Abusive relationships are largely invisible to the public, most of whom are illiterate about this realm of life. Acts of abuse mostly take place behind closed doors and can go on for some time before there is visual evidence. For example, you can’t tell by looking that:
• A woman was verbally savaged or raped by her husband that morning.
• She has no direct access to funds, has no money in her wallet and is being blocked in her efforts to get more or better work.
• She is allowed little or no internet access, has had her cell phone taken away and is not receiving messages from family and friends.
• She is not allowed to leave the house without permission.
Identifying the perpetrators and targets of abuse is based on a preponderance of data. That is, a woman who appears tired or withdrawn once in a while is not likely a victim of abuse. Likewise, a man, who seems a little more on edge than normal is not necessarily abusing his woman. The key to recognizing abuse rests on there being indications of some duration and intensity.
Abuse is a pattern of behavior that actually becomes a lifestyle. It leaves clues the trained eye can recognize. Often a child or animal in a violent household will show signs of abuse before an adult.
These behaviors are the norm in abusive relationships because they serve the purposes of the perpetrator. The abuser would never admit it, but he derives gratification from controlling his partner and watching her suffer.
How To Recognize An Abused Woman
Here are 12 signs of abuse in marriage and other intimate relationships:
1. Loss of interest in appearance. Deflecting attention to keep abuser at distance.
2. Revulsion of anything related to romance. Typical response to emotional abuse.
3. Avoidance of home. Reaction to abuse.
4. Pressure to excel. Response to demands from abuser.
5. Nervousness. Symptom of comprehensive exhaustion from stress.
6. Substance abuse/addiction. Self medication to dull pain and escape reality.
7. Trance-like demeanor. Symptom of emotional and mental exhaustion from abuse.
8. Overly accommodating behavior. Effort to try to keep the peace.
9. Intense need for encouragement. Natural response to assault, control and cruelty.
10. Impaired memory. Side effect of abuse and possibly subconscious escapism.
11. Difficulty concentrating. Unrelenting stress diminishes normal thought processes.
12. Worry/withdrawal. Imposed isolation intensifies suffering and will.
How To Recognize An Abusive Man
Here are seven ways to identify the perpetrators of that abuse:
1. Self centeredness. Inappropriate level of self involvement.
2. Gratification-seeking. High drive to get what he wants. Bullying to intimidation to overt threat.
3. Shallowness. Lack of maturity in emotional, intellectual, social development.
4. Criminality. Willingness to engage in wrongdoing. Juvenile delinquency to white collar.
5. Recklessness. Financial, physical, sexual, verbal.
6. Cruelty. Callousness to humans, savagery towards animals. Complete disregard for suffering.
7. Lack of conscience. Absence of morality relating to how actions affect others.
Most adults involved in abusive relationships make an effort to conceal it for distinctly different reasons: the target out of fear and shame; the perpetrator out of denial and vanity.
It’s important to understand that the most depraved abusers do what they do without consciousness of it. So, they are both unaware and without conscience, a dangerous combination. If asked, they deny and lie, often with indignation. If pressed further, they minimize and justify. If confronted, abusers often enroll others to defend their character and refute the abuse. These people wrote the book on closing rank.
Abuse exists for monumental reasons that operate beyond the reach of agency and individual. However, it can be mitigated and prevented through self action. The warning signs of abuse have been decoded and they can be learned. Over time, this knowledge can become discernment that will prevent personal suffering, business loss and public resource expenditure.
Drawing on a background in anthropology and technology Anna Moss created the Red Flags platform to deliver real-life tools for prevention and restoration to women who have experienced relationship violence.
She offers insight from the perspective of someone who lived it, worked through it, wrote about it and ultimately recovered from it.
"There is no substitute for experience, and insights from those of us fighting this war against relationship violence can open eyes and save lives."