Many people want to know if there are ways they can predict whether they are about to become involved with someone abusive. Below is a list of behaviors that are seen in people who abuse their partners. If the person has several of these behaviors, maybe three or more, there is a strong potential for physical violence and verbal or emotional abuse. If there are only a couple of these behaviors present, but they are aggravated, the potential for abuse may be higher.
- Jealousy - Abusers usually say that jealousy is a sign of love, but it has nothing to do with love. It is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. The jealousy may be totally unreasonable, like accusing a partner of flirting when it's a normal conversation, and the jealousy may extend to family and friends. The abuser may check your mileage or call repeatedly causing problems at work, or even refuse to let you work, or watch everything you do. He/she might get their friends to watch you.
- Controlling Behavior - An abuser will say this behavior shows concern for your safety, or guidance in your decisions. The abuser may get angry if you are "late" coming home from anywhere. As the abuse progresses, the abuser may totally control all decisions about the house, clothing, church or requiring permission for the victim to even leave the house. Total control of finances is a very common sign.
- Quick Involvement - Many battered women know their abusers for less than six months before becoming serious in the relationship. Abusers often put on the "Prince Charming" act and "sweep their partner off their feet". The relationship is fast and intense. Sexual involvement happens very early and the abuse may not happen until the victim is pregnant - "trapped".
- Unrealistic Expectations - Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all of their needs. They expect perfection in everything and expect to be the victim's entire life and world.
- Isolation - The abusive person tries to cut his victim off from all resources, adding to the entrapment. If she has male friends, then she is a "whore"; if she has female friends, she is a "lesbian"; she is denied close ties to family and her support network is accused of "causing trouble". The abuser may want to live out in the country without a phone, may not let her drive, or disable vehicles.
- Blames others for troubles - Whether it's not having a job, problems with friends, financial problems, etc. they're always the victim's fault.
- Blames partner for feelings - Makes the victim responsible for everything he feels - hurt, mad, etc. and uses that blame to cause guilt and manipulate.
- Hypersensitivity - Abusers wear their feelings on their sleeves. They're easily hurt or mad, etc. Everything is taken as a personal attack even if it is a normal part of living. Their reactions result in the victim "walking on eggshells".
- Cruelty to animals or children - The abuser may expect more than is reasonable of children; 60% beat their children. The abuser may torture or kill a pet to intimidate and send the message "I can hurt you too".
- Playful use of force in sex - The abuser may throw you down, hold you down, fantasize the woman is helpless or restrained, demanding sex or performing sex while the woman is asleep. Engaging in sex through fear is sexual abuse.
- Rigid sex roles - Abusers expect a woman to serve them. This includes absolute obedience, the "King of my Castle" attitude, woman's work, sometimes the victim is coerced into criminal behavior. The abuser sees the woman as an inferior person.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Many victims are confused by their abuser's "sudden" mood changes. They may think the abuser has some mental problem; nice one minute, exploding the next. It's like having two different people living in the house.