Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.02.59 PMHe seemed sweet at first. In fact, he had many sweet moments. But then there was the other stuff …

Abusive behavior isn’t as simple as we, as a society, want it to be. We often think that the kinds of signs that tell you a man could be abusive are very obvious. We imagine monsters, overtly misogynist thugs. We think of extreme physical violence as being the key – or the only – signifier. But often the violence doesn’t start until a relationship is already established – sometimes not until after a woman has moved in with her boyfriend, marries him, or becomes pregnant. In fact, the leading cause of death in pregnant women is domestic homicide, which is to say they are killed by their intimate partners. If we limit our understanding of abusive behavior to physical violence, we risk ignoring other red flags we should be heeding.

Abusive relationships are about more than physical violence and usually involve emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse as well. While it is never the responsibility of a victim to somehow “avoid” abuse, it can be useful to learn about some behaviors that tell us a man might become abusive down the line.

Here are some red flags I experienced in a relationship that told me I needed to get out:

1. Irrational Jealousy: Jealousy isn’t always just about your partner worrying you’ll cheat or feeling insecure about people you might be attracted to. What I didn’t realize right away was that jealousy can show up just because you pay attention to someone or something that isn’t your partner. An ex of mine once – no joke – got jealous of my dog, becoming angry and anxious that she was trying to “keep us apart.” Once at a party he grabbed my wrist and pulled me away from a female friend I was talking to because he felt angry I was focused on her instead of him. He was irrationally obsessed with the idea that I was cheating on him and when he started accusing me of “picking fights” so I could sneak off to have sex with my ex, I knew things had gone way too far. But the warning signs were there all along.

We sometimes think of jealousy as a flattering display of love. Abusive men will often tell you that they feel jealous because they just love you so much and want to be near you at all times. Alas wild, irrational accusations or displays of anger or aggression when you pay attention to your friends, your pet, your child — or even when you talk to other men — isn’t about love. It’s about control.

2. Anger: Temper tantrums, outbursts, getting irrationally angry over small or insignificant things are signs that a man has anger issues and can’t (or won’t) control his behavior.  An ex once tried to force me to stop wearing a piece of jewelry given to me by another ex-boyfriend. It wasn’t something that held any emotional significance — just a piece of jewelry I liked, had picked out myself and had been wearing every day for years. He demanded I take it off. When I refused, he flipped out, threatened to break up with me, and then said: “It’s either me or the ring.” I told him I didn’t do ultimatums, that it was an inappropriate demand and that his behavior was controlling. He had no choice but to let it go, but looking back, that was an early red flag.

When men lose their temper in extreme ways over small things on a regular basis it can function as a control mechanism, forcing you to walk on eggshells around him. My ex did a lot of freaking out and storming off early in our relationship over things that felt completely ridiculous to me. He often seemed out of control when angry, screaming things at me that made no sense. If your partner seems to have a kind of “Jekyll and Hyde” personality  – meaning that he displays extreme personality changes, rendering him like a totally different person — it’s a bad sign. It’s also common to most abusive relationships. Being hypersensitive and overreacting is a way abusers can control you (by provoking a response) and force you to try to cater to their mood swings.

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  • shybookworm

    I’m ashamed to say this but as I was reading through this article, my first reaction was to be like, well, this guy as she’s describing him isn’t that bad. But then I realized almost immediately that’s because I’ve gone through these situations so often myself that they’ve become normal or commonplace to me, which is a problem. This is one of the reasons why I stopped dating a couple of years ago–I want to be better in discerning who are good men and what is a good relationship, and also feel comfortable getting the respect and love I deserve. I realized that I wasn’t getting alot of good men because I didn’t believe I deserved them. Alot of this stems from childhood trauma–if you’re told you’re nothing and no one will love you, sometimes you believe that and act that out. I’m healing now though and even the small changes I’ve made are helping me. I’m getting much more respect and consideration standing up for myself and calling out people who mistreat me.

    • Michelle

      Slightly off topic:
      I had read your comment and your statement about growing with verbal abuse stuck with me. Comments like this should serve as a reason why it is important for “certain comments” here on Clutch and other sites should be deleted quickly.

    • KB

      Awww I love this. Kudos to you!

  • Emma Russell

    I saw Nadezhda Vyacheslav testimony on how she got that guy to love her as she did him.Though i don’t know her, i believed her cos she said Mutton Osun a spell caster help her seen it happen. I didn’t believe her cos she used a spell i believed her cos she made mention of a mutual spell caster i know of that is mutton Osun. I have also see a lot of testimony about his work on the the internet on blog pages and so on. I literally took a lip of faith to contact him and it turn out that it paid off. In my own case i didn’t ask that him to make anyone fall in love with me or ask that my cheating wife comes back. This time i was at fault i messed up.Will really like to say it was an honest mistake or a few hours or days of weakness but then i will be insulting my wife and the love i feel for her. I was in full control of what i was doing i had the choice not to cheat but i still did. She didn’t find out by herself i told hoping if i told her how sorry i am and how much i still love and want to be with her despite my betray she will forgive completely. It was the biggest mistake of my life maybe i should not have told her, i guess she would have still found out if she didn’t catch me then i bet the other lady would have told her what was going on to destroy what me and my wife had. It was obvious my betray really hurt her i could she it in her eye and i was really sorry. That is why i wasn’t so surprise when she asked that we go our separate ways. There and then i realized that i was following the part that ruined my life and my family. I literally lead four month of my life in misery. I have never felt like i needed her like i had felt begging was not an option nothing was an option cos she was gone. It was right about that time Mutton Osun came into the picture or when i asked that he help me get my wife to love as she did before. I was able to provide the items he asked that i get for the spell and send then down to him. Like Nadezhda Vyacheslav said “the spell does become effective at once that ” she was right also cos just after i did what Mutton Osun asked me to do with what he sent me, it took 7 days before anything happened i even thought for a minute that i had met a fake spell caster but in the end i am happy with my wife again. We going to be renewing our vows on the 20th of September. I was on the edge of become a walking dead a woman with nothing to live for thank my star Mutton Osun helped. I will also leave his contact for those who thing he can help them { [email protected] }