In many cases, an abuser is not abusive in the early stages of a relationship. If abusive behaviors occurred in the immediate stages of a love affair, chances are, the relationship would end immediately. Usually, abusive behaviors occur over longer periods of time, otherwise, victims would not stay in a relationship and employees in the counseling/domestic violence fields would probably be out of business. Although an abuser may not show his/her true colors until both people are comfortable in a relationship, there are many ways to identify red flags that your relationship may take a 360 in the future.
How do you identify an abuser?
RED FLAG #1
In the beginning of relationships, it is exciting and new. Many couples want to spend alot of time together, however, if every minute includes togetherness and eliminates friends and family then this can shoot off a major red flare. Isolation is usually a warning sign that you may be teamed up with an abuser. If the person you are in a relationship with wants you all to themselves and often turns you against family and friends, this serves as a major warning and usually will only get worse. If an abuser takes away your friends and family, the next step can mean isolating you from society, not allowing you to socialize or work, and forcing you to live life cooped up. Some may look at these gestures or behaviors as being flattering because “he/she really loves me and wants to be with me all of the time”. The truth is, a victim probably will not feel this way after they realize they are living worse than a person in an 8X8 jail cell.
RED FLAG #2
In new found relationships, it is exciting waiting for phone calls. It is part of the chase in the game of love. Usually people take it easy and try not to rush into things in fear that it will turn the other partner away. In some cases, a partner may begin calling numerous times a day without permission. Simple phone calls may be about what you are doing, or what you are going to do even though you already have a date scheduled with this person at 7 PM. Again, plenty of phone calls may come off as being flattering, but also can be a major red flag. Assess the situation and figure out if the person is calling you out of excitement or simply because you are becoming a possession. Is he/she is calling because of insecurities or because you have actually requested them to consume half of your days with answering to their becken calls? Jealousy and possession may be present with consistent phone calls…beware!
RED FLAG #3
Not to assume that people cannot change, however, be aware to if there is a history of family violence with your potential abuser. If it is something you heard, repeatedly from others, and is denied, chances are that it has existed. Usually violence turns cycles. It is a behavior that is passed on and learned by surrounding individuals. If this person you are dating was divorced twice because of alleged violence, take what you have heard and run away from the relationship. If this person lived and grew up in an abusive household, and never received counseling or help, they may show abusive behaviors in the future.
Some people can change, however, the success rate is under 10% for abusers (according to what I learned as a former counselor).
RED FLAG #4
Is the person you are dating controlling your every move? For example, are they monitoring times when you leave the house and when you come home or even asking you to call them immediately whenever you go somewhere new? Are they calling friends and family to locate you just to simply find out where you are? Does this person in your life control your expenses, what you can and can’t buy, or constantly demand alternatives to the way you dress, eat, and basically live life? If your answer is yes to one or more of the questions, then you may want to be on a red flag alert. Instead of giving you alternatives because he/she cares, they may be demanding changes to hold contol in the relationship. Remember, things usually get worse before they get better. Behaviors of control may get worse, then better, and continuously cycle in a worse/better pattern.
RED FLAG #5
If you notice your partner displays a different attitude in public than what he normally displays in the household, consider this a red flag in some instances. This person you are involved with may be admired by the public, a fellow church citizen, and reputable around friends, however, does this same person act admirable when it is just you two alone? If not, this person is pretending to be someone he/she is not and may be covering up abusive behaviors so that everyone will believe he/she is actually a nice person. Sure, we all put on smiley faces at times to cover up pain, but if you see this as more of a habit, it can be a major red flag that abuse may occur.
In conclusion, there are lists of red flags you can obtain from the internet, books, or even your local shelters. To list a few, these five redflags are a start on how you can identify an abuser. If one red flag occurs, it does not necessarily mean that you are dating an abuser, however, if you notice many warning signs then you can almost guarantee that behaviors your partner displays are not out of love, but out of control, jealousy, and isolation methods. It is very hard to determine what a person is like or will be like in the future, because, initially we all tend to act nice to get what we want. With a little knowledge and progressively identifying red flags, one can save themselves from a life time of pain and help to break the cycle of violence.