Warning Signs

Red flags & abusive characteristics
  • UPD: 06-25-14
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Think of an abuser as a predator playing a game - a predator who continually changes the game rules and ups the stakes the longer you stay with him. Once the abuse begins to occur, if you can't affect any immediate, permanent resolutions through talking about it, it will not only continue, it will escalate in both in frequency and intensity. Either married, long term relationship or dating, once he knows you are willing to accept his abuse, he'll keep on abusing you. Why would he stop?

By abusing you, he gets what he wants each and every time. His goal is to keep you under control while satisfying his own needs and wants. It's all about him and it always will be unless there is some type of successful, professional intervention - or you end the relationship. He will make promises and more promises, only to break them time and time again. His promises are a cookie, something sweet to keep you coming back for more.

Thinking of getting married? Thinking maybe that will end the abuse? Think again. The only thing that will change is that you will now be married to your abuser. You cannot change him. You can only change yourself.

You have the right to choose how you wish to live. You have the right to end a relationship anytime you want to end it. You have the right to decide to leave your marriage.

Be aware that with emotional and psychological abuse, the longer you stay, the more difficult it is to leave. This is mainly because the Cycle of Abuse wears you down day by day, incident by incident.

The Signs: Sometimes the signs of an abusive person are blatantly obvious - right in your face. Most often, the signs appear as small isolated incidents.

A Simple Truth: They don't want you to find out who they really are so they're going to hide behind their mask of "The Perfect Man", "The Perfect Woman" or your "Soul Mate."

Unfortunately for you, by the time you figure out what's going on you are already suffering the effects of repeated abuse - making it difficult for you to assess your situation clearly. Your self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem have all been damaged. This causes you to doubt yourself and warps your ability to make good judgement calls.

WTF? Pay close attention to your feelings - the little "twigs" - and fire up the horns and sirens when you experience the the "WTF" feeling. All of these are telling you something is way, way wrong. Learn to trust yourself and your gut instincts. If something doesn't feel right - it isn't.

Remember: Abuse affects every aspect of your life - abuse changes you.

Love is in the Air

Ideally, a good time frame to be alone and work on your recovery is two to three years. An old adage states that we should live through the four seasons before becoming involved with someone new.The four seasons lay down a fresh life-page upon which to paint - providing you with valuable healing time to do your inner work; time to rebuild your life in a positive, healthy way.

If and when you do become involved with someone new, please keep in mind that all abusers are excellent actors. In most cases, you won't experience their abusive side until they're sure they've got you "hooked." They'll be a chameleon - changing themselves to become exactly what you want them to be - that's their ticket to winning you over.

Abusive Relationship Warning Signs

Listed below are some clues to help you identify an abuser. Abusers generally exhibit the same type of behavioural patterns. If you learn to recognize those patterns and signals, you can help yourself to stop unhealthy relationships before they begin.

The person in your life is warning you and telling you they have an abusive nature:

1) If he emotionally abuses you. This includes insults, belittling comments, ignoring you, or acting sulky or angry when you initiate an action or idea.

2) If he tells you who you may be friends with, how you should dress, or tries to control other elements of your life or relationship.

3) If he talks negatively about women in general.

4) If he gets jealous when there is no reason.

5) If he drinks heavily, uses drugs, or tries to get you drunk.

6) If he berates you for not wanting to get drunk, get high, have sex, or go with him to an isolated or personal place.

7) If he is physically violent to you or to others, even if it's "just" grabbing and pushing to get his way.

8) If he acts in an intimidating way toward you by invading your "personal space" [ sits too close, speaks as if he knows you much better than he does, touches you when you tell him not to. ]

9) If he is unable to handle sexual and emotional frustrations without becoming angry, sulky or withdrawing.

10) If he does not view you as an equal because he's older or sees himself as smarter or socially superior.

11) If he goes through extreme highs and lows, is kind one minute and cruel the next.

12) If he is angry and threatening to the extent that you are changing your behavior so as not to anger him.

Relationship Red Flags

Definition of Red Flag

1. A warning of danger or a signal to stop.

2. Noticing that something isn’t quite right with your significant other but dismissing it because you want to be with them, don’t want to be single, you like them, etc.

What Red Flags Mean to Love

Red flags warn us that something isn’t right with our partner’s behaviour, actions, etc. Denial and doubt are the main reasons we don’t see or believe red flags that happen to us. Until we recognize and learn from these signs, the same red flags will keep showing up in our existing relationships and our next relationship.

Sometimes we can’t put our finger on what it is, even though we feel uneasy about it. We overlook and misread red flags for many reasons including wanting a relationship to work out, getting caught up in the moment, not believing that someone we care about would do something bad to us and focusing on how wonderful we think our partner is.

We’ve all experienced red flags in our love life.

[Definition of Red Flag and What Red Flags Mean to Love © Janet Ong Zimmerman.Thank you for making this information available.]

Red Flags

  • Were you the 'love of his 'life', his 'soulmate' or new best friend within weeks?
  • Was he initially charming, saying all the right things, "mirroring" your hopes, desires, and feelings?
  • Is he jealous and possessive?
  • Does he have few friends or long-term relationships?
  • Multiple failed relationships?
  • Does he badmouth his ex or other friends?
  • Does he tell lies, big and small?
  • Does the relationship veer from hot to cold? Does he "Jekyll and Hyde"?
  • Does he have an unstable work history, frequent unemployment or job changes?
  • Do you find yourself "covering" for him, making him appear better than he really is?
  • Does he have constant financial problems?
  • Are people mad at him because he doesn't honor his debts?
  • Does he have a lack of realistic goals? A history of living off others?
  • Is he comfortable taking money from you?
  • Has he ever used your credit cards without your knowledge?
  • Does he make you feel guilty about your outside interests, time spent with friends or family?
  • Does he make you feel you're not good enough, that you're lucky to have him?
  • Has he ever humiliated you in public?
  • Does he withdraw love, friendship or approval as punishment?
  • Does he have a bad temper triggered by something seemingly insignificant? Do you often not even know what set him off?
  • Does he always shift blame onto you? Is whatever's wrong always your fault?
  • After raging, does he act like nothing at all has happened?
  • Do you ever feel "smothered" by him?
  • Does he ever threaten, hit or shove you, punch walls, break your things or call you names?
  • Is he always on the "outs" with someone?
  • Does he pressure you to quit or change jobs/friends/relationships/homes?
  • Does he have problems with authority figures?
  • Has he stalked anyone for any reason whatsoever?
  • Has he had Restraining Orders placed on him?
  • Is your self-esteem eroding?
  • Do you sometimes feel you're the crazy one?
  • Is the relationship affecting other aspects of your life?
  • Do you have a gut, "sick" sense that things just aren't right?
  • Do you sometimes wish it would just all "go away"?

[ Relationship Red Flags from Loser Rx by Clinical Psychologist Dr Joseph M. Carver, PhD.  Thank you for making this information available ]

Signs to Look for in an Abusive Personality

Many people are interested in ways to predict whether they are about to become involved with someone who will be physically abusive.

Signs 1-12 If the person has several (three or more) of the first 12 listed behaviours, there is a strong potential for physical violence -- the more signs a person has, the more likely the person is a batterer.

Signs 13-16 Many victims do not realize that these early behaviours are warning signs of potential future physical abuse, such as the last four listed behaviours.

In some cases, a batterer may only have a couple of behaviours that the victim can recognize, but they may be very exaggerated (e.g., will try to explain their behaviour as signs of their love and concern), and a victim may be flattered at first. However, as time goes by, the behaviour becomes more severe and serves to dominate or control the other person.

A list of common behaviours seen in abusive people:

1] Jealousy: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say that jealousy is a sign of love. In truth, jealousy has nothing to do with love, it is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. He will question the other person about whom you talk to, accuse you of flirting or be jealous of the time you spend with your family or friends.

As the jealousy progresses, he may call frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let you work for fear you will meet someone else, or even do strange behaviors like checking your car mileage or asking friends to watch you.

2] Controlling Behavior: At first, he will say that this behavior is because he is concerned with your safety, your need to use your time well, or your need to make good decisions. He will be angry if you are late coming back from an appointment or a class, he will question you closely about where you went and whom you talked to.

As this behavior gets worse, he may not let you make personal decisions about your clothing, hair style, appearance.

3] Quick Involvement: Many people in abusive relationships dated or knew their abusive partners for less than six months before they were married, engaged or living together. Red flags if he comes on like a whirlwind, claiming, "You are the only person I could ever talk to" or "I've never felt like this with anyone before".

He will pressure you to commit to the relationship in such a way that you may later feel guilty or that you are "letting him down" if you want to slow down involvement or break up.

4] Unrealistic Expectations: Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all their needs; he expects you to be the perfect girlfriendfriend, the perfect wide, the perfect friend or the perfect lover. He will say things like, "If you love me, I'm all you need and you are all I need." You are supposed to take care of all of his emotional needs.

5] Isolation: An abusive man will try to cut you off from your support network and resources. He accuses you of being "tied to your mother's apron strings," or your friends of "trying to cause trouble" between you. If you have a friend of the opposite sex, you are "going out on him" and if you have friends of the same sex, he may accuse you of being gay.

6] Blames Others for Problems: He is chronically unemployed, someone is always waiting for him to do wrong or mess up or someone is always out to get him. He may make mistakes and blame you for upsetting him. He may accuse you of preventing him from concentrating on school. He will tell you that you are at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.

7] Blames Others for Feelings: He will tell you, "You make me mad," "You are hurting me by not doing what I want you to do," or "I can't help being angry." The truth is that he makes his own decisions about how he thinks or feels, but will use feelings to try to manipulate you.

8] Hypersensitivity: An abusive person is easily insulted, and he will claim that his feelings are hurt when really he is very mad. He often takes the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. He will rant about things that are really just part of living like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being asked to help others with chores.

9] Cruelty to Animals or Children: This is a person who punishes animals brutally or is insensitive to their pain and suffering. He may tease younger brothers or sisters until they cry.

10] "Playful" use of Force in Sex: This kind of person is likely to be abusive during making out or he may want you to act out fantasies in which you are helpless. He is letting you know that the idea of sex is exciting. He may show little concern about whether you want affection and may sulk or use anger to manipulate you into compliance.

11] Verbal Abuse: In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen when he tries to degrade you, curses you, calls you names or makes fun of your accomplishments. He will tell you that you are stupid and unable to function without him. This may involve waking you up to verbally abuse you or not letting you go to sleep until you talk out an argument.

12] Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde: Many people are confused by their abusive partner's "sudden" changes in mood - you may think he has a mental problem because he is nice one minute and the next minute he is exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who are abusive to their partners, and these behaviors are related to other characteristics like hypersensitivity. See Borderline Personality Disorder

13] Past Battering: He may say that he has hit girlfriends or wives in the past but the other person "made him do it." You may hear from relatives or past female friends that he is abusive.

An abusive person will be physically abusive to any one they are with if the other person is with them long enough for the violence to begin; situational circumstances do not change a person into an abuser.

14] Threats of violence: This could include any threat of physical force meant to control you: "I'll slap you," "I'll kill you," or "I'll break your neck." Most people do not threaten their partners, but he will try to excuse his threats by saying, "Everybody talks that way."

15] Breaking or Striking Objects: This behavior is used as a punishment (breaking loved possessions), but is mostly used to terrorize you into submission. He may beat on the table with his fists, throw objects at or near you, kick the car, slam the door or drive at a high rate of speed or drive recklessly to scare you.

Not only is this a sign of extreme emotional immaturity, but there is great danger when someone thinks they have the "right" to punish or frighten you.

16] Any Force During an Argument: This may involve him grabbing and pulling on your clothing, any pushing or shoving, locking doors or hiding the keys to your car or truck so you can't leave. He may try to back you up against wall, corner you and say, "You are going to listen to me."

[ Signs to Look for in an Abusive Personality © by Knoxville Police Department Domestic Violence Unit website. Thank you for making this information available. ]

Traits and Characteristics of A Violent Offender

One more time: If the abuse occurs during dating, it is very likely to continue after marriage. Once physical abuse has occurred, it is likely to occur again and to escalate over time.

You cannot change the abuser's behaviour. You can only change yourself. It is not necessary to stay in a relationship of fear. You have the right to choose how you wish to live.

The list below provides you with some extremely valuable information. Use it to help you determine if the person you are dating is already an abuser or has the potential to become one.

Signs to Look for When Dating:

  • Low Frustration Tolerance - Reacts to stress in self-defeating ways, unable to cope effectively with anxiety, acts out when frustrated. Frustration leads to aggression.
  • Impulsive - Is quick to act, wants immediate gratification, has little or no consideration for the consequences, lacks insight, has poor judgment, has limited cognitive filtering.
  • Emotional Liability & Depression - Quick-tempered, short-fused, hot-headed, rapid mood swings, moody, sullen, irritable, humorless.
  • Childhood Abuse - Sexual and physical abuse, maternal or paternal deprivation, rejection, abandonment, exposure to violent role models in the home.
  • Loner - Is isolated and withdrawn, has poor interpersonal relations, has no empathy for others, lacks feeling of guilt and remorse.
  • Overly sensitive - Hypersensitive to criticism and real or perceived slights, suspicious, fearful, distrustful, paranoid.
  • Altered Consciousness - Sees red, "blanking," has blackouts, de-realization or de-personalization. ("It's like I wasn't there" or "It was me, but not me"), impaired reality testing, hallucinations.
  • Threats of Violence - Toward self and/or others, direct, veiled, implied, or conditional.
  • Blames Others - Projects blame onto others - Is fatalistic, external locus of control, avoids personal responsibility for behavior, views self as "victim" instead of "victimizer," self-centered, sense of entitlement.
  • Chemical Abuse - Especially alcohol, opiates, amphetamines, crack, and hallucinogens (PCP, LSD), an angry drunk, dramatic personality or mood changes when under the influence.
  • Mental Health Problems Requiring In-Patient Hospitalization - Especially with arrest history for any offenses prior to hospitalization.
  • **History of Violence** - Towards self and others, actual physical force used to injure, harm, or damage. This element is the most significant in assessing individuals for potential dangerousness.
  • Odd/Bizarre Beliefs - Superstitious, magical thinking, religiosity, sexuality, violent fantasies (especially when violence is eroticized), delusions.
  • Physical Problems - Congenital defects, severe acne, scars, stuttering, any of which contribute to poor self-image, lack of self-esteem, and isolation. History of head trauma, brain damage or neurological problems.
  • Preoccupation With Violence Themes - Movies, books, TV, newspaper articles, magazines (detective), music, weapons collections, guns, knives, implements of torture, S & M, Nazi paraphernalia.
  • Pathological Triad/School Problems - Fire-setting, enuresis, cruelty to animals, fighting, truancy, temper tantrums, inability to get along with others, rejection of authority.

[ Traits And Characteristics Of Violent Offenders © by Knoxville Police Department Domestic Violence Unit website. Thank you for making this information available. ]

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These people are here for you. Call them. Explain your situation honestly and openly. This is not the time to defend or protect him or to downplay the extent of abuse you are living with. The bottom line is that abuse is abuse - you don't deserve it.


If you need immediate help contact your local police department or emergency services. Hold him accountable for his actions. DV laws protect everyone. This includes you and all abused women. Claim your rights.

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You Deserve A Break

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    • His mother has a tattoo that says "Son"
    • He once taught a German Sheppard to bark - in Spanish
    • On every continent in the world, there is a sandwich named after him
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    • Once, while sailing around the world, he discovered a short cut
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Of Special Interest
  • Why do women stay in abusive relationships when it is so very obvious we should leave.

  • It's easy - they show themselves. Identify the users & abusers. Get them out of your life for good.

  • The quiz results will provide you with valuable pieces of your puzzle - leaving you no doubt.

  • Do you seem to have a pattern of abusive relationships? Find out what might be going on.