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Early Warning Signs for Domestic Violence

Signs may include, but are not limited to:

If every partner who engaged in domestic violence showed obvious signs of being abusive from the start, most troubled relationships would end quickly. Unfortunately, many of the red flags of an abusive relationship are subtle and easily missed. Domestic violence can involve physical, sexual and emotional abuse, financial and spiritual abuse as well as threats. Early warning signs are usually minor forms of self-centered, controlling and jealous behavior that escalate as time goes on.

Relationships impact on us a lot. It’s really important if you’re beginning to feel unsafe that you look at what’s causing it.

How do you know if you’re feeling unsafe?

Here are some early warning signs:

  • You’re becoming a lot more critical of yourself — thinking you are stupid or fat or very lucky to have a partner.
  • You give up on your own opinions and think your partner is right about everything.
  • You’re feeling more stressed or worried all the time; you feel nauseous or have bad butterflies. Sometimes stress can also stop us eating and sleeping properly, or cause us to have headaches.
  • You have that ‘dreaded’ feeling more often.
  • You’re scared of how your partner will react to a situation.
  • You avoid saying something because you don’t want to upset your partner.
  • You feel scared when your partner is angry because you can’t predict their behaviour.
  • You’re feeling a pressure to change who you are or move the relationship further than you want to.
  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
  • You’re staying in more and seeing less of family and friends to avoid arguments with your partner.

How Your Partner Treats You

Pay attention to how a partner treats you early in the relationship. A potential abuser may make decisions for you such as ordering your meal at a restaurant or planning social activities without consulting you. They might try to rush the relationship -- such as asking to move in together before you have really gotten to know one another -- and they may pressure you to do things that make you uncomfortable, using words such as, "Everyone else is doing it" or "If you really cared about me you would." A partner who shows early signs of jealousy may also be at risk for domestic violence, particularly if their behavior seems like an overreaction to the situation -- becoming agitated, for example, when you talk to another man or accept a compliment.

How Your Partner Treats Others

Watch to see how your partner treats others and you may have a preview of how you will be treated later in the relationship. If they are quick to blame others or becomes upset over trivial mistakes, these can be early signs of domestic violence later on. For example, you might witness road rage or an overblown reaction to a meal not prepared as requested in a restaurant. A partner who treats animals and children badly may also be more likely to become abusive later on in your relationship.

How Your Partner Feels About Themselves

A partner who needs to put other people down in order to build their self up -- also known as hierarchical self-esteem -- may be more likely to become abusive.  A potentially abusive partner may be resentful of others and feel a sense of entitlement. They may feel that the world is unfair and that they deserve special treatment. For example, they may steal something from the workplace as payback for a perceived injustice or because they feel they deserve it. A potential abuser may also be overly sensitive to criticism.

How Your Partner Makes You Feel

Think about how you feel in the relationship. A potentially abusive partner may lead you to believe that they just need a "good" partner who will treat them right -- making you feel that they need to be rescued. You might also feel indebted to they because of favors that they have done for you -- favors that you didn't ask for. Think about whether they listen when you talk or seem more interested in turning the conversation back toward themselves. If it feels like there is an imbalance of power, you may be with a partner who will become abusive.  As a way to maintain power in a relationship, abusers often seek partners who come from situations that have left them feeling vulnerable.

IF You or Someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, please call VSRC for support and information or check our resource listing for additional resources and support services.


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