Verbal & emotional abuse in a relationship can lead to violence

9 Warning Signs Your Partner Is Abusive & Outright Dangerous

Is your partner irrationally jealous for no good reason? Does he obsessively text or call you, demanding to know where you are? Does he question you over your every move? Does he control & monitor your activities?

If so, you are more than likely in an abusive relationship that is harming your mental, emotional & physical health.

There’s nothing more heartbreaking or soul destroying, than fearing someone you love.

It creates a conflict between two instincts that should never compete:

Your natural instinct to want to stay in a secure environment.

And your natural instinct to flee when you sense you’re in danger.

This seesaw of conflicting emotions, is what prevents many women from avoiding inevitable harm.

Your partner most likely appeared to be the “sweetest, most attentive, most loving” guy you’d ever met.

Yet now you’re consumed with fear & self doubt.

Did you know that most women in abusive relationships feel so crazy, they don’t even know it’s abuse?


Because an abusers most manipulative & crazy making tactic is:

Convincing the woman that he acts the way he does “because of her” or “because of his love for her”.

Let’s be clear on two things:

you are not the cause of his behaviour,

nor is his love for you the reason he is abusive.

Whether you’ve realized that you’re in an abusive relationship or not, something has triggered your fear. And now you have questions…

Intuition can be a warning sign for intimate partner violence

His Abuse Seems To Be Escalating & I've Wondered If He'll Become Violent?

As heartbreaking as it is to hear, the fact that you are even asking the question means the potential for violence is already there.

Because one of many warning signs for violence is: a woman having intuitive feelings she is at risk.

Women intuitively know when something feels ‘off’, but they don’t always act on their intuition that is there to protect them. Even when their internal alarm system is sounding, they often feel irrational for thinking they’re in danger. Something no other living species on the planet does.

But since an emotionally abusive relationship already has you questioning your sanity, it makes sense that your ability to trust your intuition has been dulled.

You’re not alone…

Countless women grapple with the confusion of the mixed signals they’re receiving from their partners:

“He says he loves me but I wake up every day walking on eggshells. The mind games are crazy making & his rules change on the fly. Everything I do seems to make him angry & he’s starting to really scare me…”

What you are about to learn, is that there are many reliable warning signs for both relationship violence & intimate partner homicide.

The early warning signs for relationship violence

Warning Signs In The Early Stages Of Relationships That Become Violent

So let’s start with the warning signs that might occur early on in the relationship:

You intuitively felt you were at risk

Even in the honeymoon phase, there were things he did or said that set off alarm bells. Yet given every question you had about his behaviour, was being responded to with; “because I love you”, you might have thought you were overreacting.

The pace of the relationship

Your relationship moved towards commitment extremely fast. For example: you become a couple very quickly, or he wants to move in together, or proposes marriage in a hurry.

He says you’re his soul mate, so why wait? The faster he can have you emotionally invested, the sooner he can satisfy his insatiable need for control.

He makes unrealistic, fantasy statements about never ending love

For example: “We’re meant to be together” – “You’re the woman of my dreams” – “It’s god’s will that we are together” – “It’s our destiny to be together” – “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before” – “Our love will last for eternity.”

These statements should, and probably already did alert you. They might have made you feel like he was your “soul mate”, yet something about his intensity made you feel uneasy.

He constantly needs to check on you

“Where are you?” – “What are you up to?” – “Who are you with?” – “Why haven’t you replied to my text?”

When you are under the spell of his charm in the early stages, his checking on you no doubt felt flattering. But be assured, the constant tracking of your movements is nothing to do with love. These are the early warning signs of control.

He frequently displays unwarranted jealousy

The signs of jealousy will usually be more contained in the early stages, but they will be there. He may show levels of agitation when you spend time with other people or on other things – outside of the relationship.

He shows signs of possessiveness

Just like jealousy, the signs might be more subtle in the early stages. They might be in the form of sweet words “you’re mine.” But let me assure you, there will be nothing cute about those words further down the track. “You’re mine” = “My rightfully owned property.”

He refuses to hear your NO

He treats the word ‘no’ as the beginning of a negotiation, rather than the end of a discussion. He refuses to hear your no, as he sees it as a rejection. Eventually, almost everything you do that doesn’t give him control, will result in increased hostility.

He isolates you from friends, family or co-workers

The early attempts at isolating you, are usually deceitfully disguised. Here are some examples of the manipulation he might use:

  • “I feel like your friend is jealous & doesn’t want us to be together.”
  • “That friend isn’t good for you & I’ve got your best interests at heart.”
  • “They’re trying to destroy our relationship.”
  • “I’m just trying to protect our relationship.”
He convinces you to reduce your normal activities outside of the relationship

Covert manipulation: “Why do you have to go and do ‘xyz’ tonight? Don’t you want to be with me?”

Blatant manipulation: “You wouldn’t be going to ‘xyz’ event if you really loved me…”

An important note:

In relationships that become violent, there’s often an extreme level of intensity in the way he pursues the relationship in the early stages. A tactic often referred to as love bombing, which in itself is another form of control.

Escalating levels of power & control - the risk for intimate partner homicide

The Unveiling Of His Mask Once He’s Secured The Relationship

When you ask women if they can pinpoint when the abuse or violence started, they will often tell you it was a shock, as it seemed to “happen out of nowhere.”

Like one day he was the most loving amazing man she’d ever met, and then suddenly ‘x’ happened.

SEE ALSO: Till death do us part – How psychopaths mask as soulmates

Here’s a clue on what really happened, that will dispel some myths about abuse “happening out of nowhere.”…

No guy is about to say:

“Hey, how fast can you show you’re emotionally committed to me, so I can get started with my insatiable need for control?”

He’s well aware that there’s a different ‘hooking point’ of emotional investment for each woman.

And this is the part that has many women baffled…

…They miss the link between him feeling reasonably secure that she is emotionally invested enough – and the abuse starting.

For some abusers, the green light that she was emotionally invested enough to not leave easily – was sex.

For others, her agreeing to move in with him or quit her job for him, showed that she was emotionally invested.

In other cases, he’s not secure in her emotional investment until they’re engaged or married. Or she becomes pregnant, or has given birth. Or is financially dependent on him.

Either way, the severity of his abuse most likely didn’t start until he was confident “his woman”, would not easily want to leave him.

By the time his mask comes off the woman is so invested in the relationship, she’s convinced there’s a way to fix it. She lives in eternal hope that any day now, he’ll return to his former self – despite the abuse she’s experiencing.

Abusive partner risk factors

I Spend Most Days In A Hyper Alert State, Barely Able To Speak Or Breathe In Case It Sets Him Off...

You’re deeply in love, and now shell shocked. You woke up one day realizing, that your days are now filled with navigating a minefield.

Sound familiar?

  • Your mental resources are exhausted from trying to figure out ways to stop the explosions.
  • Your physical resources are depleted from your body being constantly in fight or flight.
  • What worked yesterday no longer works today. As his rules are like an ever changing mirage.
  • You feel emotionally unstable from the continual trauma of not knowing what might set him off.

And who wouldn’t feel unstable?

Even front line military personnel don’t stay on the front line forever.

Now that his behaviour is alarming you, you’ve questioned:

How do I know if his abuse will become violent ?

Or if he is already violent:

How do I evaluate my level of risk?

Danger assessment - intimate partner homicide risk factors

Escalating Levels Of Control = An Increasing Level Of Risk

So now that we’ve covered the early warning signs for the likelihood of a relationship becoming violent, let’s look at the signs that indicate your life might be in danger.

Although the signs of control may have been subtle at first, escalating levels of control = an increased risk to your safety.

You might be increasingly feeling you are at risk, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why. Some women have described things as simple as the way he looked at them.

“Sometimes the hair would stand up on the back of my neck from the way that he looked at me…” “I just don’t know how to describe it…”

These type of gut instincts should never be minimised. As women are more likely to underestimate, rather than overestimate the level of danger they’re in.

The warning signs mentioned earlier might have dramatically escalated. For example, his unrealistic statements of “never ending love”, might now include threats about never leaving, or that he can’t live without you.

His constant checking might include removing your right to privacy. To the point of checking your phone, monitoring your calls, your emails, your search history & demanding passwords to your social networks. As well as asking you to account for your time, in terms of where you were and what you were doing.

His jealousy will likely have escalated to outrage towards anything that takes your attention away from him, or the relationship. Glancing at the opposite sex – or the opposite sex glancing at you can cause fits of rage. Friendships with the opposite sex might be completely banned. Or even friends – period. No matter what you do, you will be accused of cheating on him.

His possessiveness might have escalated to needing to know where you are at all times – or else. His level of entitlement makes it clear that he owns you, and that you're ‘his property’. If he can't have you, no one can.

His refusal to hear the word NO, might escalate to commanding complete obedience to every request, including sex. And any refusal to comply results in punishment, withdrawal of love, or violence.

Isolation from friends and family may have increased. And might have included moving to a location that isolates you from your support network.

Activities outside of the relationship or home (including work), might be restricted or completely banned.

These are just some of the warning signs that you’re in a dangerous relationship, whether it’s physically violent or not.

But the most important part to pay attention to, is your own intuition & internal warning system. You don’t need concrete evidence that you’re at risk. If you feel afraid, there’s a good reason you’re feeling this way.

Danger Assessment: Intimate Partner Homicide Risk Factors

As well as the escalating warning signs already mentioned, these are signs that showed in many cases of women who were killed, or almost killed, by a current or former intimate partner.

This information comes from the extensive research done by Dr Jacquelyn Campbell, who specialises in intimate partner danger assessment.

Relationship abuse & intimate partner homicide warning signs

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The degree to which he tracks & controls her activities, directly correlates with an increased level of risk. Despite the fact that there might not have been any physical violence in the relationship.

The UK now recognises coercive control as a serious crime, and more lives will be saved when other countries follow their example.

Not all of the warning signs mentioned will be present in every situation. But in a controlling or violent relationship where one of them is, a person’s life may be in danger. If this is you, or someone you know, please contact your National Domestic Violence Hotline for assistance with safety planning. You don’t need to face this alone.

If you have access to a computer from a safe place that he can’t monitor, here are two websites that can help determine the level of risk an abuse survivor has of being killed by her intimate partner:

The Mosaic Threat Assessment Method

The Danger Assessment Tool

Acknowledging that a person you care for might fatally harm you, is a lot to grasp, especially when they say that they love you.

Most people are unaware of warning signs for the likelihood of a partner becoming violent, or lethal. So this information has been put together to help women understand, that abusive relationships can be extremely dangerous.

With 1 in 3 women experiencing relationship violence at some stage during their lives, someone you know needs this information.

You can help others learn the early warning signs for relationship violence by liking & sharing this post on your social networks.

The more we spread awareness of the early warning signs, the more we can help women – before it’s too late.

Please let us know any warning signs you’ve experienced that can help others in the comments below.



  • Rebecca McConnell
    Posted at 14:17h, 14 December Reply

    The sign that let me know I was out of time, was that he crossed the line into not trying to hide it from the neighbours anymore. He was yelling abuse at three in the morning in the back yard. He no longer cared who knew/thought he was immune from legal ramifications.

    • Street Smart Women
      Posted at 18:27h, 03 January Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience Rebecca. I’m so glad you paid attention to the warning signs. When someone is no longer worried about legal ramifications, they become a dangerous ticking time bomb.

  • David
    Posted at 19:14h, 05 April Reply

    Would have been appropriate for the article to be written correctly in the first instance rather than it being totally derogatory towards males. The words he/male should have been replaced with perpatrator and her/woman changed to victim and other such like words in the article that are singling out the male as being the perpatrator, this when would offer some parity and it would show that “Smart Street Women” are not gender derogatory towards males, as clearly shown within this article.

    1 in 5 men experience relationship violence at some stage during their lives. 1 in 3 women experience the same. 20% of men and 33% of women, yet if the truth be really known and ALL incidents were reported, I dare say the percentages would be an awful lot closer. Just a shame that organisations wholly ignore the stats when it comes to men. This is further evidenced with the number of female refuges in the UK compared to male refuges, of which is most certainly in favour of the women to 95:1. So much for equality/parity eh.
    It is gender derogatory articles such as this that do not help the male victims of DV/DA at all.
    The Istanbul Convention is another derogatory article.

  • Jean Miller
    Posted at 07:13h, 17 July Reply

    Cry me a river David, 95%+ of violence is male perpetrated on women.

    • Duckie
      Posted at 13:19h, 26 February Reply

      Hear hear!

  • Jennie
    Posted at 04:30h, 19 August Reply

    You are 100% right, Jean Miller! This website is called “Street smart WOMEN” not men. We live in a patriarchy and not a matriarchy where men possess all of the power, property, and money. It’s as simple as that.

  • Nathalie Le Maire
    Posted at 17:27h, 21 November Reply

    i myself had to move out and leave my possessions behind. Right now, he knows i need to get my furniture out of there (1 bed, two chairs, and 1 desk). While it’s not much, it is mine and i’m going back with my father and a very trusted friend.

    I also have a cat that he’s ‘taking care of until i find a place’. Thing is, if i were to tell him right now that it’s over, he would use my cat to manipulate and control me as he did in the past. I had another cat and yes, i had left him that time too, when i least expected it, he took my cat and returned him to a high kill shelter. I was completely shattered.

    You might ask, ‘why the hell did you ever go back?!’ the answer is in the article above.

    A women will go through a phase about 6-7 times, and when it’s final, that’s it, and for me this time, it’s final. How do i know? Because my parents had a talk with me and my friends opened my eyes. He secluded me and isolated me completely. I was with him for almost 4 very long, and very abusive years. It took me a long time to reach the point where i’m at, but what i can tell you is that you do reach a point where you say ‘enough!’ and you will mean it, trust me on that one.

    He was and will always be insecure, a blamer, aggressive (holding me by my wrists so i can’t get out to leave), and you will be walking on eggshells every second of every day that you are with him. Trying to reason with a man like this is like trying to reason with insanity, it’s impossible, and sadly, the only solution is to run , and run as fast as you can!

    I am so happy you wrote this post, because i have so much to share so that others who read this, might see certain warning signs that are very similar to what i went through. He’s told me many times that if i’m not in his life, his life is ruined and he will never get over it.

    He used so much guilt on me, that, as i write this, i can’t believe i’m still standing. Yet, here i am. I will most likely post again here to let you all know once i have all my belongings and that i’ve cut the cord permanently, because when that happens, i know i will finally be free of his psychotic and dangerous behavior.

    One last thing i have to mention as a warning sign; if he makes aggressive comments to other drivers while driving and you’re in the car, especially to other men, that’s another huge warning sign that he’s insecure. If you have any thoughts you would like to share, i’d love to hear them. Together, we are stronger! xxx

    • a non
      Posted at 09:59h, 27 July Reply

      Natalie, not sure what year in November you posted about your struggle, but I hope and trust things are well.

  • Kim
    Posted at 19:38h, 06 December Reply

    I’ve never written about this before, but I believe my story might help women detect a violent, abusive man before getting sucked into a relationship with him. I was with this man for 3-1/2 years from the age of 17 to 21. It was not physically abusive until we moved in together – that’s when he started shoving me, hitting me, and eventually choking me. Here are the early signs from the first year that I wish I had known about –

  • 1. He told me stories about fights that he had been in with other men, and how he almost killed a man once, etc.
  • 2. He told me that his friends didn’t like me because I was too “smart” acting so I should change to be more pleasing socially.
  • 3. He was big into guns, and had access to several guns at his father’s house.
  • 4. His father was physically abusive to his mother, and he witnessed it. (not all men who have seen such abuse become abusers, but it can be a red flag, especially with some of these other traits.
  • 5. He told me that I always ruin holidays and special events, basically exploiting my already low self esteem.
  • 6. He convinced me that I had an anger problem and was violent. Once he “restrained” me when I was angry (I do have a temper), and told me that it was necessary because I was “out of control.” I remember thinking that it seemed a bit harsh, physically, but perhaps he was right. I always did have a temper, but had no history of violence. This “anger problem” would later become his excuse for “restraining me” and beating me.
  • 7. He had bad road rage sometimes, and would actually get out of his car and approach drivers that he was angry at.
  • 8. He wasn’t jealous of my having friends per se, but he was very jealous of any academic success I managed to earn. At first it was just little biting remarks about how I was “smarter” than him, but it later became an excuse for beating me.
  • 9. He was always questioning my perceptions, and saying that my interpretation of situations and events were wrong. I got to the point where I couldn’t trust my own intuition or mind. Later he would convince me that I was the cause of the physical violence, and he was going to call the cops on ME and I would go to jail for domestic violence.
  • 10. He was never consistently employed.
  • 11. Make-up sex after a fight was a favorite thing with him. Later, when he was physically abusing me, I wondered if these sessions were more like rapes than completely consensual.
  • 12. He isolated me from all of my friends and family by telling me that they were bad people – some of them were bad people so I believed him.
  • My childhood background that led to my normalizing of his behavior. My background made this abuse all the more “comfortable” to me in a sense because it was familiar.

    1. I was emotionally abused by my mother, and thrown out of the house at 16. I had a very low self-esteem as a result.
    2. My father would disappear for long periods of time leading to my later extreme fears of rejection.
    3. I was young and naive.
    4. I lacked family support.

    If you see these kinds of signs, I’d say to really pay attention and not try to ignore them. If you were abused or neglected as a child, please get help with that as soon as possible. You can heal – At the age of 45, I’m just starting to heal from my childhood abuse – I wish I knew then that there was help – there were therapists who specialized in abuse. Just because your parents didn’t physically beat you, doesn’t mean you weren’t subjected to abuse. Emotional abuse is real and damaging, and makes it easier to slip into these twisted relationships with abusers.

    I am so lucky that I didn’t die at his hands – he choked me and even tried to hang me with his bare hands. It wasn’t until I saw him abuse our new puppy that I realized it wasn’t my fault. Please get out ASAP, but safely.

    I had to be very manipulative and sneaky to get him out of the apartment. Luckily, he was broke and I convinced him to go back to his parents’ house. I am also lucky that my father came through for me, and lived with me for awhile after the breakup. Also, I’m thankful that there was no social media back then. How much harder that must be for abused women now!

    Sorry I went on so long, but this is the first time I have ever shared my story online – only my husband knows about it. Please get help – there are more resources now than when I went through it.

  • Whitney
    Posted at 06:47h, 28 August Reply

    You story hits home with me. Also, I come from a very similar background. It seems we tend to be more vulnerable to this.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:19h, 23 June Reply

    I’m scared. I’ve been depressed (for reasons mostly unrelated to my relationship) for a few weeks and told my husband that sometimes I have suicidal thoughts. He said, he’s thought about killing both of us, both himself and me. Certainly not the response I was expecting when opening up to my partner about my depression.

    I don’t know if I’m being overly paranoid or if he is actually capable of doing something like that. Our fights have gotten physical before. He has choked me before because he claims he was protecting himself and trying to restrain me. He’s punched walls and thrown things. But killing is another level. He is not possessive or overly jealous though so I’m not sure what he is capable of but I am scared.

    He is overly nice and charming to my friends and family so I’m scared to open up to them because I fear that they won’t believe he is capable of doing or saying these things. He doesn’t keep me from my friends or family but not feeling like I can confide in the people closest to me makes me feel isolated.

    I’m scared and don’t know what to do

  • ss
    Posted at 17:19h, 30 October Reply

    I was in an abusive relationship and thankfully got out! I was younger and was unaware. It starts so subtle that the first “abuse moment” just took me off guard. I remember not being able to speak. It was a brief event, but intense. And before I could process it, he flip back to “normal”. And I was left feeling like, “did that just happen?” And I let it go, because suddenly everything was good again. All within 2 minutes. And I didn’t want to go back to that moment where he was angry. So I let it go.
    And thats how it starts.
    Surprise and the installation of fear. And training you to submit.

    But I got out!!

    I remember the day I just realized I was not ‘me’ anymore, so I just left.
    I moved. I stayed off social media. I did not contact friends. I just left. I got an apartment, slept on a mattress on the floor, and got a job. I had very little but had sooo much!
    That was over 10 years ago!
    Now I have money, nice things, and happiness! Im single. By choice. I have friends. I leave the past in the past.
    I work on healing and have healed so much.
    Im not looking for a relationship ‘in the future’.
    Men ask but my goal is actually to get a man. My goal is to love and trust myself everyday. And I do.

    Do not dismiss any “moment” where you actually fear him. In a balanced relationship, there is conflict but no fear.
    I say, just leave!
    Life is too short to be afraid.
    The grass IS actually green on the other side of an abusive relationship.

  • Nucole Magincalda
    Posted at 03:38h, 12 November Reply

    1. He tells you that you you are fat and useless.

    2. He manipulates you.

    3. He says things to upset you when he doesn’t he his way.

    4. He has done violent things that are inexcusable. Never considering your safety and then apologizes.

    5. He verbally threatens you or physically threatens you.

    6. He makes all your friends and family members the enemy and keeps you isolated.

    7. He is starting to make you doubt yourself.

    8. He gets mad if you don’t clean the house or do the dishes, the way he tells you, exactly.

    9. He gives you two and three hour lectures about life and why your not good enough. How you can change improve to better suit his life with you.

    10. He doesn’t let you out of his sight.

    11. When you go shopping he waits outside the bathroom for you and won’t moce till you come put.

    12. He sucks you dry physically, mentally, emotionally.

    13. He makes you think their is something wrong with you.

    14. He refuses to take no for an answer.

    15. He insists everything be his way regardless how you feel. If you try to request something a certain way, against what he wants, he makes you feel bad or insults you or tells you bad things, that effect your self esteem.

    16. He demoralizees you.

  • C Robe
    Posted at 21:41h, 10 January Reply

    I thought I knew all this. Surviving not one but 2 abusive relationships.
    I left my husband for a man who I found “dreamy, sweet, confident”
    When I’m reality, he is manipulative, cold and aggressive.
    I told every person to hit the road if they disagreed with my actions.
    I excused all the times someone told me the man I was moving in with was a “woman beater”
    He had excuses for every action, he had shifted all the blame, victimized himself enough to where I actually believed and excused his behavior.
    I ignored every red flag.

    He love bombed me so much, i knew it was a red flag. Something in my gut told me to be cautious.
    I’m ashamed that I let him use me in this way. When we met he had just gotten out of jail, living with a friend. I had 10k saved because I was ready to leave my husband.
    He uses my vulnerability as weakness.
    He took advantage of my kind heart.

    After 7 months is living together, that is when the first instance occurred.
    When his mask fell off.
    The first argument, his first exert of control.
    This was after he got a good job, a vehicle I helped him get. Now he has 3 vehicles, and talked me into trading my new vehicle for an old piece of crap.
    I allowed him to stay, why?
    I can’t tell you why.

    He made sure I was comfortable before doing anything again, the first few arguments he would leave go to a hotel…
    I found out he goes to work spreading blatant lies about me, like I’m a thief, a whore, a user.
    When he uses his part of the rent money to manipulate and control over me.
    He uses holidays , my birthday and my son’s birthday as days to really let me have it.
    Even Christmas. Buying my son’s Christmas although I told him not to, just to exert control.
    This was all planned.

    He is a narcissist.
    I’m not using this term lightly, I specialize in behavioural psychology and still let a man manipulate me.
    It can happen to anyone.

    I sit here typing this barely able to breathe from a punch in the throat that happened nearly 2 hours ago.
    When he thought I was calling the law, he crushed a Tylenol up hits record and claims its drugs.. I lose it, now he’s got one video to my 100, then tries to leave for work.
    After he realized I wasn’t calling the law,
    He apologized for me “tripping over nothing into his hand”
    Because he was trying to “catch me”
    Another attempt to discredit the truth.
    He is sickening.

    Now it’s a year and a half relationship;
    He has everyone thinking he was mistreated in life, and he has never done anything wrong. Just like the way he did me.
    Ladies, if you feel anything in your gut, leave.
    Don’t ever let a man threaten you, because if he will threaten you, eventually he will do it.
    I do have a mouth on me. I will admit that this morning I did initiate the argument, I was upset, sleep deprived and after he threatened to back hand me I did scream.
    (Because I’ve been there before, I’ll never let a man punk me or threaten me)
    But never ever does that give a man the right to lay his hands on you. Ever.

    He is a trained MMA fighter, who begs to fight anyone and everyone.

    Watch for aggressive behaviours, watch how he treats others and love bombs you. Never allow another human to disrespect you. Never discredit another person’s abuse. Listen, be aware of your surroundings and what others tell you about the person you are seeing.

    I put mine and my son’s life in danger by being vulnerable and naive.
    You are worth more than you will ever know. And someone needs you to be alive and well.
    Hang tight and know you are smart, you are beautiful and you are important.
    Don’t give up the strong fight, we can do this together.

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