In visiting with people about domestic violence, one question seems to always be asked:
How do I recognize – or help others recognize – an abuser, and avoid a relationship with them?
This is such an important question. The earlier a person recognizes a potential abuser, the easier it is to avoid a relationship or get out of it sooner thereby avoiding or mitigating the risk of harm.
According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
Abuse is not just physical harm. Domestic abuse is also emotional harm, financial harm, sexual harm, and digital harm.
While not all abusers are alike, many exhibit similar early warning signs. Below is a list of common warning signs that a person has the potential to be abusive.
  • Possessive
  • Over controlling
  • Obsessive
  • Entitled
  • Dominate
  • Impatient
  • Isolating from friends or family
  • Jealous
  • Lying
  • Secretive
  • Imposing
  • Explosive temper
  • Aggressive toward others
  • Blaming
  • Belittling
  • Berating
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Unreliable
  • Invasive of your privacy (such as your phone)
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Charming
  • Extremely complimentary before they know you
  • Forceful
  • Monitors your whereabouts
How many red flags are too many? I don’t know that there is an answer to this. But, I would certainly consider the purpose of the behavior.

If the behaviors are to establish and/or maintain power and control in the relationship, you are probably in or headed into a relationship with a potential abuser.

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash