If there is one common thread that unites us as human beings, it is our desire to find that special someone to share our life with, who understands us, who enjoys being with us and appreciates us.
In the early phases of a new relationship we love the intense feeling of being the centre of someone’s attention and affection, the romantic gestures, and wanting to spend so much time together. This is the normal progression of the ‘honeymoon’ phase. We want to believe that we can trust this person and that she or he has the best of intentions at heart for us.
However, as the relationship progresses, it is important to emerge from that ‘cocoon’ and return to seeing friends and family, whilst incorporating that special new relationship into regular life.
Potential Red Flags
Violent and abusive relationships do not start out this way; there is an incremental escalation in manipulative behaviours that may indicate future abuse and/or violence.
What if you start to notice that your special someone becomes moody or jealous when you make plans to see other people? What if he or she is quick to anger if you disagree with him or her? Would you call them out on their behaviour? Or would you make excuses and down-play it because you are emotionally invested in this person and you really want to make it work?
The signs of potential future abuse are usually there, however, it is easy to mistake behavioural red flags for romantic expressions or attentive concern. It can be difficult to believe that the very person who claims to love you, could be responsible for harming you, especially when they are mostly showing a loving and caring side.
Abusive incidents appear sporadic at first, and an apology usually swiftly follows, along with a promise that ‘it will never happen again’. The following red flags are concerning signs that you, or someone you know, might be headed into a relationship with someone who could become abusive and violent:
- Love-bombing – the attention on you is very intense, such as wanting to see you constantly and showering you with gifts. Also your new love-interest wants to get serious very quickly. Their behaviour may also seem ‘needy’.
- Moody – he or she becomes sulky if they don’t get their own way
- Blame – he or she blames other people or you for anything that is not going their way. There may be emotional manipulation to get you to acquiesce to do what he or she wants you to do
- Jealous/Guilt trip – they seem jealous, or make you feel guilty if you make plans to see friends or family. Appearing jealous if they see you talking to the opposite sex. This is one tactic of isolating you gradually so that eventually you become totally dependent on them
- Suspicion – asking questions about where you have been, calling you frequently whilst you are out, checking your phone, mail, purse, or handbag
- Anger – any sudden mood changes from being nice to explosive anger
- Threatening or cruelty – any behaviour that makes you feel fearful, such as language, verbal demeaning put-downs, tone of voice, intimidating, physically hurting you, breaking objects, history of harming animals or people. They will often create believable excuses for their behaviour
- Sex – pressure to have sex, or forcing sex on you even when you are saying ‘no’ or when you are asleep, restraining you or forcing you to perform sex acts against your will
- Drug/Alcohol use – any sign that your new partner uses drugs or drinks to excess, or attempts to force you to use substances
- Ignoring your gut instinct (your early warning device) – ignoring the uncomfortable or uneasy feeling you have about this person, you feel like you need to reason your partner’s behaviour to yourself and others, and make excuses for them
These 10 signs are all about fear, power and control. None of the above is a sign of love, respect or caring, no matter how this person tries to explain it. In fact, as the relationship continues, the cycle of abuse will become more frequent and intense because the power balance shifts further to the abuser.
The more control the abuser has, the more power they feel they have to make you feel more worthless, weak and crazy, until it feels impossible to find a way to leave.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore the signs. If you have any issues or concerns regarding abusive relationships, it is critical to reach out for support from a trusted friend or counsellor. Click on the link below to make contact and book your free 20 minute consultation.