There are many behaviors a batterer exhibits early on in a relationship–red flags–that may foreshadow abuse in the future.
Flashes of anger toward others can essentially be a preview of how the batterer may behave with you in private. Early on in a relationship, a batterer may not show their true colors, but these glimpses of their anger can be directed at you, their coworker, or anyone that displeases them. They may become enraged with their ex having to change plans for parenting time with their children, and minimize it by saying something like, “They always do this to me!” Or your potential partner may lose their temper at you for being late for your date, but then apologize later for this outburst. Recognize that anger IS NOT the cause of the abusive behavior. Abuse is about control, but a batterer may use anger as an excuse for their abuse. The anger is merely a tool utilized to gain control.
A history of abusive behavior or present abuse toward others, including family (yours or theirs), pets, ex-partners, and children is another pattern that should be taken note of. Any recurring displays of control and/or violence, such as verbal or physical abuses, are a demonstration of an individual’s belief that such behavior is acceptable, when it absolutely is not. Witnessing a potential partner become insulting toward wait staff at a restaurant or hearing them verbally bash their ex as they describe their previous relationship can be indicative of that individual’s controlling attitudes and behaviors.
Waiter! I told you that I wanted my steak RARE!
Are you incompetent or just stupid?!
My last partner was a total @#$%&!
They were an absolute &$%#@ psycho!
Attitudes and behaviors toward someone’s ex-partner is something to really pay attention to. If your potential partner gets verbal or physical with their ex during a custody exchange, it is probable that this isn’t the first time they have behaved in this manner, and this conduct may likely not end with the ex. Understand that this demonstrates a cycle of violence, which is a continuing pattern of abusive and unhealthy behaviors. Also recognize that just because your new partner has not behaved that way toward you as of yet, it does not mean that they never will.
These red flag abuse behaviors can also be directed at animals, family, and children. Animal abuse has been found to be one of four significant predictors of future abuse in a relationship. Abuse of pets can also create an environment of fear in the home and be used as a tactic of intimidation, which can be used by a batterer who is seeking to maintain control over their partner. Repeated name calling, yelling, or any physical abuse toward children or other family members sets the standard of how your potential partner deems it appropriate to treat the vulnerable or those closest to them.
If you find yourself to be fearful of your partner’s anger, are concerned about abusive behaviors committed by your partner, or feel like you have to adjust your behaviors and choices to avoid your partner’s wrath, then there is a problem. It is important to realize that you should never feel this way in a healthy relationship, and that your partner may likely be counting on your fear of their anger and abusive demonstrations toward others as a means to obtain and maintain control over you.
If you or someone you know may have witnessed this behavior in a partner, and want to know more about other potential early warning signs of domestic violence, Arkansas Valley Resource Center Staff are available 24/7.
415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656