We believe that we have identified some of the "early warning" signs that we missed in ourselves and our abusers. Note that the abuser can be male or female; the victim can also be either male or female. Not every behavior listed below will be exhibited by a single individual. However, you may want to question your relationship if you find that a large number of these behaviors appear in yourself or your partner.
Watch out for these behaviors in your partner. Members of my support group believe that these are warning signs that this person may be an abuser. Note that the abuser can be male or female.
Jealous of time or resources you give others.
Gets angry if you spend "too much time" with friends, family, or children.
Insists that it is "a bad time" to talk to family on the phone.
Feels that resources are "wasted" if given to children.
Gets angry if you do favors for other people or give them things.
Would rather throw something away than give it to someone else.
Is disinterested in or feels threatened by your personal desires or goals.
Finds your hobbies boring, pointless, unproductive, or a waste of time.
Is uncooperative about attending parties or events that interest you.
Picks a fight or creates a crisis just before an event that is important to you.
States or implies that your interests should not interfere with spending time with them.
Is rude or inconsiderate of others in a self-centered way.
Insists on discussing something with you while you are trying to read or watch television.
Expects you to be the one who answers the door or telephone.
Expects you to drop what you are doing when summoned.
Interrupts others while talking on a consistent basis.
Will not act to accommodate others' convenience or comfort.
Won't go outside to smoke
Will not turn down TV or radio while others are talking.
Is unconcerned and unapologetic if rude behavior is pointed out.
Does not respect your right to make your own decisions.
Insists that your decision "affects them" and therefore should be a "joint" decision.
Gets angry or hurt if you don't take their advice.
Criticizes or questions the wisdom of decisions that you make without their input.
Considers their own logic or intellect to be superior to all others.
Insists that their way is the "right way".
Claims that their arguments are based on logic or sound evidence and that yours are not.
Places no value on decisions made based on feelings or intuition.
Believes that any opinion you have is invalid, illogical, hysterical, or selfish.
Is completely intolerant of any criticism of their own behavior.
Is confident that their employer and/or employees are all defective somehow.
Considers your friends to be idiots.
Extremely opinionated and critical of others
Racist or sexist.
Dogmatic about behavior in others.
Unwilling to tolerate opinions that differ from their own.
Has double standards for behavior.
Is rude to your family.
Dislikes your family.
Has "trouble" at work.
Is chronically unemployed or changes jobs frequently.
Explains employment set-backs as some sort of victimization.
Believes that their boss treats them poorly.
Believes that their co-workers are working against them.
Disregards laws or social customs that interfere with their own goals or pleasure.
Sees no point in observing holidays or giving gifts.
Is disinterested in following family or religious customs.
Believes that people who work hard for a living are "suckers".
Is scornful of the government or the "system".
Uses illegal drugs.
Is very concerned about their public image.
Treats you better in public than in private.
Gets angry at you if they believe that you have somehow made them look bad to others.
Brags about you or your accomplishments to others, but never compliments you in private.
Attempts to make you jealous or insecure
Threatens to leave you.
Hints or states that they have other lovers waiting on the side.
Compares you to previous lovers.
Admires strangers and compares you to them.
Tells you that no one will ever care about you the way they do.
Is jealous and suspicious.
Accuses you of infidelity.
Insists that friends of the opposite sex are trying to seduce you.
States or implies that you got a job offer or interview because of your appearance.
Doesn't want you to take part in an activity or outing because you might meet someone else there.
Rushes the relationship
Pressures you to move in together.
Pressures you to have sex before you are ready.
Proposes marriage early in the relationship.
Does not respect your privacy
Reads your diary or journal.
Opens your mail.
Goes through your drawers and desk.
Manipulates others to achieve their goals
Uses guilt trips.
Does things that are dishonest or illegal.
Attempts to coerce you into doing things that make you uncomfortable.
Threatens suicide or homicide if you don't cooperate with them.
Lectures you endlessly until you agree.
Is easily angered at others who interfere with their activities.
Engages in "Road Rage".
Reactions are out of proportion to level of inconvenience.
Is intolerant of children or animals.
Will not get up to feed or change the baby.
Is unwilling to have pets or children because of the mess or inconvenience.
Shows preferential treatment between children (especially "natural" vs. "step" children).
Believes that children don't deserve the level of treatment or support as adults.
Insists that THEY are the victim in the relationship.
Accuses you of being selfish, rude, self-centered, uncooperative, etc.
Claims that you are the one undermining the relationship.
Accuses you of not loving them or not caring about them.
Threatens suicide or homicide if you leave them.
Lack of empathy
Inability to put themselves in another's shoes.
Unwilling to provide comfort to others unless "blame" clearly lies elsewhere.
Makes minimal effort to care for others when sick or injured while complaining about the inconvenience.
Cruel to animals.
Considers donations to charity a waste.
Unable to acknowledge or respond to pain in others/ or you that is not clearly visible.
Turns up TV when you have a headache
Insists on spicy food when you have an upset stomach
Expects you to help with chores when you are feeling sick.
Tears down your self esteem and erodes your confidence.
Tone of voice unreasonably deriding or scornful for the situation.
Questions your ability to do simple things.
Asks you to make a decision and then rejects your decision. Often asking you to decide over again.
Accuses you of being overly sensitive to criticism.
Calls you names.
Criticizes you openly.
Interferes with or attempts to control your career.
Pressures you to quit or change your job.
Thinks that your employer interferes with your marriage.
Thinks that your co-workers/employer/employees are defective somehow.
Attempts to resolve conflicts you have at work for you.
Seeks to "help you" with your career, and is upset if you don't cooperate.
Attempts to choose your job or work projects for you.
Punishes you or threatens to punish you for "misbehaving
Strands you somewhere.
Gives you the "silent treatment".
Yells at you.
Believes that a "discussion" about your relationship is more important that any other obligation or activity.
Makes you late to work or social activities because they want to discuss something.
Picks a fight with you at bedtime and then won't let you go to sleep for hours.
Watch out for these behaviors in yourself. Members of my support group believe that these are warning signs of low self esteem
and behaviors that set you up to be abused.
Fear of failure, and extreme insecurity about your own competance
Try hard to conceal or downplay any mistakes you make.
Are afraid to be seen as stupid, lazy, or weak.
Feel that you are "supposed" to be able to handle a situation or task.
Fear that others will think less or you if you quit.
Believe that no excuse is good enough for a mistake you have made.
Willing to overlook other people's flaws or mistakes.
Believe everyone else but you is perfect and has a good reason for making a mistake.
Believe that you can help others "live up to their potential".
Not trusting your own judgment.
Feel as though your opinion is not as "worthy" as someone else's.
Find a "logical" argument to disregard your "inner voice" or gut feeling.
Assume that criticism you receive from others is valid.
Need another person's input before you can make a decision.
Not feeling that you deserve to be treated well.
Are willing to go to great inconvenience and trouble to avoid causing someone else inconvenience.
Don't want to appear "demanding" or to be considered a "trouble maker"
Assume that if someone treats you poorly then you must have done something wrong.
Expect and accept criticism when you have completed a task.
Are unwilling to be disruptive to the relationship.
Avoid discussing issues that you fear will upset your partner.
Are unwilling to break off a bad relationship because you don't want to hurt your partner.
Secretly wish that your partner would die, move away, find someone else, or offer to leave the relationship.
Allow others to make most decisions.
Let someone else make all the decisions with no input or discussion from you.
Allow others to talk you into a decision you don't like.
Make a decision to please others rather than yourself.
Choose a course of action because you don't want to hurt a particular person's feelings.
Find it easier to "go along" with others decision rather than stand your ground.
Hide behind "womanly tasks" like cooking, etc. - rather than dealing with reality.
Behave as though you agree with others, even when you don't.
"Parrot" someone else's opinions or behaviors.
Keep quiet when you disagree with something
- Allowing someone to think by your silence that you agree with them even if you don't.
- Thinking that the subject is not worth an argument.
Act to "protect" others at your own expense.
Won't break up with a significant other strictly to avoid hurting their feelings.
Avoid saying what you want or need to say because you don't want to hurt someone.
Accept blame that is not yours to protect someone else.
Giving up things that are important to you to please others.
Give up hobbies or activities that aren't shared or approved of.
Give away or sell precious momentos because they "clutter up the place".
Keep photos or momentos in storage rather than display them because your abuser doesn't like them.
Isolate yourself from all people other than your abuser.
Allow friendships with people your abuser dislikes to wither away.
Visit or call family less and less because your abuser dislikes them.
Spend less time with friends, family, or co-workers because it "takes too much time".
Never go anywhere without your abuser.
Conceal your abusers behavior from others.
Believe that others "wouldn't understand" why a situation or behavior is "justified".
Are embarrassed that you allow yourself to be treated this way.
Have been asked or coerced by your abuser to not tell.
Are afraid of being accused of "making them look bad".
Take responsibility for things that are not your responsibility.
"Help" resolve other people's conflicts by acting as mediator
Apologize for things that OTHER people did.
"Cover" for people who are not handling their own responsibilities.
Accept more than your fair share of blame in a conflict.
Apologize just so that the fight will end, not because you think you did something wrong.
Fix, clean up, or conceal something done by someone else to avoid being accused of having done it.
Attraction to authority figures.
Attracted to the smart, self-confident, powerful people.
Attempt to prove your worth to them.
Are thrilled if they "bother" to notice you.
Assume that their advice is sound.