Warning signs of an abusive personality
Finding yourself in an abusive relationship can happen to anybody, despite race, gender, size or even strength, and most often the level of abuse can build so slowly that it’s not always recognised as the dangerous behaviour that it is until it’s too late.
So learning what the warning signs of an abusive personality are may help us keep ourselves, family and friends safe.
12 Warning signs of an abusive partner
1. History of past battering
Be it their parent when they were a child or they themselves were the abuser in past relationships, this can be of significant importance in helping to decide if your partner may be a risk to you.
As children from abusive homes are 30% more likely to become abusers themselves, and those who can admit to hitting others often blame their victim and only with trained help and real effort can these lifestyles be turned around.
2. Breaking objects
Lashing out at mundane objects may at first seem like the lesser of two evils, it is in fact a clear sign of a lack of control that could easily escalate to violence on those closest to the person,
It can also be seen as scare tactic, an unspoken implied threat against you, meant to keep you on edge of what they may be capable of.
3. Threats of Violence
This one clearly stands on its own merit, and should never be underestimated when used against you.
An abusive personality will often use the threat of violence to get their own way, “So help me if you don’t…” Other threats can include blackmail to get what they want. “I’ll tell unless you do…” All used to try to control you, sabotaging your self-esteem along the way. Making it easier for when the threats turn to actions.
4. Controlling behaviour
A well-known sign of an abusive partner is there need to control aspects of the others life, this can start out ‘small’ growing over time, helping to create an atmosphere of total isolation that you may not even realise until it is too late.
Signs of control can be insisting that all your spare time is spent with them (sometimes even encouraging you to quit your job) doing what they want, an abusive personality will make an effort to control the money and how shared items are used, they can go through your email and phone messages in an effort to keep tabs and will call many times in one day just to check in and see where you are up to etc…
5. Unreasonable jealousy
Showing signs of jealousy is not always a sign of an abusive partner but unreasonable jealously is. Being jealous of time spent with friends and family is just one example of unreasonable jealously, an abusive personality will see you as their property and will grow angry if they perceive you flirting or communicating with other men or women. (justified or not) May always need to know where you are going and who you will see, a sure sign of their growing need to control you.
6. Verbally abusive
Name calling and emotional cutting remarks are a form of abuse in their own right, and using a joking tone to cover a hurtful remark doesn’t make it any easier for those close to the abusive personality to understand why they are being targeted.
This form of abuse is always hidden and can often take place in front of others as they belittle your feelings, concerns, family and friends all in an effort to undermine your self-confidence giving them the upper hand in the relationship.
7. Use of force during arguments
This can be anything from physical intimidation (standing over you) to actually laying hands on you, be it to shake, push you or even to keep you from leaving by locking or blocking the doorway.
This type of behaviour is again a clear sign of an abusive personality and will escalate in time to more types of violence.
8. Throwing blame
When confronted with their actions abusers will most likely blame their behaviour on somebody else, “If you hadn’t made me so mad…” or even lying altogether, but very rarely taking responsibility for what they say or do. This can even extend to how they describe their previous partners, blaming the relationship problems on them and casting themselves in the best possible light.
9. Cruelty to animals and even children
Someone with an abusive personality may be extreme in what they expect children and small animals to do, punishing them almost brutally for even the most minor infraction. And more often than not an abuser will refuse to have much to do with either one, wanting both pets and animals out of their way most of the time.
It’s important to note here that over 50% of abusers who beat their partners will also beat their children,
10. Substance abuse
Often someone with an abusive personality can have a problem with alcohol or illegal drugs. This can add to the danger of the situation raising the likelihood of violence and emotional abuse to those around them as the drugs and alcohol can take away inhabitations they may have and get in the way of clear thinking. All of which can make a bad situation escalate quickly.
11. Rushes to commit
An early warning sign of an abusive partner is how quickly they see and seek commitment, even if it’s not there yet.
Often they are in a hurry to speed the relationship to the next level quickly. This can be an offer of marriage, eagerness for a baby or the act of moving in together. Any one of these can be enough for them to feel they have gained complete control over you, allowing the abuse to escalate to a new level.
The hypersensitive person tends to take everything as an attack, often lashing out over unpredictable things, and is always ready for a fight. This will of course interfere when it comes to talking about relationship issues openly. As due to a low self-esteem they take everything personally and will quickly throw the blame often onto their partner.
An abusive personality can seem too good to be true at first, charming as they explain that any “controlling nature” is just them taking good care of you because they love you so much, but as time moves on their actions may get more severe, more demanding as they seek more control over your actions and life, and before you may even realise you can find yourself in an abusive relationship.
If someone you know or even your own partner has three or more of these warning signs (or one really exaggerated) then you may be dealing with a potential abuser.
Leaving an abusive relationship can be hard (especially if you still love them) and it can be dangerous, as leaving can trigger the next step in violence even if none has occurred yet so it’s best to be prepared if that is what you decided to do.
How to escape a bad marriage
- Dr. Phil.com - Advice - An Exit Action Plan: Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship
- Safe Horizon :: Call Our Hotlines
Safe Horizon is a victim assistance agency that provides support, prevents violence, and promotes justice for victims of crime and abuse, their families and communities.