It can be difficult, at the outset of a relationship, to predict whether a prospective partner will become abusive. However, there are certain danger signals which, in combination, should not be ignored. These involve embarrassment/criticism, control/manipulation, isolation, blame, threats, and violence.
Here is a list of “red flags” :
- A partner who regularly disparages your friends, family, ideas, and goals.
- A partner who deliberately embarrasses and insults you. Such a partner may humiliate you in public, or criticize you viciously in private. He or she may attack your looks or your parenting skills, as a means of undermining your confidence.
- A partner who prevents you from making decisions. This interference may, at first, be as simple as telling you what you can and cannot wear to work.
- A partner who is extremely jealous and possessive. Such a partner continually tracks where you go, whom you meet, and what you do. He or she may expect to you check in, throughout the day, and spend every moment of your free time with him/her.
- A partner with a hair-trigger temper. You walk on eggshells to keep the peace.
- A partner who takes your money or refuses to provide you necessary income for expenses.
- A partner who plays “mind games” to make you feel guilty. Such a partner may, for instance, threaten to commit suicide if you leave him or her.
- A partner who pressures you to have sex, or to engage in a type of sexual activity with which you are not comfortable.
- A partner who prevents you from using birth control.
- A partner who pressures you to use drugs or alcohol.
- A partner who discourages or prevents you from seeing friends and family. Such a partner may begin by fielding the phone calls intended for you, then distort or fail to relay the messages left for you.
- A partner who prevents you from going to work or school.
- A partner who refuses to take responsibility for his/her own actions and failures.
- A partner who blames you for his/her drug or alcohol abuse (and even his/her boss’ behavior).
- A partner who pretends the abuse is not taking place or blames you for it.
- A partner who glares at you in a threatening manner, or acts in a way that frightens you. Such a partner may, for instance, brandish a gun or knife in your presence. He or she may drive at a dangerously high speed with you in the vehicle, despite your pleas to stop.
- A partner who threatens to hurt or kill your pets.
- A partner who threatens to hurt or kill your children, or take custody of them away from you.
- A partner who threatens to hurt or kill you.
- A partner who destroys your property. This may take the form of slashing your clothes or harming a pet.
- A partner who shoves, slaps, chokes, punches, or hits you or your children with an object.
- A partner who attempts to prevent you from pressing criminal charges for abuse.
The tragic fact is that domestic abuse ends in death, in all too many cases. Forewarned is forearmed.
 National Domestic Violence Hotline, “Know the Red Flags of Abuse”, https://www.thehotline.org/2012/09/11/red-flags-of-abuse/.
 New Hope for Women, “Red Flags for Domestic Abuse”, http://www.newhopeforwomen.org/red-flags-for-domestic-abuse.
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