“I’m starting to remember who I was before you convinced me I was worthless.”
Abuse is improper use or treatment for an immoral purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, sexual assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; illegal practice or custom; offence; crime, or verbal aggression.
People sometimes have trouble recognising that they are being abused. Recognising abuse may be especially difficult for someone who has lived with it for many years. However, it is always okay to talk to a trusted adult or friend if you feel you or a friend are abused.
To abuse someone is not normal and is never okay. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love.
It is still abuse, even if your incident seems minor to what you have seen around you, or you have just been injured once or twice, or the abuse stopped because you just became passive and did not fight it anymore.
Abusers have common characteristics and are in control of what they are doing.
Abusers usually abuse people close to themselves – their loved ones. They save the abuse for when they are alone with their victims. Then, they can start and stop their abusive behaviour as they want. They will aim their abuse at places on the victim’s body where it won’t easily show – for example, hitting you on your head. They feel guilty about their actions, although they fear being exposed and caught.
Types of abuse
Physical abuse can include punching, hitting, pulling hair, and kicking, to name a few – sometimes seen in domestic violence besides other relationships.
Emotional abuse can be bullying, teasing, and humiliation. Intimidation, threats, putdowns, and betrayals are other forms of it.
Mental abuse shows up in mental harassment, torture, blaming, and demeaning ways to put the person under stress and make to suffer from feelings of intellectual incapability and despondency.
Verbal abuse involves foul language and calling names that often lead the person to have low self-esteem.
Financial abuse occurs when you aren’t allowed to keep or use your money, nor have any control over money.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s mainly being forced into any sexual relationship you don’t want.
Warning signs of an abusive relationship
Relationships don’t become abusive – they start that way.
Gandhi said: ”Every time we impose our will upon another, it is an act of violence.”
Definition: What is the primary aggressor?
A Primary Aggressor is an adult or adolescent who gains power and control in a relationship by limiting the partner’s options on an ongoing basis through vigilance, coercion, non-cooperation and punishment and maintains the limitation with the denial of abuse. ¹
At the start of a relationship, the primary aggressor is more careful in his tactics to woo you – till commitments are made. We have listed 16 behaviours below that you should watch out for – they are all bold signs of abusive and controlling behaviour.
He is highly involved and intense.
The primary aggressor organises his life around you immediately. You might find the attention flattering, even though it’s slightly over the top. The elaborate planning of dates and getaways may create a sense of obligation in you. You start feeling “you owe him”.
Next, he becomes over-interested in your previous and current life, relationships, and activities. He wants to participate in all of it. Or on the other hand, he might keep you so busy – that you cannot pursue your normal activities. Finally, he takes the liberty to assume a level of intimacy and showers you with gifts you are uncomfortable with.
He needs constant contact.
He wants to be in contact all the time. He sends text messages, makes lengthy phone calls, visits you at work, and insists on accompanying you everywhere. He becomes upset if he can’t reach you. Please note that it is a powerful warning sign. Although the attention may feel good, it warns of emotional dependency and angry attachment. Healthy people have more going on in their lives than just the focus on their partner. In a relationship, it is okay to participate in activities independently of your partner. For example, You have your friends/activities; he has his friends and activities, and as a couple, you have mutual friends and activities.
He is jealous without reason.
A primary aggressor displays jealousy. The jealousy is not because he loves you – it instead shows angry attachment, which is a warning sign to note.
He demands early commitment.
He pressures quickly for commitment – a relationship, moves in together, engagement and marriage. For him, control is everything. He might tell you you owe it to him – creating an obligation with you where there is not.
He has a blaming orientation toward life.
A primary aggressor is a blamer – he blames everyone else in his life for what goes wrong. It includes his feelings, his disturbing behaviour, and his previous partners. If you encounter someone who always blames others – know it is a big red flag.
He is too good to be true.
Everyone that starts a new relationship puts their best foot forward. However, you must realise that no one on earth fits you 100%. There is no such thing. A relationship always has a give and take, like two rough stones that rub and scour one another till they are smooth.
If someone fits you 100% in all you do, like all you like, and enjoy all you do – it is a red flag.
Another powerful warning sign is grandiose claims that turn out to be untrue. One example is name-dropping, especially in your field of interest. Usually, the names of famous people are used, which will be hard for you to verify. In addition, using a person’s name implies the person is known to the user.
He isolates you
Isolation can happen gradually but quicker when he senses that someone is expressing doubts or a critical view. Often he will say he doesn’t like that person, or that the person is a bad influence on you, and insist you not talk with them.
He talks about trust and betrayal often.
It indicates that the aggressor believes other people not doing what he wants them to do is a crime. It is the start of justification of abuse.
He has road rage.
Please take note of his roadside manners. While many people display anger when they drive towards others drivers, a road rage incident where he wants to punish another human being for a transgression might show how he will react towards you if you should make a mistake.
He honey-mouths you when he wants something.
It is acceptable to ask your partner nicely if you want something. However, a primary aggressor goes all out and overdoes the ask. He intends to make it impossible for you to say no. It is a red flag because it is said he will get what he wants at all costs.
He shares news about his previous partners cheating on him.
The primary aggressor is pathologically jealous, and while it might have happened, it is much more likely a figment of his jealous imagination. If he says, more than one girl cheated – see it as a big red flag. He will say the same about you when you break up with him. He does it to keep face and to walk out as the angel.
He tries to get back with his ex while wooing you.
Firstly – it means he believes no one has the right to end a relationship and leave him. Secondly, it shows desperation and dependency if he jumps quickly from one relationship to another.
He is surrounded by secretiveness.
To have secrets in a relationship is a warning sign of an abusive relationship. This is because a primary aggressor often tells a person only what they know already or will find out anyway. Learning something someone else doesn’t know is called compartmentalisation and leaves gaps in our knowledge about a person.
He shows up unannounced or uninvited.
He likes to keep you off-guard by just showing up uninvited. It is a sign of pathological jealousy, and he does it to check up on you.
He has few or no close male friends.
It is a red flag if he has few or no close friends. A primary aggressor finds it difficult to secure long-term friendships with other men. The reasons are unclear: maybe because of his jealousy, he views them as competition or his inability to be sincere.
He has difficulty cooperating with others.
If a guy frequently changes jobs, is unemployed most of the time, or prefers to have a job where he works for himself, it could be a sign that he has difficulty working or cooperating with others. Take note if he always has an excuse for not taking part.
He has “attachment swings”.
Mood swings are different from attachment swings. Mood swings range from being sad to happy—attachment swings, on the other hand, range from being pleased with people to being suspicious and eventually blaming them.
He has to be right
A primary aggressor wants to be right all of the time. Therefore, they have difficulty apologising and are seldom sincere when they do.
Other articles you can read about abuse:
Questions we can help with:
• I think I am being abused. What can I do about it?
• I am too scared or embarrassed to tell anyone.
• What will happen if I tell?
• What types of abuse are there?
• What do I do if I think someone is abusing a child?
You can do a self-test quiz to learn more about abuse:
If you see something – say something!
Failure to report child abuse or knowledge or suspicion of child abuse may result in prosecution and up to 5 years jail term.
References & Resources
¹Warning Signs. https://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Resources/warning_signs.html