“Is there something wrong with me?” is one of the most common questions I hear from women of all ages in abusive relationships. Part of the cycle of abuse is one partner always blaming their own feelings and everything that goes wrong (or just doesn’t go perfectly right) on the other person, which after awhile they begin to believe.

When others around us tell us that we are constantly at fault and not good enough, we start to tell ourselves that we are to blame and will never measure up. This internal monologue is powerful and guides our impulses, emotions, and behaviour. Often in an abusive relationship, one person is always worried about what their partner is thinking, feeling, and doing, rather than being able to focus on their own needs, wants, and priorities.

If you often find yourself asking “is there something wrong with me” after you spend time with, text, chat or talk with your partner, the answer may be that there is nothing wrong with you, but something wrong with your relationship and the way your partner treats you.

Here are common characteristics of healthy and unhealthy abusive relationships:


  • Listens when you say “no” and isn’t always pressuring you to compromise
  • Supports your goals for the future, even if they don’t share them
  • You share interests but also sometimes do your own thing
  • If/when your partner is feeling jealous they take responsibility for this rather than asking you to act differently
  • You have fun together
  • You always feel safe when you are with them, both physically and emotionally
  • You both respect each other’s boundaries (sexual boundaries, giving privacy, treating the other person the way they want to be treated)


  • Always has to get their way- you are always being the one to compromise
  • Is not supportive of your goals (or only supports goals you share together)
  • You spend all of your time together because your partner gets upset when you make plans without them
  • Your partner has asked you to change who you spend time with, where you go, or what you do because they are jealous
  • You are often fighting or not speaking
  • You have to watch what you say or do to avoid upsetting your partner
  • Your partner pressures you to give them all of your passwords and check your phone to make sure they can trust you

Those closest to us in our lives have the power to build us up or tear us down, but ultimately we have the power to choose who we have close relationships with.

If you aren’t sure if the relationship you are in is healthy or not, speak to a counsellor and tell them what is happening. Many schools have agencies like ours that provide free, confidential counselling during school hours and keep separate records from the school. Kids Help Phone also offers free, anonymous, confidential counselling via chat or phone www.kidshelpphone.ca.

Written by Amber Wardell, Women’s Counselling Program, Haldimand & Norfolk Women’s Services