Many people can identify an abusive situation when there are the overt signs like when a guy has left a bruise on his girlfriend’s face, if he tells you she has punched him, if he has raped her, if she throws things at him, if one of them screams and calls the other names…. Or any of the other obvious signs that someone is in an abusive relationship. Studies have shown that only 33% of teens who are in an abusive relationship actually ever tell someone. Also, about 80% of girls who are in an abusive relationship continue to stay with the abuser. This is why it is important to be aware of some of the early warning signs that a relationship might turn into an abusive one, so that you can get out before you are hurt.
(I am going to use the pronoun, “he,” for the potential abuser, but know that both men AND women can be the abuser in any relationship.)
Jealousy and Possessiveness- Some of you might have a tendency to feel like this is “romantic” or that “he must really love me.” It can also make you feel important and boost your self-esteem when your partner is jealous of others in your life. But jealousy, especially when unwarranted, is a warning sign that your partner may become abusive. He may begin to get upset or possessive of time that you spend with others…family, friends, maybe even your own children. You may be accused of flirting or cheating. He may want to check your phone calls, texts and other social media messages.
Social Isolation- He may try to find more activities for you to do at home together, just the two of you, away from others. He may begin to tell you that your friends or family do not like him. He may tell you not to talk to a certain person or say that he or she is a bad influence on you.
Constant Contact- He may constantly text or call you wanting to know where you are or who you are with. He may often show up to see you when you are not expecting him.
Mood Swings and Anger- He may be prince charming one minute and the next get very angry about something. He may have a short temper, be easily irritated or overly sensitive to things that are not a big deal to most people. He might throw things or break things when he is angry. And he may minimize his anger or become defensive when confronted about his attitude.
Road Rage- He may become angry and overly irritated while driving.
Blaming Others- He tends to blame others for his actions or his life circumstances.
Negative View of Women- He might talk about how his past partners cheated on him, or he might talk negatively about them or women in general.
Threatens to End Life- He might threaten to end his life if you say you are going to break up with him.
These are just some of the signs to look out for. Anytime you feel uncomfortable with something going on in your relationship, please talk to someone about it. If you have a friend whose personality or habits seem to be changing due to a relationship or there is something about the relationship that is concerning you, please talk to her or him about it, or tell someone else who is influential in your friend’s life. Abuse of any kind needs to be taken seriously. Every person is important and valuable and never deserves to be abused by anyone.