the pencil. You are gifted, smart, and valuable. You were created for a specific purpose – and when you find that purpose, you will be happier than you ever thought possible.

You may be searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend today, but tomorrow you could already be at the start of a fresh new page in your life. You’re the pencil. Write your life story.

If you know you’re with an abusive boyfriend but you feel stuck or afraid, read How to End a Relationship When You’re Scared to Be Alone.

The Parable of the Pencil

Once upon a time, there was a woodworker who often made pencils. He always told his pencils the same thing before putting the final touches on them…

“There are five things you need to know before I send you off into the world,” said woodworker. “Always remember them, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”

  • One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone’s hand.
  • Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
  • Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.
  • Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
  • Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.

The pencils understood the cobbler’s instructions, and nestled themselves in their pencil boxes. They had a strong sense of feeling of purpose, value, and meaning.

Parables and Abusive Boyfriends

Before you think about whether or not your boyfriend is emotionally abusive, put yourself in the place of the cobbler’s pencil. The point of the Parable of the Pencil is to show you how valuable you are – and how much you deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and love.

Parable of the Pencil

  • One: You will be able to do many great things with the gifts you have, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand.
  • Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time – for nobody is protected from life’s problems and sorrows – but your heartaches can make you stronger and wiser.
  • Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you make.
  • Four: The most important part of you is what’s on the inside – not what iphone you have, job you hold, clothes you wear, or shape of your body.
  • Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. Continue to express yourself in the way only you can no matter what you’re facing.

If you’re searching for signs of an abusive boyfriend, you’re probably in an unhealthy relationship. You know when you aren’t being treated right – but you may not know that you deserve to be treated better.

5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend

You can change your life. You’re like a pencil – you might not be able to erase what you’ve experienced, but you can start over with a fresh page.

You don’t feel good about yourself after being with him

If you feel deflated, sad, incompetent, depressed, or tired after being with your boyfriend, then he may be sucking the energy right out of you. Maybe he’s not “abusive” – maybe he’s an energy vampire. Maybe he isn’t life giving or inspiring. If you walk away from him with emotional or physical bruises, then he’s an abusive boyfriend.

Your boyfriend criticizes and complains all the time

There are different types of abuse. Emotional, physical, sexual, and financial are three types of abuse. Neglect is another sign of abuse – even though a neglectful boyfriend doesn’t seem like he’s actually abusing you. Neglect is a type of abuse the children experience if their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social needs aren’t met. Your boyfriend doesn’t have this type of control over your life, does he? If so, it’s a sign of an abusive boyfriend who is also a control freak.

Your boyfriend is an “energy vampire”

Energy vampires drain positive energy in many ways, such as:

  • Intruding on your life, ignoring boundaries and privacy.
  • Complaining constantly about their partners, jobs, children, bad luck, and illnesses.
  • Criticizing your hair, appearance, job, children, partner, friends, and pets.
  • Not taking “no” for an answer. A sign of an abusive boyfriend is not considering your needs.
  • Being unrelentingly negative – and encouraging you to be negative, too.
  • Blaming everyone else for their problems.

Some people believe men who are energy vampires are abusive boyfriends or husbands. I tend to agree. I know it’s not abuse that will send you to the hospital with broken ribs or a black eye, but is a type of emotional abuse.

You can’t depend on your boyfriend

Signs of an Abusive BoyfriendOn 5 Signs of a Verbally Abusive Relationship a reader says, “I’ve been with my boyfriend for 10 years. At first I helped him get cleaned from heroin, then he became an alcoholic that was getting out of hand. Then heroin again. I have five children, and only the youngest is both of ours. Financially I don’t depend on him. Deep inside of me I want to break away and feel free, what holds me back it is that he uses words that get to me even though I fight them by ignoring them. He feeds off my self-esteem. He said I make I make him sick, he doesn’t love me anymore, and we haven’t had any intimately relations in over three months. I should call the police but he doesn’t have papers. I have stood up to him by telling him stop abusing me, please stop torturing me verbally. Then when he leaves he stalks me and I’m terrified of even putting a step out the door. Please advise me.”

This reader’s example of an abusive boyfriend is far beyond an energy vampire – though he is feeding off her self-esteem and love. He is using her.

Your boyfriend uses you

It’s a sign of abuse when your boyfriend constantly borrows money, asks you to drive him around, makes you take care of his kids or house or drugs, or uses you in other ways. You know when you’re being used. Even if you can’t see it, I bet your friends and family have told you that you’re with an abusive boyfriend. The signs aren’t just in your relationship with him; they’re in the words your loved ones say.

I welcome your thoughts on these signs of an abusive boyfriend. I can’t give advice or offer counseling, but it may help you to share your experience.

My prayer is that you recognize the signs of abuse in your relationship, and find the courage and strength you need to leave. May you see yourself in The Parable of the Pencil: useful, meaningful, creative, strong, and able to continue to live fully even after the pain and setbacks you’ve experienced. May you connect with the right people, and may you learn how to love yourself the way God loves you. Amen

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 thoughts on “5 Signs of an Abusive Boyfriend”

  1. I’ll start off by saying hello, 8 years here with a three month break while he left to diddle a woman 10 years his junior…then cried to come back BC she told him it was his son or her (BC she wanted rid of me)…now I find myself often wishing he’d have chosen her. He is in every aspect,except physically, abusive. All of my own personal income goes to keeping a roof over my children’s heads, food in their bellies, and basic necessary utilities…his gets used for his drug habit and every new clothing item he has that I wind up washing so he can’t blame it on one of the kids he doesn’t have that specific shirt he wants this day or that…finally managed to convince him to switch off of his major phone network plan to prepaid (he racked up his data usage tried to blame me and the kids until he realized I wasn’t as dumb as he plays that I am and showed him his usage in black and white….36GB of the 40 allowable before overage charges begin…mine was at 1053 MB)….so that’s a step toward getting him out. Obviously I depend on him for nothing…and my phone was something he would lord over me, “if I leave I want the $300 to cancel ur number right now” and obviously I don’t have it BC again…I pay for everything else. I feel sad for what he use to be to me. I feel remorse about things like maybe I’m wrong maybe I should have tried harder, but I know better. Nothing I could do could ever make him change. He swore he’d get medication, he’d talk to somebody, then he acts like he never said any such thing. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I relish the time he is gone for work. And I revel in the time that I go to work…thankfully I work nights when the kids are asleep so I don’t have to worry about him being spiteful and mean to them….he’s always more wrapped up in himself…how do I get him out of MY home though…we got into this house together…I can’t afford to save and leave…if I take another job I’d be opening the children up to his crap and honestly, I’m already concerned I’m one more blowout away from a heart attack because of the stress, I don’t think I could physically handle more work than I already have… the receipts for the house payments are all in my name….I have receipts for all of the bills I pay….how do I get him to go and stay away….when he left to live with his (shall we say “mistress”) he still stalked me at my home and called and made threats. I’m at a loss. I don’t want my kids growing up with this…to turn into him.

  2. Dear Lana,

    Thank you for writing about your relationship – it sounds like you and your boyfriend have been through this many times before. It’s very typical for abusive boyfriends to cry and feel sorry after they abuse their girlfriends, because of course they don’t want to be alone!

    My advice is for you to stick with your plan, and leave your abusive boyfriend. My advice is to call a womens domestic violence helpline, and get support.

    Don’t tell your boyfriend you’re leaving. Just figure out how you’re going to get out and start over! Call the local support places for women in your area, because they can give you guidance and help.

    You love him, but he does not know how to show you healthy love. Here’s an article to help you let go…

    How to Break Up With Someone You Love

    I will keep you in my prayers, for strength and healing and comfort. May you reach out and find support and love in your friends and family. And, please do keep in touch with us at SheBlossoms!

    You might be encouraged by my free weekly newsletter. I help women look upwards to grow healthy and strong, emotionally and spiritually. You may find it helpful, and you can sign up here:

    Take care of yourself, and stay open to God’s love, healing, power, and freedom.


  3. I have been verbally, emotionally and financially abuse for 8 years. Last night I decided to leave. Today I am felling horrible. He was crying, said sorry ( always) but 2 seconds later he changed. I don’t want go back to this nightmare. I am very scare with his sweet promess and after call me horribleness names or telling me that he pays for everything and I am not, since I help with rent, pay 3 cars insurance, pay all 2 pets bills and all grocery and cleaning things in the house. It’s hard to tell somebody you like that you cannot be close him. Please can you give me some advices? Thanks

  4. Leaving an abusive boyfriend – even if all the signs are there – is never easy. It takes a lot of strength and courage, plus resources that aren’t easy to come by.

    I recently wrote an article for a reader who feels helpless and stuck:

    Pregnant and Alone? 5 Choices You Can Make Right Now

    The advice isn’t just for pregnant women who are living with abusive boyfriends. The tips apply to women in a variety of situations.

    May you find the light and life you need to not only recognize the signs of an abusive boyfriend, but lift yourself out of the relationship. May you find the people and resources you need to heal and move forward.

  5. I am in a abusive relationship.
    I used to be a very independent woman. Now, 14 years later I am very depressed. I’m on lexapro. It keeps me from staring at walls and crying all the time. I am a stay at home mom. My son is 11. At first the abuse was both physical and emotional. Now just emotional and mental. Three years after we were together, I found out I was pregnant. My whole pregnancy I was told that I was fat and ugly and the baby wasn’t his. I cried every single day. I walk on eggshells trying not to say anything that would upset him. I have no friends, very few family members and he doesn’t even like them. I alienated my friends because he didn’t like any of them. I have been called every name in the book. Even in front of our son. He literally sucks all the positive energy from me and I feel so empty and drained. I have a lot of schooling but unfortunately the only job I would be able to get around here is minimum wage. I do not have the means to support my son and I. I’m so so tired and exhausted. I have no self esteem nor confidence. He is verbally abusive to my son. I just wanted to share my story. There is much more to this story than I feel like typing. Praying for you all❤️

  6. This translates into, if a boyfriend wants anything from you, he’s abusive. for a modern woman, I suppose that does translate into abuse. For any human who has ever seen a television set, we know the appropriate answer, leave him.

  7. Find a women’s shelter. When he’s not home get your stuff and get the hell out of there. Get a restraining order and call the police if he ever comes knocking. And NEVER, EVER open the door for him, EVER!!!

  8. I’m so damaged right now. I’ve been on and off with this abuser for two years now. He got evicted from his appartment in the summer and didn’t even ask if he could move in with me he just did anyways. He doesn’t clean up or do anything sweet for me. He asks me to borrow him money all the time and is very nice to me when he asks but then when I have no more money he’s mean again and laughing when he makes me cry and yelling at me if I stand up for myself. He won’t move out or leave and at the same time I am having financial issues so I can’t afford to move out or leave. The appartment lease is in my name so I can’t just abandon my place. If I tried to sublet it he wouldn’t let me. Im scared to call the police because he knows where I live and he would stalk me. I feel stuck and no way out of this with him. He tells me I need help and that I have anxiety problems and to take medication. I never thought I needed that until he started telling me that everyday when I get upset over him being abusive. Someone please tell me what to do and what’s the safest way to get out without getting hurt.

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    You are strong and brave, even if you feel helpless and horrible about your life. Don’t let this experience keep you down! This is exactly what abusive boyfriends want – they want you to feel like you have no power or control.

    Abuse means taking your power away. You can stand up to this abuse by refusing to give him control of your emotions and life.

    Here’s an article about the stages of leaving an abusive relationship:

    It doesn’t happen overnight, but it DOES happen if you focus on getting healthy and happy!

    Have you called a distress line, or a women’s helpline? They can be extremely supportive, and they know all the community resources in your area. Reach out. Get help. Don’t suffer through this alone.

  10. I am in a verbally abusive relationship right now and I want to leave so badly but have no idea what to do. I have 4 kids, 3 with him and the oldest from when I was a teenager. I have money saved but don’t know what to do. Can I try to rent a place of our own and run away? I work as an independent contractor and usually they want an actual pay stub. I called the cops on him Christmas Eve morning when he came home drunk arguing with me while my 6, and 3 year old were asleep in bed with me. They were woken up by him yelling and pushing me to the hall way, grabbing me by my wrist so I couldn’t get to my phone, threw my phone, I grabbed my kids and seen his phone and grabbed it to call the cops but stupid me, I agreed to just have him leave for the day instead of having him go to jail. My kids were all so sad to see him go and scared by what they saw and hear.
    I feel helpless and don’t know what to do now. I feel like I lost my chance to get rid of him finally.

  11. My life is HORRIBLE because my husband will not leave, he will not change , he is a lying, abusive ( physically and emotionally and verbally) sneaky, drug abusing and Lord only knows what else, monster.
    He is a sociopath (textbook ).
    He sucks my life out of me, he makes me wish I was never born.
    I truly believe this man is evil. He hurts me and smiles about it, if I cry he shrugs his shoulders and says ” go away b*tch”. He is cold and calculated and unfeeling.
    A soulless beast. He has done such horrible evil things to me. Things I can’t even speak of or write about.
    I beg him to go and he says ” no”
    ” u go”… I’d go in a heartbeat but I don’t have enuff money. I can’t just up and go so easily with little ones. In my case I’ve dealt with his trash and manipulative personality for 15 yrs. I would leave him. But I have nowhere to go, and no money saved. I never knew life could be so hard.

  12. I’ve only just seen this Alice. I am praying for you. Your post was a while ago so I’m hoping that things are better for you now. I know that feeling of helplessness you are going through when there is nowhere to turn and the only thing you can fall back on is prayer. I’m not very religious but I have felt so lost after being bullied by my partner for years that I resorted to praying. I have now left him but it is early days and I am praying I will stay strong and not go back. One day Alice, you will find happiness again. Stay strong x

  13. Debi,

    I am in the same boat and here soon I will be leaving while he is in Alaska… it is so scary being in a relationship that you feel STUCK and no way out. I have an 8 year old daughter that I have to think about, and when you are in this type of relationship you tend to loose who YOU are and ignore your own heart beat. I encourage you to stay strong in your path and do what you can to make the change in order to find happiness!

  14. Hi Curtis
    I think people need to realize it’s not only women who are being abused in a relationship. I think woman are able to talk about it more therefore it’s mostly women who get more support. I think it must be hard for a man to tell someone that his partner is abusing him . No man or woman should abuse their partner. I hope Curtis whatever you are going through that you find someone that you can talk to who can give you support,I really do cause abuse is an awful action . I hope one day you can move on and meet someone who will treat you right. That’s what I’m hoping for as well. I do hope you don’t mind me replying to your comment.
    take care

  15. Hello
    I’m in an a verbal abusive relationship trying to find the strength to get out of it. I’m now seeing some from woman’s aid to talk to for support for me to realize that I’m not going mentally insane from all the blame and causes of his behaviour towards me. Even when the abuse is there it’s so hard to understand why I take it and don’t leave. Afterwards I’m told he loves me and he if I did annoy him he wouldn’t be the way he is. My struggle will end soon and that light at the end of the tunnel will come.

  16. Very informative and inspiring, though I am deeply offended that this was targeted to men only… for I too share these problems.