Before the fist goes through the wall in anger, before you feel the glass of water whizzing by your head, or before the slap, punch, push or name-calling, there are usually early indicators that abuse is likely to occur. Here are some fairly common, consistent red flags that surface early in most domestic abuse situations.
1. Contempt. Contempt is defined by Webster as "a feeling that someone is not worthy of respect or approval." This is an early sign of domestic abuse that can be quite subtle. At first, it might show up when your partner starts rolling his or her eyes when you express thoughts and feelings. Or it could be discounting your opinion. Contempt comes with an ease to criticize you and put you down, cultivating an environment of personal self-doubt.
2. Coercion. Early on in an abusive relationship, you will begin to feel the emotional arm-twisting and pressure of coercion. It starts to feel like there is no right answer with the partner. Disagreement is perceived as a threat and disapproval is used as a weapon to ensure compliance with the partner's wishes. This early sign of domestic abuse often feels stressful, creating a pressure to not upset the partner. Tension mounts as arguments become more frequent and volatile .
3. Control. A recent article from npr.org has the following title: "Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims." A partner with the potential for becoming abusive needs to be in control. This need for control emerges out of an unconscious attempt to mask his or her personal insecurity. Early signs of control include a gradual and increasing monitoring of your choices and relationships. It seems innocent enough at first..."I just want to make sure you are safe...", but the expectation to know where you are and who you are with at all times increases. There is often an early expectation of seeking permission from the partner to go anywhere or see anyone. This often results in a feeling of being isolated from family and friends not approved of by the controlling partner.
Recognizing these and other early signs of domestic abuse can save you lots of heartache down the relationship road. Avoiding a person who exhibits these early signs can save you from becoming the next victim of domestic abuse.