3 Early Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Domestic abuse affects females young and old and is often times mistaken for normal behavior. What classifies as domestic abuse? According to helpguide.org, domestic abuse takes place when one person in an intimate relationship tries to exert control and dominate the other person. Often times domestic abuse is written off because many believe that abuse equates violence. What many people fail to realize however is that abuse is a continuum of behavior which can become deadly. Though many times the relationship may not start off with violence, early behaviors can escalate into physical harm. Violent situations prove difficult to get out of but paying attention to red flags early on can be very beneficial. Here are three early warning signs of an abusive relationship that could save you, a family member, or even a friend.

Warning Sign #1: Your partner acts jealous or possessive

At first a little jealousy in a relationship may seem flattering. It could make you feel good that the person you are with wants you all for themselves. You wouldn’t want your partner being with other people so you might sympathize when they try to keep you away from possible suitors. But when does flattery become jealous or possessive? Does the thought of you being close with members of the opposite sex (or same sex depending on orientation) outrage your partner? Does your partner encourage you to terminate friendships with members of the opposite sex because of fear it will ruin your relationship? Acts such as this can lead to even more controlling behavior which can evolve into isolation and even violence if it is not already present.

Warning Sign #2: Your partner texts or calls you repeatedly in a harassing way

It is always nice to see a cute text or a missed called from your beau when you check your phone. After all, it feels good to know the person who is constantly on your mind is thinking about you too. A quick “whats up” or “what are you up to” throughout the day is harmless enough right? What if your partner gets angry with you for “taking too long” to text back? What if after telling your partner that you will call them back you are bombarded with several more phone calls until you can devote all of your attention to them? Notice the difference between healthy communication and obsession. If you find it difficult to get work done or take part in other activities because you have to constantly be connected to your partner via text or phone call, beware. This is NOT healthy and can lead to even more unacceptable behavior.

Warning Sign #3: Your partner keeps you from talking to or spending time with close friends or family

You start a new relationship and realize that you have been talking to your close friends and family members less and less. Sure starting a new relationship may cause you to put others in your life on the back burner for a bit but is it becoming extreme? Is your partner constantly trying to cut down and control the amount of time that you spend with others in your life who mean a lot to you? An abuser often times will isolate their partner. If action is not taken, eventually ties to friends and family may be severed. With broken relationships the victim often times has nowhere to turn except towards the person who is controlling them in the first place. With no other recourse, a victim may feel as if they have no other option but to stay in the abusive relationship.

Relationships can be easy to get into but unfortunately unhealthy abusive ones can be difficult to get out of. Keeping these warning signs in mind can be just a small step to maintaining healthy relationships. If you feel as though your relationship has already gotten to abusive please don’t panic. There are resources available for you.

For more information check out helpful websites such as helpguide.org. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose number is 1.800.799.SAFE is also a great resource.

Melinda Smith M.A, Jeanne Segal Ph.D
Domestic Violence and Abuse

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