Abusers are clever. Rarely does an abuser enter into a relationship announcing their intentions to break down, demean, and ultimately abuse someone they are starting a relationship with. Rather, the torrent of abuse starts with a trickle, and gradually builds towards a river with a current so strong that even strong healthy individuals can be swept up in its wake over time.

There are however some universally accepted warning signs at the beginning of a relationship and at other stages of a relationship, that suggest a dating partner, potential spouse, or other family or household member (remember it is not just spouses who abuse) may be an abuser in waiting.

Watch for these warning signs from someone who:

  • Pressures you to rush into a relationship or commit to the relationship quickly by getting engaged or living together;
  • Isolates you from your family or friends, and discourages you from maintaining relationships with the people who have always been important to you;
  • Tries to control where you go, what you do, or who you associate with;
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions, or controls your decisions or decision-making processes;
  • Expresses jealousy of your family, your friends, your children or your co-workers;
    • accuses you of flirting;
    • makes you account for your time;
    • calls you constantly during your workday or drops in without warning;
    • asks friends to watch you and report back;
    • constantly asks you to “check in” and report what you are doing;
    • acts possessive of you;
  • Belittles you, or tells you that you do not do anything right;
    • belittles your family, or job;
    • makes fun of your goals and accomplishments;
  • Tells you that you are stupid, dumb, or irresponsible;
  • Controls how you spend the money you earn or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses;
  • Makes you feel “guilty” for not doing what they want you to do, or meeting their needs;
  • Prevents you from working where you want to work;
  • Blames drugs or alcohol for their behavior;
  • Prevents you from exercising or engaging in social or recreational activities that you enjoy;
  • Prevents you from attending or completing school;
  • Pressures you to have sex, or to engage in sexual practices that you would not ordinarily be comfortable with;
  • Interferes with your transportation, or your ability to get around;
  • Pressures you to use drugs, or alcohol;
  • Interferes with your efforts to maintain sobriety (alcohol and/or drugs), or avoid compulsive behaviors that you know are not healthy (sex, gambling, shopping etc.);
  • Damages your property;
  • Threatens to hurt your children, or your pets;
  • Is abusive to other people, children or pets;
  • Demeans you as a parent;
  • Threatens you with weapons or physical violence.

Some of these seem obvious. Others, are more insidious, and the abuser takes their time and slowly erode the ability of the victim to recognize, or resist the abusive control exerted by the abuser.

If you find yourself in a relationship where any of these behaviors exist, get help for yourself, and your children. Consult with a professional (psychologist, attorney, social worker) and discuss the behaviors that you are beginning to notice, before it is too late.

The best time to stop an abusive relationship is before it starts. If you, or someone you love find yourself in an abusive relationship contact John J. Ready and Associates at 440-871-4000 to speak with one of our family law attorneys to find out what you can do to get out of the abuse trap or visit our website at www.readylaw.com .