Early Signs A Partner Is Physically, Emotionally, Or Psychologically Abusive

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Portrait of young afro couple hugging in a public park. Rear view of the man. Woman looking at camera over the her boyfriend's shoulder.

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One of the most frightening things about domestic violence — whether it be physical, psychological, or emotional abuse — is that the early signs are generally subtle. In many instances, they may manifest as characteristics that lead women to believe that their partner is loving and passionate. Worse, when the more blatant signs of abuse manifest, the victims are often in too deep, which is why it’s important to recognize the early signs. Here are a few of them:

Emotional intensity

A whirlwind romance can be a beautiful thing, but you can tell when someone is coming on too strongly. It is usually extremely early in the relationship and the intense emotions may seem completely unfounded. They may say things such as “I love you” after only a few days together or insist that you understand them more than anyone else in the world when in reality, you’ve only been on one date. It may seem flattering, but love typically doesn’t work like that.

He used to hold me like that

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Any form of control in a relationship is generally indicative of some form of abuse. It may start off subtle such as a partner who is a little too vocal about your hair, makeup, or wardrobe choices. From there, it can escalate to where you go, with whom you choose to go, and how long you choose to stay. It may feel as though a partner is only behaving this way because they have intense feelings for you, but it’s often an early sign of an emotional or physical abuser.

Woman looking upset after an argument with her husband

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Abusive behavior thrives in secret. While a new romance can be blinding, the people who know and love you will usually be able to tell when something isn’t right. As a result, abusers tend to isolate their victims from the people who care about them because they’re typically the ones who peep game early. Our tribe is who keeps us grounded and when they’re removed from the equation, it’s easier for abuse to take place.

Trust matters so much in a relationship

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Keeping tabs

People who are in relationships share their whereabouts as a courtesy, but when someone begins demanding to know your whereabouts every hour on the hour, this behavior should be noted and taken seriously. Further, making a habit of checking call logs, text messages, and social media is also red flag behavior.

Young couple talking

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It is not uncommon for people in new relationships to want to spend a lot of time together, but even new love should have limits. When a new partner only wants to spend time with you to the point where they get upset, criticize you, or have strong emotional reactions when you want to spend time with others, it’s a problem.

Couple Talking While Standing Outdoors

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Adult tantrums

Adult tantrums are one of the many ways that physical and emotional abusers keep their victims in check. By way of these fits, abusers teach their victims to comply with their demands. Anytime an adult flies into a fit of rage in order to get their way, it’s important to take heed of this serious red flag.

Sorry won't fix it this time

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Emotional manipulation

While adult tantrums are a form of emotional manipulation, they’re not the only form. Though not often discussed, abusers will often weaponize tears and sullen mood swings against their victims as well. This can manifest as a partner sulking for extended periods of time after being told “no” or crying in reaction to ill-fitting circumstances.

Stop blaming everything on me!

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“I just love you so much” is never a suitable excuse for a partner who has a violent or aggressive reaction to something. It’s also an inappropriate reason for a person to habitually discouraging you from being out and about or interacting with others. It is never okay for anyone to treat you as though you are their property.

I can't believe he just said that

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Sexual pressure

Any time someone pressures you to engage in a sexual act with which you are not comfortable, it should be noted. Sex should always take place between two equally willing parties — not one eager person and one who is reluctant. Anytime a person — man, woman, or otherwise — is okay with having sex in a way that makes you uncomfortable, it’s a serious red flag.

I'm not going to apologise first

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Double standards

Abusers are good for establishing rules and guidelines for their victims that they have no intention of following themselves. This may look like a man who shames women who enjoy going out and partying with their friends while he continuously engages in the same behavior. It’s not that there is anything wrong with these behaviors, he just doesn’t want you to partake.

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