10 Red Flags of Abuse
by Rebecca Hieronymi
When people think of abuse they often associate it to physical violence. But that isn’t where abuse starts or ends. Abuse can be physical, mental, or emotional and everything in between. It is important to understand what constitutes as abuse and what you can do about it if you come to realize that you are being abused. What follows is a list of 10 Red Flags of an abusive relationship. This list does not cover every red flag or sign of abuse so if you feel you are being abused, please seek out help.
1. Controlling behavior: Many times an abuser wants to control every aspect of their victim’s life. They might want to know who you are talking to, where you are going, and can even go so far as to controlling what a victim wears, how their make-up is done, or how they carry themselves.
2. Humiliates you: Humiliating a victim in front of their friends or family is used as a way to keep the victim feeling weak and small so they don’t stand up for themselves.
3. Guilt trips: When an abuser wants to get their way, they might say things like, “if you loved me you would or wouldn’t do this,” or “I thought this meant something to you but apparently I was wrong.” They use this method in hope that the victim will feel bad for letting the abuser down and give in to whatever they want.
4. Forces you to take responsibility for their feelings: This manipulation tactic is used as a way to make the victim feel responsible for anything bad. The abuser might say something like, “You make me angry,” or “you’ve done this.” This is used to push the victim to work on making the abuser happy at all times.
5. Ultimatums: Holding something over a person’s head, perhaps a child or a home is an attempt by the abuser to gain control over the situation. The abuser might say something like, “If you do this, I’ll take away your credit cards,” or “If you leave me, I’ll kill myself.”
6. Physical Violence: When an abuser can’t get their way with words they can and will resort to physical violence. This can start off as small things, like holding their victim’s arms and lead up to hitting, choking, strangling, and even killing the victim.
7. A Bad Temper: A person with a short fuse might blow up over something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone else. This is yet another form of manipulation. The goal is to scare the victim into being subservient and obedient.
8. Forces you to do things you don’t want to do: This can mean anything from making you go out when you’d rather stay home to making you do something physically that you don’t want to do. It is another way for an abuser to gain control and some might even find pleasure in watching their victim feel uncomfortable.
9. Constantly checks up on you: An abuser may demand that their victim text them at certain intervals while they are out or request that the victim send a picture of them with the friend they said they were with.
10. Picking a fight: Abusive people do this to test your limits and boundaries. They want to know how far they can push you and what all you might be willing to apologize for. They will not take responsibility for anything but will instead make you feel as if it was your fault. When the fight is over, they may be cold toward you to see what you might do to win back their favor.
If you recognize any of these signs or feel like you might be in an abusive relationship, please seek help. If you are actively being abused, call 911 as soon as you can and report it. If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help. Please contact us locally at 256.574.5826, on our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000, or at our website www.csna.org. Advocates provide free, confidential support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.