Domestic Violence Prevention: Early Warning Signs
Domestic violence prevention can start early. Know the common characteristics displayed by batterers in the beginning stages of a relationship.
Due to the nature of domestic violence, it can be a long time before any overt abusive behavior is displayed on the part of the batterer. Once a woman is deeply emotionally entrenched in a relationship, it often takes very serious circumstances for her to admit or even realize that she has been involved with an abusive man. Even then it may take months or years after leaving a relationship to view the situation realistically. At that point she may be deeply scarred from her experiences. Imagine how her life would be different if she had broken off the relationship early in the dating stages.
There are certain behaviors that may indicate the need for caution when in the beginning stages of dating. Keep in mind that these are only red flags indicating a need for caution. They do not automatically mean that someone is potentially abusive. Many of these behaviors are quite common in non-abusive relationships. However, if several of these behaviors have already been displayed in the early stages of dating, the best thing to do is break it off as soon as possible. Remember also that someone can be abusive and never display any of these characteristics. This outline reflects the most common behaviors of a potential batterer.
1. He doesn't want to meet any of your friends.
Batterers often use social isolation as a means to control a partner. This isolation often begins quite innocently at the beginning of the relationship. He may say that he doesn't want to share you or that he'd like to get to know you before meeting your friends. Rarely does a relationship start out without the couple losing sight of previous routines or friendships for a while. The difference with a batterer, however, is that he will never want to share you with others.
2. He talks about your ability to attract other men repetitively.
While it can be very flattering for your new romantic interest to recognize your ability to attract others, it can also be a sign of jealousy if it gets repetitive. One of the most commonly reported characteristics of a batterer is extreme jealousy. Watch out for any signs of jealousy, particularly when there is no rational reason for the jealousy to occur.
3. He is romantic to the point of being like a fairy tale prince.
If he seems like he came out of a fairy tale, then he's probably too good to be true. Because of the reconciliation stage, many batterers become quite adept at romance. They know just how to turn a woman's heart around so she will forgive his past transgressions. It is these personality traits which keep many battered women in the abusive relationship.
4. He drinks excessively.
While not all batterers are alcoholics, there is strong evidence that indicates a correlation between battering incidents and excessive alcohol consumption. Be cautious if he seems to drink a lot. Be particularly alert to any change in behavior after drinking.
5. He displays aggressive behavior during sex.
Batterers will often test your limits when you are least likely to protest. Once you allow certain behaviors in one setting, he may try them in another. On an additional note, many battered women state that their partners were exceptional lovers in the beginning of the relationship. This characteristic alone is no reason to worry, but if it comes with other behaviors listed in this article be careful.
6. He is critical of any way in which your lifestyle differs from the traditional feminine role.
Batterers tend to adhere closely to traditional sex-role stereotypes. Take note if suggests that you dress in a more feminine manner or wear more dresses. Also be cautious if he is criitcal of your job or of career women in general.
7. He is very negative about his ex or he claims that she was abusive to him.
Batterers often project their own characteristics onto others so this is a definite red flag. While there are many women who are abusive to men, proceed with extreme caution when he says his most recent partner was abusive. The alarms in your head should definitely go off if he states that his partner was abusive but he was the one arrested when the police arrived on the scene.
Remember that this list is not all-inclusive. Other characteristics you should also watch out for include insecure, controlling, or dependent behavior. If the person you are dating displays any of the above traits, use extreme caution. Research the characteristics of a batterer. You might just save yourself from becoming another victim of domestic violence.