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Recognizing Unhealthy Relationship Behaviors

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Most relationships consist of a mixture of healthy and unhealthy behaviors. No relationship is perfect, but it’s important to recognize the warning signs of unhealthy behaviors. Relationships can start out great, but unreasonable expectations and controlling behaviors can emerge over time, causing common conflicts to escalate and the relationship to become abusive.

What is unhealthy behavior?

When you’re in the throes of the honeymoon phase, it’s not always easy to see how a relationship may evolve over time, or how a loving partner could become controlling or possessive. Unhealthy behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify over time.

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their relationships.

Have questions or need to make a plan?

Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647, or contact your local Family Advocacy Program office.

Unhealthy behaviors such as abuse and control take many forms — physical, economic, emotional and/or sexual — and can happen to anyone. Learn to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your partner get upset when you make plans to go out with your friends?
  • Are they obsessive about who you interact with on social media?
  • Does your partner talk over you or dismiss what you say in public?
  • Does your partner avoid family get-togethers and discourage you from visiting friends and family?
  • Do they try to control all the money?
  • Do they discourage you from going back to school and pursuing a better career?
  • Do they tell you what to wear?
  • Does your partner go through your phone and read your texts?

Abuse doesn’t look the same in every relationship because each relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner’s aim is to gain more power and control over their partner.

Have you recognized any unhealthy behaviors in your relationship?

How to get help: Family Advocacy Program and more

It is important to recognize the warning signs that could escalate into domestic abuse. Everyone deserves to be healthy and safe in their relationships. The Family Advocacy Program, administered through the Defense Department, is committed to educating and supporting service members and their families impacted by domestic abuse through victim advocacy and crisis intervention.

Your local FAP staff can help you understand options for reporting, document your abuse, create a safety plan and create a network of support. Whenever you want to explore next steps, or learn about options for support, they can find the right help for you.

No matter where your relationship lies on the healthy/unhealthy scale, help is available and you have options. It’s safe to reach out when and if you want to. Confidential information and support is free and available 24/7.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can use the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator to find the FAP office nearest to you. Or, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for 24/7 help in English, Spanish and more than 140 other languages.

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Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator

Find help for domestic abuse from the victim advocate closest to you by using the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator — whether you’re in the United States or overseas.

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