Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

How to Avoid Abuse In Future Relationships

A design made with red flags and the words 'How to Avoid Abuse in Your Relationships'

Get Clear on What You Expect from a Relationship

You experienced an abusive relationship before, and your favorite personal goal is to avoid abuse entirely in every relationship from now on. Unfortunately, your experience tells you that you could be in love before you find out that your new mate is abusive!

You’re smart enough to know that abusive people keep their true faces carefully concealed until they know you’re hooked. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it could happen again.

It could happen to you again.

The risk of heartache and fear of abuse is enough to keep some people from seeking romance at all. Yet most healthy people desire someone special with whom to share life’s ups and downs. You want to experience love and trust someone implicitly. You want to live fully, passionately, inter-dependently, and joyfully. And you want someone with you who feels the same about you.

So, let’s rewrite our goal from “I will avoid abuse entirely in every relationship” to

“I will carefully monitor my feelings and note my potential lover’s reactions to small commitments before promising myself to larger ones. In this way, I can more easily see any signs of abuse.” 

Although this goal does not prevent all abuse, it certainly limits its strength and how many negative effects you will experience.

What Are Small Commitments?

Small commitments are things like:

  • You choose where to eat lunch, what movie to see, or what to do on a date (how do they react to your choice when and after you make it?)
  • Choosing who drives, pays, cooks, … (are they a stickler for defined or traditional roles?)
  • Keeping promises to call or visit as expected and showing respect for you by calling if they can’t make it on time (emergencies excepted, of course).

You get the picture. Small commitments are things that we may overlook if our heart is getting ahead of our brain.

YOU are the first person to pay attention to in any new relationship. In your abusive relationship you “learned” that your feelings and ideas didn’t count. In any new relationship, make sure that your thoughts and emotions are respectfully understood (especially if your prospective partner doesn’t agree with them).

Take care of yourself first.

Avoid Abuse by Watching THEM for These Red Flags

Watch How They Treat Other People and Animals

  1. They are racist, sexist, or any other -ist. Anyone who can look at you and think “you’re just like all women” or “all men”, or discriminates against people by any demographic or belief, has the capability to look at you as an object.
  2. They think that people in general are idiotic. Except for themselves. And you (at first).
  3. They abuse animals or brag about hurting animals. Any animal. Even a snake. If they enjoy hunting because they get to kill animals, that’s a bad sign.
  4. They are rude to waiters, taxi drivers, plumbers, or anyone they consider beneath them. Considering anyone “beneath them” is a very bad sign.
  5. They blame their exes for every past relationship’s troubles. How they talk about their exes tells you what they will say about you.

Two Sets of Rules

  1. They insist their schedule is more important than yours. If they’re late, it was because of something important. If you’re late, you were doing something you shouldn’t be doing.
  2. They do not invite you over – ever – or show other secretive behaviors that make you wonder if there’s someone else in their life.
  3. Any time it is okay for them to do something but offensive for you to do it, that means trouble. Likewise, if they encourage you to do something illegal or wrong because you won’t get in trouble for it but they would – walk away.

They Try to Isolate You from Your Life and the People You Love

  1. They say mean things about your family and friends and/or insinuate that you would be better off without the people you love.
  2. They are jealous when you spend time by yourself or with others.
  3. They become obsessive about your time. They should not blow up your phone, show up at your home or a friend’s home uninvited, or insist you reply to every text the minute you receive it.
  4. They accuse you of cheating or flirting angrily and without reason. By doing that, they are attempting to keep you from talking to or being around anyone else. No one wants to experience episodes of abusive anger.

They Are Manipulative Bullies

  1. Compares you to exes, their mother, your mother, their sibling, etc. This is a manipulative way to control your behavior. Besides, they shouldn’t be comparing you to anyone.
  2. They insist on entering your home, car, or place of business uninvited. For example, meeting on the front porch is perfectly fine until you feel comfortable with them seeing your pictures, belongings, and personal spaces.
  3. They exhibit “shows of power” in front of you. Shows of power include bar fights, verbal cut-downs of strangers and friends, humiliating others, etc. These shows bother you, and they should because the person is doing those things to show what they could do to you.
  4. Their sense of humor is mostly sarcastic or mean.
  5. They want to hurry you into big commitments. Know what your “big commitments” are before venturing out to meet someone new. Big commitments are actions that make the relationship more permanent or make you feel trapped (i.e. having sex, sleeping over, moving in together, sharing bills or bank accounts, loaning money, becoming pregnant, etc. ).

How do you avoid abuse? What are your red flags? What are your relationship goals?

Here is a similar page with a slightly different take: Preventing Abuse