Joseph A. Lombardo
Domestic violence doesn’t begin with a single physical altercation or outburst. Abuse starts with a slow buildup, where the aggressor layers emotional turmoil on top of jealousy and white lies that seem unimportant or easily excusable – at first. Overlooking early warning signs of domestic abuse can allow the threats to escalate into outright assaults. These symptoms rear their heads long before bruises, broken bones and excuses. If you are in a potentially abusive relationship, or suspect someone close to you is, knowing what to watch out for just might save his or her life, or yours.
1. Driven to Commit Early in the Relationship
A head-over-heels love story is the stuff of fairytales, and we’d all be lying if we said we didn’t fantasize about having that sort of connection. However, a partner who professes their undying love while saying you’re ‘so much better than their ex’s’ may be attempting to gain your undue trust and devotion early on in the relationship. This type of adoration can cloud the judgment of the other partner, and make it easier for the abuser to gain greater levels of control. If it feels like it’s too much too soon, it probably is. Don’t allow anyone to establish relationship parameters and commitments before it feels ‘right’ for both of you.
2. Early Jealous Behavior
Jealous behavior, including of those whom you spend time with regularly, is a hallmark of future domestic abuse. At first, the jealousy may seem minor or even playful. Your partner could seem uncomfortable with you going out with friends you’ve known longer than them, or associating with members of the same sex without them present. The jealousy will only increase over time allowing the abuser to establish greater levels of control and to cut you off from your support system – those you’ve known the longest. A little jealousy can be normal, even in a healthy relationship, but when it works to shut you off from your friends and family, it’s a step in the abuse cycle. Get out of that relationship as soon as possible.
3. Abusive or Neglected Childhood
An abusive childhood is a risk factor that could predispose someone to repeat the same patterns of abuse visited upon them during their formative years, according to the Examiner. A partner who is still dealing with the negative impacts of abuse can use those events as an excuse for their bad behavior or abrasive attitudes. Encourage them to seek professional counseling to develop the cognitive tools necessary to avoid perpetuating the deviant cycle of abuse on others. If they refuse to address the mental health aspects of their abuse or neglect, you have to cut the cord and move on.
4. The Loner
Spending quality time with just you and your partner is a standard component of relationship building – every couple needs it. However, an abusive partner can demand your company to the exclusion of all others, and may not have any other close relationships: friends or family. At first, it may appear as through your partner is shy or wants to stay in a lot. Eventually, you’re going to want to get out of the house and interact with society, and that’s when the control and isolation behavior kicks into high gear. The abuser wants to possess you, to treat you like an object instead of a person. Pay attention to your partner’s support system in the first months of the relationship: do they talk about friends? Past experiences with family members? If not, that could be a warning sign you shouldn’t ignore.
Recognizing the early signs of abuse may not be sufficient to remove yourself completely from a partner focused on you to the point of obsession. In addition to friends and family members, our New Jersey domestic violence lawyers can assist you in obtaining the court orders necessary to bar a former partner from visiting you or coming within a certain distance of where you’re located. If you need help, we’re ready to provide at a moment’s notice.
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