08 Jul 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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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:
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.