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Early Signs of a Potentially Abusive Relationship

By Kathryn Rateliff Barr ; Updated June 13, 2017

You just met this person and already you feel like you’ve known him forever. He’s already talking about moving you in, how he’s going to take care of you and encouraging you to trust him. Slow down and don’t get into a rush. Pushing you into a quick relationship is just one red flag that can signal an abusive relationship, according to The Red Flag Campaign, a sexual and domestic violence prevention in Virginia.

Abusive Attitudes

A partner who will abuse you carefully avoids actions that make you fearful early in the relationship, according to psychotherapist Steven Stosny, Ph.D., author of “Love Without Hurt,” in Psychology Today. Her attitudes might clue you in, however. She blames everyone else for her problems and denigrates her past partners. She displays resentment toward anyone who doesn’t give her what she wants and feels entitled to special treatment. She picks apart what you do and speaks sarcastically in ways that are hostile and devaluing.

Actions Toward Others

Watch how your new romantic interest treats others to predict how he will treat you later. If he breaks things when angry, abuses others, and behaves as if he is better than everyone else, you will soon be on the receiving end of those actions, according to security expert Gavin de Becker in an article on Oprah.com. He might talk negatively about your friends and family and assure you that you don’t need them. He may respond aggressively when another guy talks or flirts with you and accuse you of encouraging the behavior, according to the Red Flag Campaign.

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Actions Toward You

As the abuser becomes more secure in the relationship with you, she might attempt to coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do, ignore your boundaries and disrespect what you think or say. She lies about what she does or promise things she has no intention of following through on. She might cheat on you as she berates you for cheating on her when you have done nothing wrong. It’s not unusual for an abuser to try to control where you go and who you go with, and she might call you to verify your whereabouts, sort through your email and mail or phone to see who you talk to. Isolating you from your family and friends is also a common tactic early in the relationship.

Get Out

If you recognize these red flags, decide tit's time to get out. If you have been abused, call your local spouse abuse center or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Many states also have abuse hotlines. Your local abuse center can help you with contacts for temporary housing, counseling, legal services and other resources. They will understand your situation and help you stay safe.

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