It is an unfortunate fact that the majority of women have suffered some kind of abuse at the hands of men at one time or another. While it is true that one person cannot know everything about another person, there are some things you can guess at with a fair degree of accuracy. If someone doesn’t seem quite right, chances are that hethat he isn’t ‘quite right’.
It is sometimes possible to predict the likelihood of the person you are currently or are about to become involved with of being abusive. Below are a list of behaviors and traits which are common in abusive personalities. These are commonly known as Warning Signs.
While not all abusive people show the same signs, or display the tendencies to the same extent, if you find that several behavioral traits are present, there is a strong tendency toward an abusive personality. Generally, the more signs are presenting themselves, the greater the likelihood of violence. In some cases, an abuser may have only a couple of behavioral traits that can be recognized, but they are verymuch exaggerated (e.g. extreme jealousy over ridiculous things).
Often the abuser will initially try to explain his/her behaviourbehaviors as signs of his/her love and concern., and the victim may be flattered at first, but, as time goes on, the behaviors become more severe and serve to dominate, control and manipulate the victim.
At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will always say the that their jealousy is a sign of their love. He/she may question you about whom you have spoken to or seen during the day, may accuse you of flirting, or be jealous of time you spend with family, friends, children or hobbies which do not include him/her. As the jealousy progresses, he/she may call you frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He/she may be unhappy about or refuse to let you work for fear you'll meet someone else, check the car mileage or ask friends to keep an eye on you. Jealousy is not proof of love, it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness.
This behaviour is often disguised or excused as concern. Concern for your safety, your emotional or mental health, the need to use your time well, or to make sensible decisions. Your abuser may be angry or upset if you are 'late' coming back from work, shopping, visiting friends, etc., even if you told him/her you would be back later back than usual. Your abuser may question you closely about where you were, whom you spoke to, the content of every conversation you held, or why you did something he/she was not involved in. As this behaviour gets worse, you may not be allowed to make personal decisions about the house, clothing, going to church, or how you spend your time or money. You may even be made to ask for permission to leave the house or room. Alternately, he/she may theoretically allow you your own decisions, but penalize you for making the wrong ones. Concern for our loved ones to a certain extent is normal but- trying to control their every move is not.
Many victims of abuse dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser will often claim 'love at first sight', that you are 'made for each other', or that you are the only person whom he could ever talk to so openly, feel so at home with, could understand him so well. He/she may tell you that they have never loved anyone so much or felt so loved by anyone so much before, when in reality you have really only known each other for a short amount of time. He/she needs someone desperately, and will pressure you to commit to him/her or make love before you feel the relationship has reached 'that stage'. He/she may also make you feel guilty for not committing yourself to him/her.
The abuser may expect you to be the perfect husband, wife, mother, father, lover, and friend. He/she is very dependent on you for all his/her needs, and may tell you he/she can fulfill all your needs as lover, friend, and companion. Statements such as: :'”lf you love me”, “I'm all you need.”', and “'You are all I need.'” are common. Your abuser may expect you to provide everything for him/her emotionally, practically, financially or spiritually, and then blame you for not being perfect or living up to expectations.
The abuser may try to curtail your social interaction. He/she may try to prevent you from spending time with your friends or family and demand that you only go places 'together'. He/she may accuse you of being 'tied to your mother's apron strings', ‘not be committed to the relationship’, or view people who are your personal friends as 'causing trouble' or 'trying to put a wedge' between you. He/she may want to live in the country without a phone, not let you use the car, stop you from working, or gaining furthering your education, or qualifications.
Blame-shifting for Problems
Very rarely will an abusive personality accept responsibility for any negative situation or problem. If they are unemployed, can't hold down a job, were thrown out of college or University, or fall out with their family, it is always someone else's fault. They may feel that someone is always doing them wrong, or out to get thiem. He/she may make a mistakes and then blame you for upsetting him/her or preventing him/her from doing as they wished to do.
Blame-shifting for Feelings
The abuser will deny that any feelings stem from within him/her. but he/she will see these feelings as reactions to your behaviour or attitude toward him/her. He/she may say things such as; 'you make me mad', 'you're hurting me by not doing what I ask', or that he/she cannot help feeling mad, upset, etc. Feelings may be used to manipulate you, i.e. 'I would not be angry if you didn't ...' Positive emotions will often also be seen as originating outside the abuser, but are more difficult to detect. Statements such as 'You make me happy' or 'You make me feel good about myself' are also signs that the abuser feels you are responsible for his/her sense of well-being. Either way, you become in his/her mind you become the cause of all feelings both good and bad. Therefore transferring responsibility for his/her emotional well-being and happiness.
Most abusers have very low self-esteem and are therefore easily insulted or upset. They may claim their feelings are 'hurt' when they are really angry, or take unrelated comments as personal attacks. They may perceive normal set-backs (having to work additional hours, being asked to help out, receiving a parking fine, etc.) as grave personal injustices. They may view your preference for something which differs from their own as a criticism of their taste and therefore themselves (e.g. blue wallpaper rather than pink, etc.).
Cruelty to Animals
The abuser may punish animals brutally, be insensitive to their pain or suffering, or neglect to care for them to the point of cruelty. There is a strong correlation between cruelty to animals and domestic violence which is still being researched.
Cruelty to Children
The abusers unrealistic expectations of their partner are often mirrored in their attitude toward children. He/she will think of children as 'small adults' and blame the children for not being responsible, having common sense, or understanding. He/she may expect children to be capable of things far beyond their ability (e.g. is angry with a two-year old for wetting their pants or being sick on the carpet, waking at night or being upset by nightmares) and will often meet out punishments for 'naughtiness' the child could not be aware of. Abusers may tease children until they cry, or punish children much further, way beyond what could be deemed appropriate. He/she may not want children to eat at the table, expect them to stay quiet, or keep to their room all evening while he/she is at home. Since abusers want all your attention focused on themselves, they resent your spending time with the children or any normal demands and needs the children may have. There is a very strong link between Domestic Violence and Child Abuse.
See Warning Signs - Part Two