Abuse isn’t always physical in intimate relationships, and it’s not always evident even to the person who’s suffering mistreatment. Many people can be in abusive or coercive relationships for years without realizing it. The range of red flags that send up warnings can be subtle as well as blatant. There are, however, some signals that you can spot even early in the relationship.
Taking control of every aspect of your life shows your partner doesn’t respect your ability to handle anything. Does he restrict access to your money or credit cards or attempt to dictate how you spend your money? Does he try to prevent you from finding or keeping a job? Controlling behavior can be physical as well as financial, mental as well as emotional. Does she tell you where you can and can’t go? Does she monitor the GPS on your phone?
Aggressive behavior isn’t limited to physical touch or action. Your partner may throw or destroy things, punch walls or smash property to demonstrate power over you. Aggressive behaviors may include looks, gestures or words. Be on the lookout for forceful sex. Forcing or manipulating you to have sex when you don’t want is not normal.
Frequent jealous behavior sends the message one partner is not trusting the other. Abnormal possessiveness includes isolating you from people you love who could possibly talk you out of staying with your partner.
Boundaries are natural and necessary. When your partner tramples on your comfort zone, they undermine your self-worth. Disregarding your boundary signals that your needs and preferences are less important than theirs.
Hiding important information from your partner or lying damages your feelings of safety and security in the relationship. If you value transparency and your partner doesn’t, you need a serious discussion.
When you are in pain, you want to know that your feelings and thoughts are important to your partner. If your partner ignores your requests or gives you the silent treatment when you are in need, they are demonstrating that you don’t matter enough to them. The silent treatment is a popular form of manipulation in abusive relationships.
Angry blow ups
Aggressive explosions and unpredictable mood swings are not normal, and they could be an early warning sign of abuse. There’s cause for concern if your partner withdraws and blames you for their sadness or anger. Name-calling and abusive language during these rages should be an even bigger red flag.
Never saying sorry
If your partner always thinks he or she is right regardless of the facts and never apologizes after an argument, their behavior is borderline abusive, experts say. Don’t expect them to change as they refuse to grow.
Constant worrying can be a sign of early abuse disguised as concern for your health and safety. You begin to try to accommodate their need to keep tabs on you and slowly feel your sense of freedom and power over your own choices diminish.
Gaslighting is a particularly heinous tactic. This major form of emotional abuse is used when one person lies and denies a truth to another person by making them doubt their perceptions or memory. Such misdirection is intended to make someone question reality or their own sanity.