4 Easy Ways to Identify an Abuser, and 9 Traits of a Healthy Partner

At times it can be hard to tell whether someone is behaving in a way that is abusive, as some abusive traits can be very subtle and mixed in with “good” deeds. Abusive behavior can be difficult to pinpoint when we are accustomed to seeing these more subtle traits in many of the people we have socialized with in the past, in which case we may convince ourselves that they are normal behavior patterns, when indeed they are not. Each of the signs below is either abuse in itself or demonstrates a general lack of respect for others.

A person is showing abusive behavior if they:

  1. Push for quick involvement:
  • An abuser pressures for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
  • Comes on very strongly, “I’ve never felt like this before.”
  • Seems to tell everyone about you before you know each other well.
  • Pages you or calls you numerous times within hours of a first meeting.
  • Constantly invites you to shows, meals, family gatherings, movies, etc.
  • Includes you in every upcoming event, although you just met.
    1. Take ownership of you without consulting you:
    • Says, “That’s not how a couple behaves” even though you are not a couple.
    • Interrogates you intensely.
    • Tells everyone “we are together,” when you’re not together.
    1. Don’t listen:
    • Ignores your opinion and what you just said.
    • Doesn’t take “No” for an answer.
    • Shows no respect for your position or desires.
    1. Behave Jealously:
    • Excessively possessive
    • Calls constantly or visits unexpectedly to check on you.
    • Checks the mileage on your car, your telephone bill, and cell phone memory.

    These behaviors are often less dangerous than other patterns, but they still require your awareness. Once you have observed that an abuser risks your well-being in this manner, it is important to recognize that they have little respect for you or other people, and will not treat you as an equal. Fix this fast. Misconduct in the present creates future suffering.

    The best way to prevent this sort of abuse is to end any form of communication before the relationship has a chance to develop. Threatening, controlling, manipulating, and tormenting others makes many abusers feel better about themselves. These qualities demonstrate an immature mindset and codependent needs. If someone whom you have recently met exhibits several of these characteristics, you may want to consider disconnecting right away, ending all contact for a long period of time (i.e. 5 years to see if one day he or she will mature and change over the time apart).

    If there are indications that a personality is actively abusive and inherently dangerous, continued involvement might lead to serious physical injury or emotional harm. When facing such serious consequences, I recommend contacting law enforcement, telling your family, neighbors, and co-workers, and possibly hiring a private investigator to provide protection and to gather evidence. Recognize that this may be just the beginning and that it could quickly get worse and take action before this happens.

    If you are accustomed to being around those that exhibit these sorts of behaviors, it may be hard to know what to look for in a good partner. Pay attention to cues of continued healthy behavior patterns, such as the ones listed below. Someone who consistently shows these traits is unlikely to be abusive towards you in the future.

    A person is showing that they value you by:

    1. Always showing respect:
    • Listens to you and respects your answers.
    • Is not judgmental and accepts the right of others to have different opinions, customs, and points of view.
    • Consistently respects other people.
    1. Having a mature perspective:
    • Exhibits long-term thinking and accepts the consequences of their actions.
    • Spontaneous behavior matches long-term goals.
    • Does not overreact to challenges.
    • Does not ignore urgent issues.
    1. Contributing towards the well-being of others:
    • Acts selflessly and appropriately with others.
    • Treats people well, regardless of the benefits of such treatment.
    • Is careful to offer help to those who need it, instead of only helping others if it benefits them in some way.
    1. Consistently behaving properly in various situations:
    • Presents themselves in an authentic manner over a period of time.
    • Demonstrates predictable/commendable behavior despite varying circumstances.
    • Acts with respect and compassion even while under pressure, in stressful situations, or in emergencies.
    1. Giving you space:
    • Respects your privacy.
    • Allows you to keep your friendships and companions.
    • Does not shadow you or require the knowledge of your whereabouts at all times or whom you contact.
    1. Deserving your trust and the trust of others:
    • Both long-term and new friends perceive this person as deserving trust.
    • Rarely gives you reasons to feel uncomfortable or distrusting.
    • Is dependable and ethical.
    1. Being a good role model:
    • Acts in a way that you would like your children (or future children) to act.
    • Exhibits habits of which you are proud.
    • Maintains an exemplary set of habits and views.
    1. Sharing a natural harmony:
    • Even when you are not talking at the moment, you both feel comfortable in your silence.
    • Allows both of you to generally feel happy together.  
    • Fosters a natural physical attraction with you, without you feeling pressured of forced in any way.
    1. Being ethical and impartial:
    • Treats all people in an appropriate manner.
    • Is fair and just with strangers and friends alike.
    • Places honesty over personal gain

    It may take a bit of creativity to use what has been learned and apply it properly to a situation. Try to differentiate between controlling and loving statements and attempt to understand the true meanings behind how people are behaving. With more awareness and a bit of practice, you will be better able to navigate away from abusive personalities.

    When in the midst of an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.

    Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

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