Warning Signs Someone is in an Abusive Relationship

In general people seem to have the misconception that people in domestically violent relationships are poor, un or under-educated, unemployed, addicted, homeless…the list goes on and on. The fact is that family abuse happens to 1 in 4 women at equal rates, regardless of race, color, religion, socio-economic status, education level, employment status, age – by any way you can think of to separate us, in one thing we are all universally the same. We are all equally at risk to be abused in our relationship. So though you may look past someone close to you, someone you work with, a neighbor, take a second look, ask questions, get involved.

Extreme Jealousy on the Part of the Abusive Partner
This is one of the very early warning sign that a relationship may be abusive. These behaviors include constant calling of the victim, fighting with other males in social settings, glaring at the victim when she is speaking with someone other than the abuser, dominating all their time, when they are out, constantly asking who they are with and when they’ll be home. This often couples with accusations of cheating.

This is another early indicator. The abuser is going to get to work quickly at eliminating any sources of assistance or confidence that you have. This includes friendships, relationships with family members, social activities, clubs, etc. An abusive partner with demand that all these be given up, one by one, until the victim/survivor has no one to confide in, no one to see the injuries and no one to help them out. If you suddenly start noticing someone you care about seeing you less and less, being defensive about why or just ditching you altogether – start asking questions!

Sudden Changes in Personality or Appearance
Has someone you know just completely changed since they entered a relationship. Changed their hair, makeup, style of dress, interests, activities or anything else that had once been a part of who they were. Do they suddenly seem withdrawn, avoiding eye contact or overly excited or happy – any sudden onset of changes, even if they start out subtly, could be an indicator that they are being controlled by the person they are in a relationship with.

Injuries and Excuses
Sometimes, bruises and injuries may occur frequently and be in obvious places. When this happens, the intent of the abuser is to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home, for fear of someone seeing them that way. When black eyes and other obvious bruising or injury is a result of an attack by the abuser, the victim/survivor may be forced to call in sick to work, or face the embarrassment and excuses of how the injuries occurred. Repeated wounds may be passed off as, “I’m just really clumsy” incidents or the like. Many times, though, bruises and other outward injuries never occur. Abusers often become rapidly adept at knowing how and where to strike so that marks will not be obvious.

Absences from Work or School
Absences could crop up, mainly, from one of two sources. One, either the abuser is playing with their control over their victim by demanding they stay home, creating circumstances that make it impossible to go (such as immobilizing the vehicle, sabotaging daycare, etc.) or, two, the injuries the victim/survivor has incurred as the result of an attack by their abuser have left them injured and unable to work. Any patterns like these should be looked into.

Accusations of Having Affairs
Abusers who do not use this tactic are few and far between. This is one of the things we hear most often! It is meant as a way to do one or all of the following: shame the victim/survivor, cover for their own infidelities and/or to set in motion an excuse to attack the victim/abuser mentally, emotionally and perhaps, physically. It could include accusations of dressing up/looking good for other men to look at them, looking at other men, wanting to be with other men, or having affairs with the man bagging groceries at the local supermarket or the sandwich maker at the sub shop or even members of their church!

Fear of Conflict
Some may generalize and relate the experience of powerlessness to other relationships. Conflicts with co-workers, friends, relatives, and neighbors will be something, largely, they opt to avoid. For many, it becomes easier to give in to whatever someone else wants than to challenge it and face the risk of repercussion or punishment.

Many take all of the blame for any and everything that goes wrong – in the relationship, with the kids, with the home - anything. It’s the “Yeah, but I caused it because…” symptom that is caused by constantly being berated and blamed for anything that happens or goes wrong (whether real or imagined). A co-worker may share a story about something that happened at home and then take all of the blame for whatever occurred. If you notice this happening, it’s time to take Appropriate Intervention.

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