• Robin Parry

Spot an Abuser

If you are ‘a glass half-full’ person most likely you notice the positives in other people long before you are aware of any negatives. It is not that you are necessarily naïve but rather that you are basically a positive person who is more trusting than not. This positive trait can be exploited by less scrupulous people such as abusers who are attracted to this quality.

Train yourself to spot abusers. We, as women, must bring our critical, analytical selves into a romantic relationship. We need to make our mark on the world to step forward and to think rather than to trust and to follow. For instance, if you don’t like something your partner said or did think about it. Why did he say/do that? What does it mean? Let’s say he criticised you in front of others at a social gathering and you let it slide. It might be an early warning sign of emotional abuse to come so remember what he said and watch to see if it happens again because it is not okay to be badmouthed by someone who supposedly loves you. Or he may have been untruthful. It takes less effort to excuse the lie and to forget about it, which women in love tend to do. Don’t. Keep it in mind and pay close attention to any further mistruths. If he is dishonest once he is likely to be dishonest again, and again.

The abused women who attended my groups became very good at spotting abusers. It can be very helpful also to confide in trusting friends and family members to check out any doubts you have about a new partner as they are likely to see things about him that you may be oblivious to. As a rule of thumb end a troubling relationship early because the longer you are in an abusive relationship the harder it becomes to extract yourself. He will know you weak points so you need to know them also. You may, for instance, be susceptible to flattery or gifts and if he thinks he may lose you that is what he will do. There is often an ulterior motive behind an abuser’s unexpected acts of kindness, helpfulness and generosity and the better he knows you the more leverage he will have over you. He is a cunning persuader and he knows how to seed uncertainty. Train yourself to spot an abuser.

Bringing your analytical self into a new relationship might seem unromantic but it is so easy to get snared in an abusive, destructive relationship and the longer you persevere in trying to make it work the more stuck you will become. Pay attention to what he does and what he doesn’t do that he ought to have done. Keep a diary – talk to people who know and love you – be a thinking, acting woman.

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