Accounts from abuse victims show that generally these relationships begin with someone who is attentive, charming and considerate. Keep in mind, most relationships are not abusive, and we should not let our suspicions and doubt poison a healthy relationship. However, many of those in an abusive relationship do not realize it until it is too late.
There are a few warning signs that are useful to keep in mind as potential red flags when you first start seeing someone:
1. Over Compensating - Would-be abusers often begin a relationship with grand romantic gestures and gifts. Be sure that these are not being used to distract you from serious character flaws such as over-possessiveness, ego-centrism, and volatility.
2. Over Committing - When the grass is green it is natural to think about a relationship progressing towards something. Progression should happen naturally and mutually. If your partner seems to be pressuring and pushing for a more committed relationship earlier than you feel comfortable with, it can be a sign that they want more control over you. Try talking things though with them calmly, if they do not make an attempt to understand you position and make a compromise, then it is a strong sign that the only one they truly care about is themselves.
3. Excessive Jealousy - It is human nature to sometimes feel insecure. Especially at the beginning of a relationship, you may feel a pang of jealousy over things that may otherwise seem perfectly normal. In a healthy relationship, trust should increase over time as you get to know one another and strengthen your bond. If your partner seems to be excessively jealous, despite your reassurances and compromises, then it could be time to reassess whether they truly want to be with you, or simply want to possess you.
4. Over Possessiveness - All too often possessiveness can be mistaken for concern. Be aware of whether their concern is genuinely for you, or they are using it as a front to control and dominate you. If your partner seems to want to know and control your every move, then it is a strong sign that they are attempting to isolate you from your previous life to have greater control over you.
5. Us vs. Them - An attempt to isolate you from your support group can be a serious power play combining possessiveness and jealousy. There are always exceptions to every rule and in some cases a significant other might be trying to remove you from abusive friends or family members, but if you do feel that this person is trying to isolate and remove you from healthy relationships this is a serious problem that requires resolving.
6. Resolution - Always try to discuss issues with your significant other once they become apparent. There may be genuine reasons behind their insecurities that can be easily and reasonably resolved. A partner willing to discuss issues openly without getting angry or defensive should be willing to make compromises for your benefit. If they become confrontational when faced with your concerns, it is time to move on. Though it may be hard in the short term, it is better to wait for the right person than stay in a situation that will inevitably get worse.
By understanding the type of behavior that leads to abuse you can help prevent opportunities for domestic violence and the cycle that leads to it. For other resources regarding relationship “red flags,” here are a few other resources I recommend:
Gavin de Becker’s list of relationship red flags
The Red Flag Campaign
A bit of awareness can go a long ways in empowering yourself or someone you care about to take action. If you found this article useful please share it with others.
Train smart & stay safe,
NOVA Self Defense