• Sarah Strong

10 Warning Signs of Abuse

After leaving an abusive relationship, I started to look back at the start of the relationship and identified some red flags I missed. Awareness is key when it comes to preventing domestic violence. To help others, I have created a list of some red flags to look for in dating.

1. They won’t take “no” for an answer. I told my ex I was not interested in dating him. I said “no.” But he kept on pursuing me, hard. At the time, I thought it was romantic probably due to skewed ideas of love shown in romance movies. Later in the relationship, his not accepting a “no” led to bigger and more dangerous problems for me.

2. They have a history of physical violence. If they’re constantly getting into fist-fights and seem to show that physical violence solves their problems—run.

3. They can’t admit fault for anything. At one point, my ex blamed a cop for him getting a speeding ticket for going 10 mph over the speed limit. He could not admit fault for anything, ever. Abusers tend to always find someone else to blame.

4. They call all of their exes crazy. All of them. All breakups were the other person’s fault. They were always the victim. This is a very common tactic of abusers to draw pity from their next victim.

5. The relationship moves really fast. I married my abuser three months after we started dating. Wait, what?! Abusers commonly move relationships along quickly so you’re hooked before you find out who they really are.

6. Extreme infatuation/adoration in the beginning. Another common tactic of abusers is to be so aggressively charming and flattering in the beginning that you feel like you’re in a fairytale. Yes, you should feel like the person you’re dating is into you. But this is something far more. They will idolize you and make their whole life about you. It is an unhealthy obsession.

7. Damaging or destroying property. If they physically break things when angry, this is a very strong indicator that they can become physically aggressive toward you. Whether it’s punching walls, throwing things, etc., it’s not good.

8. Isolating/ silent treatment. Many leading experts on abuse classify the silent treatment as abuse. My abuser commonly used this when we had an argument. He would even walk out of the room and leave without saying anything, or put his phone on silent and ignore me. Real adults discuss their problems. Isolating and using the silent treatment is another form of control.

9. Yelling. If the person you’re dating often takes to yelling at you or others when angry, this can be a telling sign of abuse.

10. Possessive/controlling behavior. Abusers tend to think of their victims as their property. They may directly say things like, “you’re mine.” Or maybe they control where you go or who you talk to. If you feel like you don’t have free will in your relationship, it may be a sign to get out.

This list is not comprehensive. It is just a list of 10 warning signs I have noticed in my past experience and in my research on DV. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. If you need help leaving an abusive relationship, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799- SAFE.

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