21 Songs That Speak the Truth About Abusive Relationships

Have you ever listened to a track and realized that it describes and relates to the current state of your relationship? Songs about abusive relationships talk about more than their toxic nature as it speaks the truth we sometimes do not want to hear.

Abuse in a relationship can take any form, whether physical, sexual, or emotional. While it might not be obvious in many cases that you might be in an abusive relationship, this list will give you a lot of insight that could be helpful.

They tell multiple unique stories of struggles in such relationships, while others are of triumphs to strengthen the listeners.


21 Songs About Abusive Relationships

If you are not in a great place emotionally, sit back and reevaluate your relationship through these songs that span multiple genres and generations.


1. I Don’t Wanna Live Forever – Zayn & Taylor Swift

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The first song in this playlist is from a collaboration between Zayn and Taylor Swift for Fifty Shades Darker, which has gained more than 700 million views on YouTube.

The intense song is about an interesting relationship of a broken-up couple where one of the partners wants to reunite.  The first thought that comes to mind is whether you dodged a bullet or lost the love of your life. This is how unsure the partner feels about the relationship.

Recommended: Manipulation Melodies: 21 Songs About Gaslighting.


2. Jealous – Beyoncé

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Beyoncé’s Jealous is a self-referential track discussing her feelings of jealousy, suspicion, and revenge towards her partner.

The song’s lyrics tell a story of a man that keeps on breaking Beyoncé’s heart and trust. It perfectly describes how some people in relationships with untrustworthy partners feel.


3. Bad Things – Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello

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The duet between Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello is about a sexually charged relationship between a good girl and a bad boy. We get to see the negative influence of the boy on the girl and how it eventually changes her.

The composers created dark poetry with philosophical rhymes, which leaves much room for the listener’s imagination. While a bad boy – good girl couple sounds cool at first, it might ruin the girl in the long run.


4. Behind the Wall – Tracy Chapman

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This song is one of the saddest pieces I have ever listened to. The lyrics voice the anguish of a hypothetical neighbor who listens behind a wall to the horror of physical domestic abuse next door during the night.

The song also shows how we, the witnesses and the law enforcement, view physical abuse in relationships, with most not interfering.


5. Love The Way You Lie – Eminem & Rihanna

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The next song about abusive relationships describes the dangerous cycle of being trapped within a love-hate relationship.

The song tells the story of someone who is a habitual physical abuser. It also shows that one partner is always lying in the relationship and always finds ways of justifying the lies.

The song was released in 2010 and is among the bestselling songs of the year, with billions of streams across multiple streaming platforms.


6. He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) – The Crystals

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He Hit Me is the perfect reflection on the power of abusive relationships and the length by which victims of physical abuse feel in most relationships.

The song narrates a heartbreaking tale of a woman desperate for love and acceptance that she willingly takes on abuse. It speaks to a culture of women who are emotionally manipulated.


7. Paralyzed – Sueca

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Paralyzed is a song that shows abuse in relationships can even affect men. The lyrics are about a man trapped in a relationship with a tempered woman.

Her anger and temper are destructive and unpredictable, but he is still stuck with her. Though the man acknowledges that their relationship is toxic, he doesn’t want to leave it.


8. No Children – The Mountain Goats

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This song began as a funny piece about divorce, but today, listeners view it as something more: a vessel that openly highlights abusive relationships. The composer tells the listeners a story of a couple unhappy in their marriage.

The couple is so upset in their union and will do everything in their power to make their relationship fail. The song was released in 2002 on their Tallahassee album.

Recommended: 21 Songs About the Joys and Struggles of Being 16.


9. Grenade – Bruno Mars

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Grenade is one of the most popular songs about abusive relationships as it is catchy to sing along and relatable by many.

It is about a man who is overly devoted to the point of putting himself in physical harm because of her, yet he knows she wouldn’t do the same.

The song speaks the truth of many relationships where one partner will make sacrifices while the other won’t.


10. Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

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“Happier Than Ever,” tells a positive narration of triumph from an abusive relationship. The composer narrates her own story of a prior abusive relationship she was in. It shows how that relationship led to her isolation from her friends and family.

Billie later realizes she is better when she is away from all that abuse and even happier.


11. Kiss with a Fist – Florence + The Machine

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This short, upbeat song is about a couple that constantly gets into fights with each other. Their fights start with a single fist but later escalate to a more violent battle leading to broken dishes and fire.

The song also shows that abuse is not a one-time thing, as it has happened before and is prone to occur again.


12. Outside of That – Bessie Smith

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This Blues song was composed about a century ago, and its message is still relevant to this day. In the song, the composer writes off her lover’s physical abuse as a minor huddle in their relationship.

She is so swept off by the passion she has for her man to see that she is not in a healthy relationship. Her willingness to forgive the violent experience is still common in most relationships in this day and age.


13. This Is How I Learn To Say No – Emeline

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Out of all songs about abusive relationships in this playlist, this is my personal favorite as it is a triumph piece that shows you can have the strength to get out of an abusive relationship and set boundaries for yourself.

I found the track to be vulnerable, yet at the same time, it is quite empowering. Emeline wrote the song inspired by her past failed relationship that she saw as toxic.


14. Cold – Maroon 5 & Future

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The lyrics of this song are about a relationship that went sour, and the couple is left wondering how they got there.

It is from the perspective of a man in a difficult relationship who feels like everything they have is fading away. The composer is left wondering if he is the architect of his problems.


15. I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

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Taylor Swift is one of the best music composers of this generation and is mainly known for making songs about troubled relationships.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” is similar to the other song in her catalog, which talks about a bad relationship.

The song focuses on ignoring the red flags at the beginning of a relationship, and they eventually catch up to you.

Recommended: 21 Empowering Songs About Not Fitting In.


16. Goodbye Earl – The Chicks

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Goodbye Earl uses dark comedy to tell a sad story about domestic abuse. The song starts with Wands marrying Earl straight after high school and ending up in an abusive relationship.

After experiencing one of her worst abuses leading to her being hospitalized in intensive care, her friend Mary returns to turn to plot the murder of Earl.

The song should remind anyone in an abusive relationship to avoid letting things get that far.


17. Never Again – Nickelback

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While most of the other songs about abusive relationships in the playlist are from the perspective of one of the partners, this track is from a child’s point of view.

It tells a story of a father who had a drinking problem and would often abuse the mother in front of their children. The lyrics show how fearful the child was to the point he believed that his father would go far and eventually kill his mother.

However, what ends up happening is that his mother kills him with a pistol. It never has to end up like this.


18. Hot N Cold – Katy Perry

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While most couples would not admit it, emotional abuse is common in many relationships. Hot N Cold compared the composer’s relationship with her mystery lover as confusing, and she views it as emotional manipulation towards her.

The song paints a picture of emotional abuse in a relationship as equal to narcissism.


19. Run For Your Life – The Beatles

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This song was written by John Lennon when he got inspiration from Elvis Presley’s song. John twisted Elvis’s lyrics, which were a theme of the desire to sound like jealousy.

The threatening tone highlights the message of abuse common in some relationships.


20. Kim – Eminem

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In this rap song, Eminem explicitly talks about his wife, Kimberly, and their volatile relationship and divorce. The track is a prequel to a darker song by the composer, who raps some pretty shocking stuff about her.

The intense anger and hate they had towards each other is what an unhealthy and abusive relationship is.


21. Love Hurts – Nazareth

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The last song in this playlist disputes the narration that love is beautiful. It shows that, in some cases, love can be one of the biggest causes of pain due to tolerating the abuse that comes with it.

If love has led to the pain you are going through, whether emotional or physical, then this track will relate to you.


Last Words

When it comes to the affairs of the heart, things become messy and complicated quickly. It’s sad, but the truth is that relationship abuse is more prevalent than we would like to admit.

That is why multiple songs about abusive relationships have been composed to normalize discussing the issue.

If you are struggling to get out of an abusive relationship, these songs on the playlist are dedicated to you. Hopefully, you will find the strength to leave this toxic relationship behind.


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Music is the lifeblood of my veins. I love to listen, play and write music. Being a music band manager is what I love to do mostly because I love working with artists on their personal branding and brand building while helping them find the next level of success.

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