Along the Road to Domestic Abuse: 10 Warning Signs

Today’s Tuesday Tip: 10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship.

On the Road to Abuse: Warning Signs  If you or someone you know wants more information on how to get or give help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE.    

10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship:

1. A Push for Quick Involvement.  It is a big red flag when anyone pushes you too quickly.  This could be “I love you” within days or weeks, and exclusivity before you are ready.  This could be moving in together or sharing bills within weeks or months.  You may be asked to trust someone too early with important matters like children or finances.
2. Past Battering. If they have been abusive in the past, even if they have what they consider good excuses for it, this is a huge sign that you are on the road to a similar experience.  Keep in mind that people who grew up in abusive homes tend to repeat those patterns as adults- it is ingrained as normal for them, and takes a lot of help/work/counseling to break the cycle.
3. Controlling Behavior.  Under the guise of concern or helping you, makes decisions for you.  Must have constant contact through messaging, phone calls, etc.  Tells you what to wear, eat, do, and say.  Insists on having the passwords to your accounts.  Gets upset when you don’t follow their advice/direction/instructions.
4. Jealousy and Possessiveness.  Possessive over you, your relationships, and your time. Jealous of family, friends, co-workers, and other contacts.   Grills you on where you have been, who you were with, and what you were doing.  Accusations of lying, cheating, and flirting.
5. Begins the Process of Isolation. It starts out small- putting down certain friends, claiming discomfort around your family, criticizes your relationships.  This leads to making it difficult for you to see family and friends, to cutting off any outside resources.  You might hear the phrase “we are enough for each other.”  This tends to develop into restraining you from leaving, forcing you to quit work or school or other social activities.
6. Blames Others.  Refuses to take responsibility for choices or feelings or circumstances.  Says things like  “If You/They Didn’t… Then I Wouldn’t…” and “You make me angry,” and “They screwed me over.”  Makes comments that allude to feelings that the world is against them or owes them something.Newspaper danger ahead
7. Lack of Respect and Empathy.  Verbally abusive to you and others.  Name calling, even as “jokes.”  Finds humor in others’ pain.  Common expressions may be “I hate people.” and “They were asking for it.”  When called on their lack of respect, they may accuse you of being over sensitive.
8. Hypersensitivity. Easily offended.  Unpredictably emotional.  May “blow up” over anything.  Takes everything as a personal attack.  
9. Sexually Controlling.  Aggressive or forceful about sex with disregard to your desires.  Manipulates you using sex, and uses sulking, silent treatment, and anger to coerce you (into or out of sexual activity).
10. Violent.  Picks physical fights with people.  Brags about beating others.  Yells, Hits, kicks, pinches, bites, pushes, punches, or restrains you or others.  Throws things, breaks things, pounds on things.  Acts out violently.
These are some of the characteristics of an abuser.  If you have been, or are with someone who is abusive, know that it isn’t your fault.  You DO have power over your situation, and there is help!  Every person deserves to be treated with respect.  Just call and talk with the people at the Domestic Violence Resource Center.  1-800-799-SAFE.
Note: This post is gender neutral: instead of saying “he or she,” we used “they and their” because domestic abuse affects all genders.   We tend to ignore women abusing men, though we have seen these warning signs in them as well.
Most articles on domestic abuse are written for women being abused by men.  While this is the most common, ignoring the other demographics perpetuates abuse on and by other genders.