The first sign of an abusive relationship to be aware of is internal and should be easy: ARE YOU AFRAID OF YOUR SPOUSE?
Are you in constant “duck and cover” mode? Do you have to watch what you say for fear of an angry tirade over subjects that seem benign? Are you constantly criticized or belittled? Has your partner taken your belongings? Or even destroyed them? Has your partner limited your access to the outside world? Are you treated horribly in front of family and friends? Are you the blame for EVERYTHING GONE WRONG? Do you believe you are stupid and worthless and deserve to be demeaned? Yelled at? Ignored? Blamed? And, most important, are you fearful of physical punishment? Has your partner threatened you? Or even your loved ones? Has he/she become violent?
Any of the above constitutes an abusive relationship. This implies that you may be in danger and that no matter how much you may think you love the person or how much you may deserve ridicule, at the least, and physical harm, at the most, you MUST leave and get to a place of safety.
If a partner is continually jealous or angry, threatening and controlling, you are in the midst of an abusive relationship and it is not going to get better. And more than your self-esteem is at risk; it could be your very life. Or even your children. There is no way to “fix” this relationship, especially if you feel you deserve the abuse. The only thing you can do is get to a place of safety and away from the situation, so that you can assess what is really going on and what your role in it is. There, you can clear your mind to determine if you need professional help and what the next steps might be.
Remember the famous words of Einstein:
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”