Abusive Relationship – Warning Signs

abusivechecklistOne of my biggest concerns is my daughter will grow up and marry an abuser herself.  All I can really do is teach her the facts and perhaps inform her of the warning signs.  After all there were early warning signs in our relationship, when we were dating, which I  missed or chose to ignore.  Several websites, have very good lists of warning signs,  this one is from the Red Flag Campaign.  Let me go through the ‘red flag’ list and see how many were present in my relationship.

I also listed many of these resources at the bottom of this post that discuss the various ‘red flags’ of abusive relationships.  The warning signs are almost always there but usually the abuser keeps themselves in check for a while, however they always slip up here and there and can’t keep up the act forever.  As I was writing this list I noticed many things were much worse after we were married.  The relationship did not get better after marriage, only worse.  My ex-husband was never physically abusive with me but he was abusive in every other way.  The emotional  verbal abuse caused me such physical illness I was almost certain I was dying of cancer.  I also truly believe if I had stayed in that relationship I would have ended up with some permanent physical illness because of the constant emotional stress.

*Note* As you will see, most of these ‘red flags’ are checked off as being present.  I might have been able to justify a few of these away, but this is a pretty long list an I could think of examples for almost all of them.  Of course, I never had a ‘red flag’ or ‘warning signs’ list when I was dating my ex-husband.  I think that is why it is so important to share this list with our daughters and perhaps even our sons.

Red Flags ‘Warning Signs’ of Abusive Relationships

  • Abuses drugs or alcohol – √
    • My ex-husband was drinking excessively since the moment I met him.  In fact he knew ever bartender in town very well.  They would often give him extra shots for free because he tipped so well.  This was a big time red flag.
  • Have history of trouble with law or getting arrested – √
    • This is another issue for him, in fact I think he thought his acting aggressive was admirable.  He was in very good shaped and worked out all the time and I was blinded by the fact that in my early 20’s I thought he was so attractive
  • Don’t’ work or go to school
    • This would not be a red flag because he graduated from college and was a very successful salesman who made a lot of money.
    • However during our marriage he lost a job where he was one of the top salesmen in the company.   The company had to let him go because some woman turned him in for being dishonest in which he said, “everyone at work does it.”
  • Blame you for how they treat you or anything that happens – √
    • When we were dating he would say that I was just confused and he needed to give me some time to think.  Not that he was doing anything wrong.  He often said that I was too sensitive and could not take a joke.  His jokes were often mean and very personal.
    • I also do not believe he thinks he did anything wrong during our entire marriage or since actually.
  • Abuse siblings, other family members, children or pets
    • There was nothing while we were dating that I could point to but he most certainly emotionally abuses our daughter since our divorce.  He has been putting her in the middle since she was 5 years old.
  • Put down people, including family & friends or call them names- √ 
    • While we were dating he started telling me that my mother did not understand me anymore, but that he understood me.  He definitely put everyone down from people we knew, acquaintances, co-workers, etc….  He still does this today as if he is something perfect and everyone else in the world is beneath him.
  • Are always angry at someone or something – √
    • Yes I cannot think of him ever being happy.  He liked to fight, he liked drama, and he made sure our lives were full of chaos.
    • Even today he buys Rolex Watches, expensive cars, country club memberships and he seems like the most miserable person I know.
  • Try to isolate you and control who you see and where you go – √
    • When we were dating he did not want me to talk to other guys.  I use to go play pool a lot and he really gave me a hard time I eventually gave it up.  My world revolved around him and I am not sure how much was my doing or his influencing.
    • While we were married I know my living so far away from my family was a control factor for him.
  • Nag you or force you to be sexual when you don’t want to – √
    • I do not know about when we were dating but for sure when were married.
    • He slept in another bedroom in the house and would complain he didn’t want us to live like roommates.  This meant he wanted us to have sex but it was okay to sleep in different bedrooms.  He also would show up drunk, late at night and knock on the door until I would unlock it (warning flag if you lock your own bedroom door at night) and I would let him do what he wanted to get it over with.  Very impersonal & uncomfortable sex that would leave me crying when he left.
  • Cheat on you or have lots of partners – √
    • This is another one I am not sure about while we were dating but I am positive he had an affair while we were married.
    • He was calling another woman for a year all the time, had his cell phone bill sent to his work, and when I downloaded his bill I found all the calls to a number at 2 & 3 am.  Then after seeing that I realized he was calling her all the time for an entire year.  When I confronted him about it, he said “She was like one of the guys.”  Plus, I overheard on a telephone call telling someone , “My wife is bitching, she is suspicious, we are going to have to cool it for a while.”  No matter what I know the truth an I knew long before I got a hold of the cell phone bill.  For a while I just wasn’t ready to deal with his affair, so I stayed in denial.
  • Are physically rough with you (push, shove, pull, yank, squeeze, restrain).- √

    • Not while we were dating he never laid a hand on me.
    • Even while we were married he did not physically abuse me, his was one of mental abuse.  However, he did kick a hole in our bedroom door, physically block me from leaving the house with his body, threaten to hurt me with words meant for intimidation.  My ex-husband was most certainly a bully.
    • Our daughter is even very worried about making him angry and keeps her thoughts to herself.  She has learned to just agree with him even if she doesn’t.
  • Take your money or take advantage of you in other ways. – √
    • I guess while were dating he took advantage of my wanting to buy sometimes.  I didn’t mind at first but certainly had a problem after a while I just never said anything to him.
    • When we were married he was extremely Financially Controlling in many ways.  Hiding money, keeping track of what I spent, keeping us broke as I mentioned earlier, making sure we stayed in debt, buying whatever he wanted but I had rules, etc…  When he was happy with me it was our money, our house, our stuff.  When he was pissed it was his money, his house and his stuff.
  • Accuse you of flirting or “coming on” to others or accuse you of cheating on them.- √
    • I had  not thought about this but he was always accusing me of cheating on him, in a ‘joking’ way.
    • Even at the end of our marriage he was accusing me of having an affair and threatened divorce.  Of course I had already filed for divorce at that very time.
  • Don’t listen to you or show interest in your opinions or feelings. . .things always have to be done their way.- √
    • In our household he was definitely the rule-maker, not me.  He was extremely manipulative and would say he didn’t expect anything from me but his actions made sure I knew different.  When I complained about our marriage he would simply reply, “Every marriage has problems, you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.”  He made sure he knew me well enough to use anything personal I said against me in a hurtful way.  Other than that he did not know me or listen at all.
  • Ignore you, give you the silent treatment, or hang up on you. – √
    • I think did ignore me a bit when we were dating.  Although I mostly remember him knocking on my door & calling my house from his cell phone outside door until I opened door, often at 6am in the morning.
    • When we were married he would just ignore me when I would try to talk.  Eventually I would get mad and yell at him and then he would make me feel like I was the crazy one.
  • Lie to you, don’t show up for dates, maybe even disappear for days. – √
    • I don’t know about this one while we were dating.
    • However, when we were married never came home when he said he would.  He always made promises and never delivered on any of them.  I eventually knew I couldn’t’ believe a word he said but felt the disappointment anyway.  He often used our fights as a reason to justify staying out late & drinking and not coming home.
  • Make vulgar comments about others in your presence – √
    • I seem to remember he would say things deliberately that he knew upset me, only to get a rise out of me.  Including using racial words that upset me.  He told me once, “I don’t really care, I just like getting you upset.”
  • Blame all arguments and problems on you. – √
    • Everything was my fault or ‘our fault’ and never his fault.  I know many of his reactions were meant to set me up to get angry so he could say I was wrong too.  When I finally figured this out I had to work very hard to not react.  He was very good at pushing my buttons.
  • Tell you how to dress or act. – √
    • While we were dating he was very controlling and would want me to get my nails done, my hair done and tan.  I did so much of this to please him.  He wanted me to be his little showpiece.
    • Even when we were married he would bring me out to show me off, not to spend time with me.
  • Threaten to kill themselves if you break up with them, or tell you that they cannot live without you. – √
    • He definitely put on a guilt trip to get me to go back to him when we were dating.  He was so in love with me.  Yeah right!
    • Also, when we were married he made himself sick to try to get sympathy.  The last time I was so ready to get out permanently I could care less.
  • Experience extreme mood swings. . .tell you you’re the greatest one minute and rip you apart the next minute. – √
    • When we were dating his moods were not quite as extreme, although I remember we fought a lot when he was drinking.
    • However, when I was married I swear he was completely unpredictable.  Get pissed about the tiniest things or be completely calm about something I was sure he would freak out about.  Every day his behaviors were very extreme. Working out all the time or never at all.  Eating really healthy or nothing but junk. Home all the time or never home.
  • Tell you to shut up or tell you you’re dumb, stupid, fat, or call you some other name (directly or indirectly). – √
    • He did this plenty while dating and when we were married.  He still does with our daughter.
    • When we were married he didn’t say directly I was stupid but that I didn’t have a degree and nobody would hire me without one.
    • With our daughter he wouldn’t tell her I was mean but that she would get in trouble I was going to be mad at her.  Always highly manipulative by saying things without saying things.
  • Compare you to former partners.
    • Not sure about this one but I remember him blaming his inability to commit to the relationship or treat me right was because he was treated wrong by former relationship.  This was just an excuse really.   Oh but he did say that my not having orgasms was my problem because he never had this problem before.
  • You feel afraid to break up with them. – √
    • I was so afraid to break up with him because he was harass me.  Call me continuously or show up at my door at the crack of dawn.  Sometimes it seemed easier just to stay with him.
    • I was really afraid to divorce him too because he made me feel like I would lose my daughter.  Common abusive fear tactics.
  • You feel tied down, feel like you have to check-in.  – √
    • I certainly felt like I couldn’t make a move without checking in with him first.  If I did anything on my own I would get in trouble.   I felt like this with our marriage, like I had rules but he didn’t.
  • You feel afraid to make decisions or bring up certain subjects so that the other person won’t get mad. – √
    • I use to believe I was responsible for making him angry.  He had made that very clear.  
    • This is another issue for him, in fact I think he thought his acting aggressive was admirable. He was in very good shaped and worked out all the time and I was blinded by the fact that in my early 20’s I thought he was so attractive
  • You tell yourself that if you just try harder and love your partner enough that everything will be just fine. – √
    • I really think I believed I somehow could make things better.  I always tried to work on our relationship but what good did that do when he never made an effort.  It took me many years to realize he was not going to change and I didn’t like one thing about him anymore.  I knew if I couldn’t accept things the way they were and I knew I could never do that.
  • You find yourself crying a lot, being depressed or unhappy.- √
    • I was definitely upset a lot, crying often, and very depressed on many occasions.  I also felt physically sick throughout most of our marriage with stomach problems, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, etc…  Amazing how much better I felt after I left.
  • You find yourself worrying and obsessing about how to please your partner and keep them happy. – √
    • When we were dating I went to great extremes, cooking him dinner, planning evenings out, surprises.  He never really did any of that in return.
    • When we were married , still my entire world revolved around what he would do or how not to piss him off.
    • Even when we were divorced I was always trying to figure out how to communicate with him without pissing him off.
  • You find the physical or emotional abuse getting worse over time. – √
    • The emotional abuse certainly got worse over time.  Especially after we were married and he felt he had me trapped.  Plus, I think he cared even less as time went on.  Not that I think he ever had empathy but I think he just didn’t care if he upset me or not.


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