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Signs of a Controlling Spouse

By Sheryl Rentz on July 24, 2013

According to a poll commissioned by, about 36 percent of Americans said they divorced in order to escape relationships that had become verbally or physically abusive. Domestic violence can take many forms and often develops subtly over a period of time. CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Sheryl Cates says that patterns of coercive control that one person exercises over another fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse, such as threats and intimidation, physical harm, or economic deprivation.

In many cases, victims of abuse are unaware that they are involved in an unhealthy, and sometimes dangerous, relationship until the abuser has taken over his or her life. Whether dating or years into a marriage, it’s important to identify the warning signs and know when it’s time to escape a toxic situation.

Common signs of controlling behavior include:

Intense emotions – Your partner is quick to anger, sadness, or panic as a way of manipulating others. They can switch from charming and sweet to mean and aggressive the second they don’t get what they want.

Impossible to please – Nothing is ever good enough for your partner because he or she holds others to such high standards that no one can ever make him or her happy.

Sense of entitlement – Your partner feels superior to others and believes the rules do not apply to him or her. He or she will take advantage of almost anyone.

Lack of respect – Your partner does not respect your boundaries and will often criticize or belittle you in front of others.

The most important sign of a controlling relationship is how the other person negatively influences you. If your partner often leaves you feeling drained, guilty, fearful, unsafe, or sorry for yourself, it may be time to get help and leave the destructive relationship.

Pennsylvania domestic violence lawyer Sheryl R. Rentz understands how difficult it can be for someone caught in an abusive relationship to seek help. If you or someone you care about has suffered threats or actual abuse in Pennsylvania, an attorney can help you find the protection you need. Please call (610) 645-0100 for a free and confidential consultation to learn more about your legal rights as a domestic abuse survivor.

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