What abusers say: 15 early warning signs

Do you feel there’s something ‘not quite right’ about your new romance? Can’t put your finger on why? If so, you may have a budding abuser on your hands – and listening to what they say could prevent you from becoming their latest project. Here’s 15 early warning signs that are dangerous to ignore.

Photo by click

Photo by click

15 Early WARNING signs

1. He rarely – if ever – calls you by your name. You answer to ‘babe’ or ‘darling’ (because you’re an object, rather than a person). My ex managed to insert this into virtually every sentence, especially when he was making excuses for bad behaviour. Or, this unreformed playground-bully has thought-up a witty but cutting nickname, perhaps referencing the size of your posterior, which you are expected to find as entertaining as he does.

2. He tells you his marriage broke down because his wife was abusive / unfaithful / neurotic. The sub-text here is that he is darn-near perfect, and if you have any issues with him, it’s likely because you too are abusive / unfaithful / neurotic. Oh, and those rough edges that he will (eventually) admit to, need you to smooth them out.

3. He’s the first to say ‘I love you’. In fact, he makes this weighty pronouncement so early on – possibly even before the dishes of your first dinner-date have been cleared away – that you think he’s either a hopeless romantic, or personality disordered. By telling you what he thinks you want to hear, he’s trying to reel you in – fast!

4. He makes snide comments about gay people, or makes racist jokes. Beware, this is one of the top indicators for psychopathy.

5. He tells you that he loves to be with you 24/7. He may turn up at your place, unannounced, because he missed you. You think it’s because he’s madly in love, but – though you are an amazing person to be around – his puppy-dog attachment to you is really about controlling you.

6. He over-reacts to even the hint of a criticism. If you ask him why he’s two hours late for your date and he blows his top, you could be dealing with a disordered narcissist. If you proceed, do so with caution!

Broken laptop

Photo by J Deamer

7. He says far too much, too often! You’ve only just met, but he seems to be bombarding you with contact. Maybe he’s just really keen or over-enthusiastic, but it makes you uncomfortable. One of my ex colleagues recently popped up on Facebook, and sent a friend request. He was a nice guy when we worked together, so I didn’t think about it too much. Within weeks, he went from the occasional cooing comment on photos of my  child, to messaging me about why I didn’t reply to his inbox messages straightaway (when he could see I was online). Can you say, ‘Unfriend’?

8. He’s doesn’t mind letting you know that he’s never ironed, can’t understand the washing machine, and the only home-cooked meals he ever eats are made by his mother. Whilst some men (and women) aren’t fantastically domesticated, for an abuser, this is him telling you what he thinks women are actually for: cooking, cleaning (and sex – but we’ll get to that later).

9. He tells you that you’d be much more attractive if you lost weight, put on weight, or dyed your hair. This mashed-up insult in disguise is a tactic to knock your self-esteem, improving the likelihood that you’ll stick around as his behaviour deepens. My abuser used to insinuate that I didn’t love him because I wouldn’t wear trashy clothes, even when he was in the depths of delusional jealousy.

10. You disagree with him on a trivial point. He won’t agree to disagree, like an adult. He won’t let it go until you concede that actually, he is right: dogs are better pets than cats. It’s much better for him if you learn that your opinions aren’t valid, as soon as possible.

11. He bullies or nags you into doing something you don’t want to do. Not like robbing a bank, but maybe eating Chinese food although you know it makes you sick. He needs to know that you’ll put him above your own needs – even in the smallest things.

12. He’s the master of subtle guilt trips. He’ll let you know that whilst you’re getting ready for a night out with the girls, he is alone after a really bad day at work. This thinly-veiled emotional blackmail is designed to manipulate you into cancelling your plans. If you do, expect more of this as he strives to monopolise your time and push out everyone else.

13. He claims that you have low libido, or maybe that you want intimacy much more than ‘normal’ people. You may be experiencing the beginning of sexual control – which ends with you having little or no say over when (and how) you have sex.

14. He tells you he heard your best friend is a slut, or he believes your brother is secretly jealous of your success. Planting the seed of doubt, this is the thin end of the wedge he hopes to drive between you and your nearest and dearest. My abuser told me my sister-in-law made a pass at him – though I didn’t believe him, the allegation did make me uncomfortable around her. Job done.

15. He blames flip-outs on a rough day at work, bad family news, or a burgeoning migraine you didn’t know he suffered from. Be careful. This could be an insight into the deepest recess of his soul – an active abuser will never, ever, ever, accept responsibility.

Photo by ngould

Photo by ngould

What did your romance say that set your alarm bell ringing? Is there anything that your abuser did in the early days, that you now wish you’d red-flagged?

ALSO SEE:

To uncover how an abuser tries to keep you trapped in a damaging relationship, check out What your abuser doesn’t want you to know.

© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14
https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com

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58 responses to “What abusers say: 15 early warning signs

  1. My abuser used ALL of these tactics at one time or another, turning me into someone so far from the person I actually am that I thought I was going crazy. I left his ass and he’s still (almost a year later) trying to reel me back in with more of the same. Sigh. They just don’t give up.

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    • It really is crazy-making, isn’t it? My experience made me second-guess myself a lot – and it was only after I got out that I realised I was being gaslighted. Thank heavens that you see right through your abuser’s subtle (and not so subtle) tactics!

      Like

      • Crazy-making is the perfect term for what he did to me. I wish more people understood what happens in an abusive relationship so there would be less victim shaming 😦

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  2. I can say that like Sophia’s abuser, mine, too, employed all these tactics at one point or another. Most people would ask why we didn’t respond to that “gut feeling” that was trying to let us know that something was going wrong, but how can we when we have been, by that point, so mentally conditioned to DOUBT OURSELVES because of all the effort the abuser uses to wear us down? By the time we feel something is amiss, we are already trapped and incapable of objectively analyzing their behavior. It’s so sad, because I remember having these nagging feelings about him, but because he had already destroyed the value I had for myself, I assumed that was yet one more thing that was wrong with me, something very broken that I needed to fix. Because why would he act like that *if it wasn’t me* causing the trouble?

    IN this vein, it would be so beneficial to make healthy relationships mandatory education in school… starting at an early age. They put so much emphasis on physical health and academic smarts, but anything dealing with emotions and relationships falls by the wayside. And during our most impressionable years of emotional development, it would only benefit all of us. Not only would it help the youth grow up leading healthier lives, it would help us as adults to refocus on such an important aspect of our makeup. Considering that fact that we have a human drive for partnership in our lives, would this not make sense?

    Would it stop all abusive relationships from happening? I doubt it, but it would help so many see how things *should* work in a relationship where the two individuals work together as loving partners in sight of a common goal versus one steam-rolling over the one out a warped, twisted, and unjustifiable penchant for control and power. Key points like this should definitely be used in this education. How can we expect out children to have healthy relationships as they grow if we are not willing, as their parents, family, or communities, to present them with the example?

    Love this post, thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Absolutely! I’d hate to have to think like an abuser: how much energy must it take to do all of this stuff?! The point I try to remember is that none of these things are said accidentally – it is all part of a strategy designed to prime their victim. I second-guessed myself a lot, too. Unfortunately, in a shiny-new relationship it is easy to overlook red-flags, especially if they are insidious and you are already vulnerable (as I was). Most of us like to believe that the people in our lives have good, rather than damaging intentions, and sometimes it is hard to accept otherwise.

    I definitely agree that both boys and girls would benefit from education on healthy relationships. Here in the UK, there are programmes – particularly targeting girls – but these are piecemeal and still fairly new. As you say, it’s really about positive role models right across the community – not just at schools. I do believe that there is a sea change underway in terms of our understanding of domestic abuse, but so much more is needed to help people to recognise the earliest signs. We shouldn’t have to wait until the abuse ‘gets serious’!

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  4. My husband has used at least half of these…I wish #1 was one of them though. Once, in a SIX HOUR argument (which was actually more of a sermon) he said my name over 500 times. After I saw the argument was going to be a long one and he started off saying my name at the beginning and end of every sentence (I think mostly to keep me alert to his moronic story line), I kept myself awake by counting how many times he actually said my name. I eventually gave up and stopped counting.

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    • Wow. That is extreme. It’s interesting that you mention how you distracted yourself from his hateful lecture. When my abuser was having a meltdown, I used to write lists in my head – like, shopping lists and ‘to do’ lists. The ‘to do’ lists were fun, because I could think up any number of small but amusing ways to get back at him… hiding all of the spoons, changing his ringtone to a song he hated, cutting a hole in his jeans pocket so coins would fall into his socks. I never actually did these things, but it stopped me collapsing during his rants!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the same thing when I read #1. My husband used to constantly stay my name when we was angry and yelling it me.It was always said with total contempt. That’s another way an abuser can belittle you- making even your own name sound ugly by sneering it at you while he ( or she) is “scolding you ” for what YOU did to cause it, how you “made” hem get furious and yell at you.

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  5. The nick name thing is new to me, but I could see how it would be handy to have a name that is generic enough that you don’t have to worry about mixing things up. I am glad that you mentioned the sex games. A few people have, but not as much as the other stuff. Mine actually would tease me that I looked frustrated! Great. Good post.

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    • Cruel nicknames are a destructive tactic because we are pressured to join in the attempt to degrade our self esteem. Sexual control is another – as I’m sure you know – designed to heighten our feelings of inadequacy. Some abusers take sexual control to really frightening depths, but ultimately it all starts with planting seeds that they own us, body and soul.

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  6. Pingback: HEARTBREAK WARNING SIGNS | Love Dynamix·

  7. Pingback: Tracy's control-freak behavior--to me, in my house--Tracy's Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 12 | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole·

  8. All of the above…oh, and when I’d question him about his lengthy periods of unemployment, his response was, “I don’t work for other people. Other people work for me”. Let’s not forget the popular, “No one would put up with you like I do. The only reason anyone else would ever want you is just for sex”. And lastly, the hands-down, all-time soul-killer…”See, you’re such a loser that even your own family doesn’t want you…”, after confiding my insecurities about my relationship with certain members of my family.

    These people are like sharks when they smell blood, they will attack you at your weakest moments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, these charmers seem to have no boundaries. Mine knew exactly what would hurt the most, too. The things that most normal people would treat with sensitivity – they rush in to exploit.

      Kudos to you Kim, for seeing him for what he is, and helping others struggling to get past the hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on H.G. Beverly and commented:
    It’s almost strange how many times I can read something about psychopaths and sociopaths and still feel surprised like, “that’s exactly right!” as if I’m figuring it out for the very first time all over again.

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  10. Sexist jokes (as opposed to racist jokes). He wasn’t a racist but his disrespect for women would leak through in certain comments and jokes. Not realizing they were misogynistic myself I’d join in on some of those jokes.

    My father was also this way and told inappropriate jokes long before I actually understood them. He told racial jokes as well, and ‘imitated’ other races in derogatory ways also.

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    • Thanks for adding your insight. You’re right: disparaging jokes (whether sexist, homophobic, racist or any other kind of ‘ist’) are very revealing about the inner character – and are a big red flag. Never a truer word said in jest, I’ve found 😦

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  11. I was pulled in by the “you’re my only hope” hook line and sinker. He told me all the ways people thought the worst of him, and how bad it made him feel. So when my friends came to me saying, “Why are you with him? I’m concerned,” it just proved his point, that everyone was against him and I really needed to protect him against them, and help him be accepted.

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    • Hi Mere Dreamer, and thank you for sharing your experience here. You make a really valid point.

      If an abuser gets us into the ‘its you and me against the world’ state of mind, it does two things:
      1) We believe that it’s our job to help or fix them
      2) We feel guilty when we leave them, because we feel we’ve given up

      Neither of these is true, but they do work in the abuser’s favour because we are more likely to stay, and he is less likely to accept responsibility for the abuse. Win/win for them. Lose/lose for us.

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  12. My ex was a diagnosed psychopath, he did a lot of the things mentioned. Also another one to look out for are the weird things they say that actually give you an insight into their real selves. For example, I was told things like
    I will never cheat on a woman , I hate cheats (I found out later he was married!)
    I just feel so empty inside
    You seem so open and honest and I want a piece of it
    No one I have ever met would say a bad thing about me, they all think I am a great guy
    You say nice things but you think evil things (projection?)
    I am a great guy being cornered by an emotionally controlling woman (when I called him up on his cheating behaviour)
    The biggest red flag for me was the way he slammed down all forms of criticism by leaving me or flying into an awful, devastating rage. Psychopaths also do not possess clear visions of time so they may talk about something you did “wrong” as if it was yesterday when actually it was five years ago!
    The racism I can totally relate to, he would rage about this, for example if he get stuck in traffic or had to queue at the supermarket it would set off a tirade of anger about him having to suffer because of the amount of immigration we have.
    There are so many other things that I now know were aimed at mind controlling me into submission. Doubts about my friends intentions towards me, my ability to judge people and see that they were just using me, putting down the way I cooked or my ability to keep myself safe. Also a very subtle way of taking my money, I believed he was paying his way but actually I was definitely paying more than my fair share.
    Another favourite for them is to “triangulate” you with another woman, their friend or their own children. This means they will make you jealous by doing things like ignoring a comment you may make on facebook but be very attentive to a comment another woman makes or , a favourite for my ex, showering his child with obsessive love and then telling me how he can never really need me as he loves his son so much. Or maybe you need some help fixing your car and he will tell you he doesn’t have time , take it to the garage, you can then be sure that within the next few days he will tell you he has to go and help a friend with their car.
    Watch out for them hiding behind other, more acceptable personality disorders too, I spend 4 years believing he had bipolar disorder and making excuses for him, truth is he was just a nasty, angry abuser who tried to destroy my spirit!

    Like

    • Amanda, I’m very sorry that you went through what you did with this man – but thank you very much for sharing your red flags. I can relate to many of them myself, especially the rages triggered by trivial things and misdirected anger, and projection. For my ex, it was accusations that I didn’t love him (though in hindsight I understand that it was *him* who didn’t love *me*)

      Clearly, your psychopathic ex *did not* destroy you, and you are living proof that it is possible to escape and come to terms with domestic abuse. Massive kudos to you 🙂

      Like

  13. There were many red flags for me that I ignored because of my lack of self-belief.
    Jealousy
    Making me believe that I did things I knew I didn’t do
    Making me feel uncomfortable with expensive gifts early on
    Slicing his face to prove that he loved me
    Derogatory remarks about people I loved
    Criticising my friends
    Trying to change things about me

    The list is endless! But just reading your blog renews my strength and courage and reminds me that I am divorcing him for all the right reasons! Thank you!

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    • Hi there tellingheavysecrets.

      Thank you for sharing your red flags, I am so sorry that you went through all of that.

      It really is horrific that some individuals believe it is okay to do this to another human being – so many, MANY congratulations to you for having the strength to leave this man. I wish you all the best, and a happy, peaceful future 🙂

      Like

  14. This is exactly how my narcissistic abiser began his pursuit on me, which would turn into 3 children and years of hell before I would obtain clarity and ultimately I freedom. Now I teach on this topic!

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  15. It is unbelievable how everything is falling into place. It´s like reading my own story. I think many people over here would be glad to have your blog in German. Here is the above text:
    * Für abuser gibt es keine gute Übersetzung ( Missbraucher/Schänder) . Ich nenne sie Lebensräuber.
    Was abuser* sagen: 15 Frühwarnzeichen
    Hast du das Gefühl, das bei deiner Romanze irgendetwas ” nicht ganz richtig” ist ?
    Kannst du nicht genau sagen, was es ist ?
    Wenn das so ist, hast du es vielleicht mit einem angehenden Lebensräuber zu tun- und wenn du genau hinhörst, was sie sagen, könnte es dich davor bewahren, ihr neuestes Opfer zu werden.
    15 Frühwarnzeichen
    1. Er nennt dich selten, wenn überhaupt bei deinem Namen. Du reagierst auf “Babe” oder ” LIebling ” ( denn du bist eher ein Objekt, als eine Person). Mein Ex hat es fertig gebracht, diese Bezeichnung in wirklich jedem Satz unterzubringen, besonders, wenn er Entschuldigungen für schlechtes Benehmen hervor brachte. Oder dieser ungeläuterte Spielplatzrüpel hat sich einen witzigen, aber verletzenden Spitznamen ausgedacht, vielleicht mit Bezug zu deinem üppigen Hinterteil, von dem erwartet wird, dass du ihn ebenso unterhaltsam findest, wie er.
    2. Er erzählt dir, seine Ehe sei zerbrochen, weil seine Frau ausfallend/untreu/neurotisch gewesen sei. Die unterschwellige Botschaft ist, dass er fast perfekt ist und dass du, falls du Probleme mit ihm hast, selbst ausfallend/untreu/ neurotisch bist. Ach ja, die vielleicht noch auftretenden rauen Ecken und Kanten, die er ( eventuell) später zugibt, benötigen dich, um geglättet zu werden.
    3. Er ist der erste, der ” Ich liebe dich ” sagt. Tatsächlich macht er dieses schwerwiegende Geständnis derart früh – möglicherweise bereits bevor die Teller eurer ersten Essensverabredung abgeräumt sind – dass du entweder denkst, er ist hoffnungslos romantisch, oder dass er eine Persönlichkeitsstörung hat. Indem er dir die Dinge sagt, von denen er glaubt, dass du sie hören willst, versucht er seine Beute an Land zu ziehen – so schnell wie möglich.
    4.Er macht abfällige Bemerkungen über Homosexuelle oder rassistische Witze. Sei vorsichtig, dies ist eins der wichtigsten Anzeichen für einen Psychopathen.
    5. Er sagt dir, dass er am liebsten ununterbrochen, jeden Tag der Woche, mit dir zusammen sein möchte. Er taucht vielleicht unangekündigt bei dir Zuhause auf, weil er dich so vermisst hat. Du denkst, dass er das tut, weil er verrückt vor Liebe nach dir ist, aber – obwohl es unglaublichschön ist, in deiner Nähe zu sein – bei diese Welpenanhänglichkeit zu dir geht es darum, dich zu kontrollieren.
    6. Er reagiert beim kleinsten Anzeichen von Kritik über. Wenn du ihn fragst, warum er zu eurer Verabredung zwei Stunden zu spät kommt und er explodiert, könntest du es mit einem gestörten Narzissten zu tun haben. Wenn du fortfährst, tue dies mit größter Vorsicht!
    7. Er redet zu viel, und das auch zu oft ! Ihr habt euch gerade erst kennen gelernt, aber er scheint dich bereits zu belagern. Vielleicht ist er nur wirklich leidenschaftlich oder überschäumend, aber es ist dir unangenehm.Einer meiner früheren Kollegen erschien kürzlich auf Facebook und schickte eine Freundschaftsanfrage. Er war ein netter Kerl als wir zusammen gearbeitet haben, also habe ich nicht lange nachgedacht. Innerhalb von Wochen wandelte der Kontakt sich von gelegentlichen schmeichelnden Kommentare unter Bildern meiner Tochter zu Nachrichten, warum ich ihm im Chat nicht sofort geantwortet habe, obwohl er sehen konnte, dass ich online war. Kann man das ” Entfreunden ” nennen ?
    8. Er macht keinen großen Hehl daraus, dass er noch nie gebügelt hat, die Waschmaschine nicht versteht und dass die einzigen selbst gekochten Mahlzeiten von seiner Mutter stammen. Obwohl einige Männer ( und Frauen) nicht viel mit dem Haushalt anfangen können, bedeutet das, was der Lebensräuber dir damit sagt, dass dies die Dinge sind, für die Frauen da sind: Kochen, Saubermachen ( und Sex,aber dazu kommen wir später)……
    (Kirche, Kochen,Kinder / cooking,cleaning,children,church)
    9.Er sagt dir, dass du viel attraktiver wärst, wenn du abnehmen / zunehmen oder deine Haare färben würdest. Dieses vermischte Kompliment ist eine versteckte Taktik um dein Selbstwertgefühl anzugreifen, was die Wahrscheinlichkeit erhöht, dass du bei ihm bleibst, während sein Verhalten sich verschlimmert. Mein Lebensräuber hat mir unterstellt, dass ich ihn nicht liebe, weil ich mich sogar während einer seiner eingebildeten Eifersuchtsphasen geweigert habe, abgetragene Kleidung zu tragen.
    10. Du widersprichst ihm bei einer unwichtigen Kleinigkeit. Er wird nicht, wie ein Erwachsener, zustimmen, dass ihr unterschiedlicher Meinung seid. Er wird von dem Punkt nicht abrücken, bis du endlich zustimmst ; Ja, er hat Recht: Hunde sind bessere Haustiere als Katzen. Für ihn ist es am besten, wenn du möglichst schnell lernst, dass deine Ansichten nicht zählen.
    11.Er bedrängt oder nervt dich solange, bis du etwas tust, was du nicht willst. Vielleicht nicht eine Bank auszurauben, aber bspw. Chinesisch essen, obwohl du weißt, dass dir davon schlecht wird. Er braucht die Gewissheit, dass du ihn über deine eigenen Bedürfnisse stellst – selbst bei den kleinsten Dingen.
    12.Er ist der Meister subtiler Gewissensbisse. Während du dich für einen Abend mit deinen Freundinnen fertig machst, wird er dich wissen lassen, dass er nach einem schlimmen Arbeitstag ganz allein sein wird. Diese kaum verschleierte emotionale Erpressung zielt darauf ab, dich dazu zu bringen, deine Pläne aufzugeben. Wenn du das tust, dann mach dich auf mehr gefasst, da er danach strebt deine Zeit für sich alleine in Anspruch zu nehmen und jeden Anderen beiseite zu schieben.
    13. Er behauptet, du hättest wenig Lust auf Sex oder aber, dass du mehr Intimität willst als ” normale” Leute.Vielleicht erlebst du hier den Beginn sexueller Kontrolle – welche damit endet, dass du wenig oder gar kein Mitspracherecht hast, wann ( und wie) ihr Sex habt.
    14.Er sagt, er habe gehört, dass deine Freundin eine Schlampe ist, oder er glaubt, dass dein Bruder insgeheim eifersüchtig auf deinen Erfolg ist. Die Saat des Zweifels zu säen ist sein Ansatz um einen Keil zwischen dich und deine Nächsten und Liebsten zu treiben.Mein Lebensräuber sagte mir, meine Schwägerin hätte sich ihm an den Hals geschmissen – und obwohl ich ihm nicht glaubte, fühlte ich mich durch die Anschuldigung unwohl in ihrer Gegenwart. Ziel erreicht.
    15.Er schiebt Ausbrüche auf einen harten Tag bei der Arbeit, schlechte Familiennachrichten, oder eine aufkeimende Migräne, von der du nicht wusstest, dass er an ihr litt. Sei vorsichtig. Dies könnte dir einen Einblick in die tiefsten Tiefen seiner Seele gewähren- ein aktiver Lebensräuber wird niemals, wirklich niemals,Verantwortung akzeptieren.
    Was hat deine Romanze gesagt, sodass deine Alarmglocken los gingen ? Gibt es irgendetwas, das dein Lebensräuber getan hat, von dem du jetzt wünschtest, du hättest es damals mit Warnzeichen versehen?

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  16. I have to thank you so much for your blog. It put me back on track. It is always hard when children are involved and although mine are grown-ups now, there is the necessity to protect the next generation. When there is a newborn baby it feels so cruel to keep the grandad out of it, but one must never forget that, really, everyone is just another pawn on the chessboard. Knowing all this ,it is still hard because, surely , there have also been good times and fun and laughter. A counsselor once told me that the biggest danger is looking back remembering only those times and seeing the ex standing in the doorframe in a ray of sunshine. And how tempting is that.Whatever you do- don´t fall for that trap !!! Always remember: it took two years of trench war at home to get him out, 5 years to get the divorce, endless years of fights, courts and social services alerted by him. No – he is not the one who is misunderstood and miserable because of a bad childhood and circumstances !! And he hasn`changed because of age !! Letting him back in will cause further misery!! I am not a horrible person when I keep him at bay, but protecting my family.

    Like

    • You’re welcome, I’m glad the blog was helpful. You speak wise words, clearly learned the hard way and from trying to do the best for your children. I firmly believe that abusive individuals damage their children, much research points to this. Parents who fight to protect their kids from harm should be applauded, instead we are often made to feel guilty and re-victimised by an outdated legal system. How much strength you have to have gone through all of that and still fighting for freedom from abuse. Much kudos to you!

      Like

  17. I started feeling that “gut feeling” only two months into the relationship. We broke up, then got back together for another two months.
    I remember this one time I spilled milk in his kitchen and I walked across the kitchen to grab paper towel. I bent down to clean it up and all of a sudden I could feel his presence right behind me. It wasn’t like when anyone else is behind you. I felt like a child. He was angry that a tracked it through the kitchen (to grab the paper towel). And I explained how it wasn’t a big deal and it was going to get cleaned up. And he said “well you left a spot right there,” which I’m certain was a drop of water from doing dished. But more importantly, the feeling of his presence was very powerful in that situation.
    He would say things like “I don’t know why you’re dating me,” or “we can keep dating until you find someone else.” Implying that I was a higher caliber than he – which is not wrong in hindsight- but then he would criticize me.
    He was slowly putting a wedge between my friends and I. The more I tried to bring up how unhappy I was, or tried to confront issues the more he made me feel stupid. He started chipping away at my sense of self, he talked down about my non-confrontational approach to life- I prefer to talk civilly. He even described how he thought relationships should look like as: “one person is the bull and one is the matador.” Since he was older, any of my opinions were invalid because “I wasn’t always going to think this way.”
    I finally dumped his ass

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  18. Thank you very much! This is a very original list of early warning signs. Many of which I did not see on other lists. And, oh so many are so true! Sadly. Great job!

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  19. This really hit home for me with the stuff my dad put me and my mom through but instead of using “he” could you use “they” instead because women abuse too and your article is called: what abusers say. Not what abusive men say. sorry for being nitpicky about it but it is a problem.

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    • I never said women don’t abuse (check the About page). The points in this article aren’t meant to apply to female perpetrators: This is a site primarily for women experiencing domestic violence /abuse, which is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.

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  20. Pingback: The First Indications That You Are Involved With A Narcissist | Healing And Thriving From Narcissistic Abuse·

  21. Hi Yes most of these things I experienced.
    I had intervention order and he had to go to an anger management course. He then used what he learnt to appear less abusive to others whilst upping the ante on my children and I.
    I noticed he is now engaged to a very young girl from overseas. I am very concerned about her. I was the second wife.First one fled overseas to get away. I didn’t listen much to first wife about her experience because I thought she had mental problems but once I started experiencing what she had I knew it wasn’t me. Should I be sending her a web page like this so she can recognise the signs when they come? He will make it much harder for her to get away.

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  22. The first time he raised his voice at me, in my own home, set the alarm bells ringing loud and clear. At that moment, my gut feeling was 100% correct. I should’ve ended it then and there. Sadly I chose to make explanantions on his behalf and continued the relationship into a few years of hell.

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  23. Reacting very strongly to me voicing a need was taken as a criticism. Apparently I was supposed to be completely accepting of everything he did, smoke marijuana all day, rage about whatever, listen to him attentively for hours. And if I didn’t, then I didn’t know what love was. I was worn down to the point that I believed I had a personality disorder. He would tell me how crazy I was, and that everything was fine in our relationship except for my unrealistic or petty needs and going crazy. I would open up to him about devastating losses in my life, and then he would use that as a basis for criticizing me when I brought up a need. He would say things like, “was I so damaged from loss that couldn’t I see what he was going through?” I’m still in the early stages of trying to understand what happened, and I’m not very clear. I did manage to move out, but have been going back. I was feeling the strong pull of trauma bonds and that brought me to this site. Thank you!

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  24. my abuser insisted i was to never say his name, i must always address him as “babe” he never said my name either he called me babe too

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  25. I escaped a 25 year extreme domestic violent life. I moved out 14 years ago and didnt hide. My ex husband became even more violent. He tried to kill our children and I several times. We are safe now. Or so I thought, I allowed a new predator in our life. He hasn’t hit us, but the list above he has done them all. He works but never pays bills and twists the discussion to make me feel badly for questioing his commitment. I’m becoming depressed and hopeless.

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    • So sorry that this is happening to you. Like you. I went from one abusiveness relationship into another – so I know how devastating it is. I think you know your new partner won’t get better, because abuse worsens with time. Remember when you’re feeling hopeless that you’re absolutely the opposite of this: you are a million times more powerful than the man who needs to mistreat women to feed his appalling ego.

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  26. It was nice to find this resource, but as a man seeking advice about domestic abuse, I found the language to be quite sexist. Maybe it should read “They never do this” or “They do that.” Domestic abuse isn’t always so one sided.

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  27. I have walked finally… I feel lost scared vulnerable still on a rollercoater without the man in my life ..his presence, opinions, voice all still with me. 11 years of grooming.. A very wealthy successful business man highly regarded in his world. married twice known him 30 years .. Was good friends ! We never married because he said he didn’t want to lose half his money again.. I accepted this as I loved him. He contacted me 8 weeks after his wife left him … He was good.. Charming , interesting exciting but in a total alpha male way.. I was vulnerable when he came along.. Perfect for an abuser.. I always stood up to this man… He wanted to move me and my sons away fast.. even going abroad was discussed. He had sold his business and was retired. He went back to work after 2 years..I stood my ground for 11 years..I mean held my own.. Never moving away from my home town .. And not detaching myself from family and friends.. However hard it was to secretly see them I still did.. He’s tried everything the make me isolated.. Loaded me with responsibilities or demands or jobs daily.. To keep me busy.. And expected dinner on the table but would never say when he would be home .. 6pm or 10 pm so you were left waiting. Alone .. Just for him .. Wouldn’t like anyone visiting me ever…He never mixed with anyone from my life .. in 11 years.. If he did it was always dreadful and I would be on egg shells. We only socialised in his life ..That was only family as he never had friends. And mainly his sister and brother in law.. She was more like his partner which was very unhealthy and weird to see and hear.. So my partner was Emotionally Abusive, violent, pathological liar, cheating, has every sign of a narcissistic character, OCD, always believing he had serious illnesses, critical of everyone and everything, never happy, alcohol dependent.. Spoilt, demanding, and the money is his protection of all these facts .. I could right a book.. I have walked from wealth and house to die for that I designed home in Spain, , my possessions even our dog which I adored ..am staying in a rented flat with my son in a room .. have no job.. No money he controlled everything. A car he wants back.. And I reeling from it all.. And I am shaking daily I don’t cry I feel numb.. I have no self esteem, as much I fought back or held my own..a 5 foot woman against a 6 foot 24 stone man..He has done damage beyond belief .. And he hasn’t a clue he has mental health problems but these traits have made him achieve status in his life ..excellent wealth and popularity. How crazy is that.

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    • You’re so amazing and strong. I didn’t even know that other girls could be going through this, i thought i was 100% alone. That was really blind of me. I’m so glad that you are out of that relationship.

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  28. Some of these signs were very visible in my former relationship. Lucky for me my self esteem was always high. He thought that he had broken me. My story is a long one but I will say this. Just something for those who can’t move on think about the times in your life before he or she came along. Ask yourself am I better off now or was I better off then? Surround yourself with situations that make you happy. Think about plans you had before this happened to you focus on making you better loving yourself more. And also know this there is a 99% chance that he will never sincerely care or apologize for what he did. If he does it will be just so he can get back with you in some shape or form. DON’T FALL FOR IT AT ALL.

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  29. I was 15, not wanting to be in a relationship, and pretty much forced into a relationship that was exactly like this, except he lives 8 hours away so it never got physical, other then when he touched me in ways I didn’t like when we were together for one week at a state conference. he was also a player, abusing other girls. I’m 17 now, and sometimes I even feel bad for leaving because I knew he was going through some hard stuff with his family, but every time I reach out to him to make sure he is doing OK, he instantly gets to ripping me apart again, and blaming it all on me.

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    • SAME! Honestly, i was suicidal and even started hurting myself because he made me feel so pathetic. He hated everything about me and made me feel like I was useless and no one but him would ever want me, and that I was lucky he even payed attention to me.

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