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Red flags to signal your partner could be abusive

“But he seemed so normal, so nice, so romantic…” And they all do at the beginning of a relationship, or is it because you are wearing rose-coloured, loved-up glasses and the signs are there, you just refuse to see them?

Sad woman on couch with husband

One in three women will experience domestic violence at some stage in their life according to statistics collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In September last year the vicious death of a Melbourne woman highlighted the flaws in relying upon restraining orders intended to ensure women’s personal safety. Surely it would make more sense to show discernment in the beginning stages of a relationship than later down the track when it’s harder to disentangle two merged lives?

Signs to watch for

He calls you names

Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me? Forget the primary school rhyme your parents taught you to cope with playground bullying, there’s never a good excuse for name-calling. It doesn’t matter whether he’s had a bad day at work or you’ve pushed all the wrong buttons. Calling you fat or lazy can hurt just as much as a slap to the face.

He gets jealous

“It’s soooo cute, he gets jealous,” I hear you say, and “it’s just because he loves me oh so much.” There’s nothing remotely cute about being in a relationship with a green-eyed monster. According to everyone’s favourite psychologist, Dr Phil, jealousy is a poorly disguised need for control and power over you. What’s cute about wanting to control you?

He has mood swings

One minute you’ll be talking and laughing, the next he’s flown off the handle from a careless comment and instead of walking on sunshine, you’re walking on eggshells. Are you constantly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing will cause a Mt Vesuvius-like eruption or do you wonder what kind of mood he’ll be in tonight when you get home from work?

He likes his booze (or drugs)… a lot

Just because he doesn’t drink with breakfast or he only drinks on the weekends doesn’t mean he’s not an alcoholic. The Australian Institute of Criminology reports show women whose partners regularly binge drink are more likely to be victims of domestic violence.

He doesn’t trust you

You’ve never given him any reason to doubt you, but he insists on knowing where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing every other minute of the day. If he’s spying on your Facebook, opening private mail or has to know who’s texting you then he has trust issues.

He isolates you from friends and family

Swept away with the romance it may seem like you don’t need anyone else but each other. If he hates your friends and doesn’t care much for your family and discourages you from spending time with them, this should immediately signal warning bells.

What to do when it’s time to call it quits >>

He likes to be in control

Constructive criticism is okay. For example; when asked “Does this make me look fat?” and he says “Yes, dear, those jeans do make your butt look bigger!” — that’s okay. If he starts dictating what you wear in public, what colour your hair should be and how to style it, who you can talk to, what time you must be home from work and gets mad if you don’t comply — it’s time to walk away.

Other warning signs

  • Disrupts your job by phoning all the time or making you miss work
  • Blames you for things that go wrong or his bad moods
  • Scares you deliberately by driving fast, punching walls or making threats
  • Accuses you of cheating on him
  • Destroys or sells your belongings
  • Restricts your access to money, the phone or car
  • Uses threats to hurt you, friends or pets if you don’t do what he wants
  • Forces you to have sex or makes you do things in bed you don’t want to
  • Threatens to kill you or himself if you leave
  • Acts like Prince Charming in public but behind closed doors he’s a jerk

No-one deserves to fear someone they love. If you need help, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)

More relationship help

10 Tips: Bring the spark back into your long-term relationship
5 Ways to keep your marriage strong
Getting him to agree to see a relationship counsellor

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