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Predictors of Domestic Violence - How to Avoid Physical Abuse in a Relationship

Updated on March 3, 2019

An Ounce of Prevention

If you, like me, have been hit by your boyfriend, fiancee, or husband and have broken up with the abuser, you may be hesitant to date again. Some of us seem to attract abusive types. That can be helped by developing positive self-esteem and an assertive demeanor, both of which are beyond the scope of this article, but I'll give references that helped me at the end of this hub. What you can do immediately is to protect yourself from getting into another abusive relationship. There are lots of decent, loving, good guys out there. You need to be available for positive relationships by staying out of the bad ones.

The most important rule is not to commit (engagement or living together) to anyone unless you've been seeing them regularly for at least six months. In this time, keep a lookout for the warning signs that follow. (Guys, the characteristics in this article will predict an abusive woman, too. Just change the pronouns.) This checklist comes from a local woman's shelter and counseling service.

If you notice any of the last four signs, run, don't walk, away from the relationship. The person is likely a batterer. For the other signs, three or more shows signs of danger, or even two if the traits are very exaggerated like extreme jealousy over ridiculous things. For example, you come home from work 5 minutes late and he's sure you were kissing your ex-boyfriend in an alley for those 5 minutes no matter how reasonable your explanation is.

1. JEALOUSY: Early on, an abuser will explain his jealousy as a sign of love. Jealousy has nothing to do with love; it's a sign of insecurity and possessiveness. He will question the woman about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of time she spends with family, friends, or children. He may call her frequently during the day or drop by unexpectedly. He may refuse to let her work for fear she'll meet someone else. He may check her car mileage or ask friends to watch her.

2. CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR: At first an abuser will express concern over the woman's safety. He may want to know every detail about her day. As this behavior worsens, he may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing, or going to church. He may keep all the money. He may require she ask permission before leaving the house.

3. QUICK INVOLVEMENT: He may claim love at first sight and flatter the woman with such words as, "You're the only one I can talk to." or "I've never been loved like this before." He has unmet emotional needs, and will pressure the woman to commit to him before the reasonable six months of getting-to-know-each-other time.

4. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: He will expect the woman to meet all his needs perfectly, saying, "I'm all you need -- you're all I need." She must be the perfect wife, lover, mother, and friend.

5. ISOLATION: The man tries to cut the woman off from all resources. If she has men friends, she is a "whore." If she has women friends, she is a "lesbian." Family she is close to are "trouble-makers." He may want to live in the country without a phone. He may not let her use the car, work, or go to school.

6. BLAMES OTHERS FOR HIS PROBLEMS: If he doesn't have a job, it's because someone is out to get him. If he makes a mistake, it's because the woman distracted him. Eventually, everything will be her fault.

7. BLAMES OTHERS FOR HIS FEELINGS: He will say, "I can't help being angry when you don't do what I say." Though he's actually responsible for his own feelings, he'll try to use them to manipulate the woman.

8. HYPERSENSITIVITY: He is easily insulted. He may rant and rave about perceived injustices. He may see being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, or being asked to help with chores as an affront.

9. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS OR CHILDREN: He is insensitive to the pain of animals or children. He expects children to behave as if they were much older, perhaps beating a sixteen-month-old for wetting a diaper. He may expect children to stay in their room all evening while he is home.

10. "PLAYFUL" USE OF FORCE IN SEX: He may want to act out sexual fantasies where the woman is helpless, throwing or holding her down. He may show little concern over whether the woman wants to have sex and use sulking or anger to manipulate her into compliance. He may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping, or demand sex when she is ill or tired.

11. VERBAL ABUSE: He may degrade the woman, cursing her, running down her accomplishments. He will tell her she is stupid and unable to function without him. He may interrupt her sleep to say cruel and hurtful things.

12. RIGID SEX ROLES: He will expect the woman to obey him in all things, perhaps even things that are criminal. He will see the woman as inferior to men, unable to be a whole person without a man.

What should have clued me in about my abuser was that he was too good to be true at first.

And remember: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If he hit you once, he'll hit you again.

The book that helped me build my self-esteem is "The Self-Esteem Companion" by McKay, Fanning, et al. Another helpful book is "The Self-Esteem Workbook" by Schiraldi.

If you are currently in a relationship where you are hit, please call the national domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.


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    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US

      thanks, multiman

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Informative article sad to understand these kind of relationships exist. Voted up.

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US

      i broke up with him and went back many times. finally, a friend gave me the book, "women who love too much", which encouraged me to find the support group that gave me what i needed to stay away. i'm alive today because of that book. i'm also in a wonderful relationship.

      wishing you and your family the best.

      thanks for reading.

    • primpo profile image


      10 years ago from Howell, New Jersey

      Very nice descriptions and research. I did alot of research after I got out of my "situation" but never wrote about it. Most of the things were right on.. thank god I had a wonderful support of friends and family to keep me a way because as dumb as I was, I would of went back. It is now a lesson I try to teach to my girls. One was teachable, the other became the abuser... she is a lost cause that I can only pray for, I think personality has something to do with it. But I'm glad like me, you are out of it.. nice hub.

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US

      what's dean's hubpages screenname? i'll read some of his hubs, if that's okay with you.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good to hear you got it handled. My experience (listed above) also went down in the 80's, curiously enough, though earlier in the decade (late 1980 through early 1984). Once I got work (after nearly starving for most of a year in Portland, Oregon), I did pay child support for the remaining son of hers that I'd adopted (along with his older brother) when he was 14.

      The older brother dropped dead (cause unknown) at age 37, but Dean and I stay in touch to this day. He's even on HubPages!

      You were definitely blessed when you found a good psychiatrist. Pam had one absolutely awesome psychologist (in adddition to me), and the journey is STILL out on the psychiatrist issue.

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US


      i, too, have personal experience with domestic violence, by my fiance of 3 yrs. it's distant (80's), but some things definitely leave an impression.

      i, too, am married to my best friend for life. as advised in the article, i waited the six months of dating before i said yes to his proposal. he's one of the least jealous, most supportive guys on earth.

      it was kind of you to leave a note to your ex. it's more than she deserved. thank goodness you got out alive. i credit a supportive friend, a good psychiatrist, and Al-Anon for giving me the oomph to leave and save my life.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great page. My wife and I are definitely "hooked at the hip" for life, and that's a good thing--but she waited nine and a half years before we mutually decided to get married "on paper".

      My six previous divorces could have had somethng to do with that...or the fact that when we met, she was 45 years of age and had never met a man (from father forward) who treated her right...etc.

      I did come up on the short end of the abuse stick in my third (and categorically most challenging) marriage. She was tiny, full of rage from stem to stern (a friend who can see auras once told me this lady had the most violent aura she'd ever seen, and my friend has seen a lot of auras). Jealous to the max, five minutes late from work and sure enough I'd "been with" half the county, doncha know.

      I never had ANY doubt that she'd been seriously molested/abused/used/etc. in her youth--the signs were all there. But silly, eager me, figured that out AFTER the wedding...:)

      In the end (after 3 years), I left a note on the kitchen table and ran like a rabbit--one without novocain in its feet, thankfully.

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US

      to ahostage situatuion and magnoliazz - thanks for the thoughful comments.

    • magnoliazz profile image


      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      I think you should include drug and alcohol abuse as a warning sign. Some people are great and well adjusted, until they get drunk or high, then it is a different story.

      I think you should also take a look at past relationships. Is he/she in and out of relationships every few years? Do past lovers stay friendly? If past lovers stay away with no desire to get together again, you can bet there is some kind of abuse going on. I have a hunky neighbor that I have known for over 10 years now. His girlfriends come and go. When I asked my brother what was going on with the hunky neighbor, he told me he beats the living crap out of his girlfriends! One time, he even brained one girl on the edge of a door! He could have killed her!

      Talking to this guy you would never in a million years guess he was an abuser, I almost got into a relationship with him myself. He loves animals, he has a great business, but look out when he starts to drink! A sixth sense told me something just was not right, and now I feel like I dodged a major bullet.

      I think this abuse thing starts in the home. In some way the abuser was also abused as a child and they think this behavior is "normal". Child abuse is often the beginning of many anti social behaviors as well as addictions of all kinds.

    • ahostagesituation profile image


      10 years ago

      Cathylynn, great hub! I think it's so cool you wrote this! Great writing, and great list. I dated one short fused guy and will not repeat that move. He never put his hands on me, or else I'd be writing this from jail, but I see a lot of domestic violence. Did you see a lot when you were practicing medicine? I'm seeing more DV in same sex couples, and it used to be I didn't see so much in the gay community. To your list I would add low self esteem of the perpetrator, for men their views on women in general can be an indicator, and anytime you see a marked difference in their public and private behavior--not a good sign. Sorry you had to go through an abusive relationship, that's a hard road to recover from.

    • cathylynn99 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from northeastern US

      WTS, thanks so much for reading. i published this over the holiday weekend so almost no one has seen it.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      10 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I've never understood why someone would date someone that hits them. Oh, it goes both ways. I've had a shiner from some bitch that hit me. . . .out of the blue. I've no clue what set her off, and she had to find some kind of transportation long miles to her home that night.

      I don't much understand hitting a woman either. . . .if I like someone, I do not hit them; I don't know how things get so confused with other people.


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