All too often those who are in abusive relationships didn’t recognize the initial warning signs that the relationship was an unhealthy one. They suffer through abuse and degradation, to hopefully emerge as survivors. However, some do not. By studying these early signs of an abusive relationship, you will be able to better recognize the beginning stages of cycles of abusive behavior, and potentially safe yourself or a loved one.
Not-so-constructive criticism: It is one thing to provide constructive criticism to someone about ways that they can improve their attitude, appearance, etc., but when criticism is constant and destructive, then you should view it as a red flag. This tactic is about humiliation, so be aware of constant comments about physical appearance (height, weight, etc.) and intelligence. To further humiliate you, your partner may criticize you in front of others. This type of criticism does not have to be overt, and your partner could initially try to pass it off as a joke.
Hoarding time: There is a difference in wanting to spend every waking minute with someone, and actually being forced to do so. An early sign of an abusive relationship can involve your partner keeping you from spending time with your friends and family. It can begin as cutesy statements like “Baby, don’t leave me,” followed by guilt trips, demands, and isolation. In many instances the ultimate goal of abusers is to isolate their victims from friends, family, and methods of outside communication, so pay attention to early signs before the situation escalates.
Jealousy: Some say that a little jealousy is healthy for a relationship, but when your partner becomes jealous of those close to you, especially your family, then you should acknowledge that it could be a warning sign. An abusive partner can view you as a possession, and can become jealous when friends and family want to spend time with you. Feelings of jealousy can quickly turn into anger and rage in abusive relationships.
Quick temper: Many individuals have short tempers and are quick to say things that they don’t mean, however, having a quick temper becomes a warning sign when the anger is created from small occurrences. If your partner erupts in anger over the little things then you may want to reexamine your relationship. Forgetting to take out the garbage, not having dinner ready on time, or being five minutes late should not foster shouting matches and rage. If you experience situations like this on a regular basis then you should be alert and aware, because incidences like these can quickly turn violent.
These are some of the most common early warning signs of abusive relationships. Remember, the laundry list of warning signs is a long one, and some can be unique to your own relationship. Rely on your instincts. If your partner, or your loved one’s partner behaves in a way that makes you uncomfortable, then you should rethink your own relationship, or encourage your loved one to rethink theirs. Remember that men aren’t the only abusers in relationships; women can also perpetrate abuse. For more information about domestic abuse please visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline website or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).