When they first flutter across your path, red flags are so small and benign, you may hardly notice them. In hindsight, you may swear at yourself for not paying attention to them because of what they later reveal. Red flags are subtle signals that show up when something is not quite right. They vary by type and extent across every kind of relationship.

The bad news is, they’re counter-intuitive; that is, your age, logic and intuition will not serve you. The good news is, the warning signs can be learned and this knowledge will serve you from now on.

We don’t see red flags because we’re having too much fun falling in love or making money or chasing a promise or whatever. We don’t see red flags because we’re not looking for them and because they may be so well hidden that they don’t look like warning signs. Live and learn.

Where red flags wave, nothing is as it seems. Since abuse can only begin once the victim is entrapped, abusers must be masters of deceit. They must succeed in getting you enrolled or entrapped first. They must be careful to conceal their true nature.

Some of the most successful abusers have been extremely glib, handsome, charming and helpful. They go to great lengths to engage you. The more sophisticated the abuser, the more expertly hidden his agenda. Some red flags are camouflaged, some are hidden in plain sight, none of them look particularly dangerous unless you know what you’re looking at.

The overriding goal of an abuser is absolute and complete control. Every lie he tells, every story he makes up, every look he gives you, every reason he uses, every excuse he offers, every manipulation he orchestrates, every demand he makes, every posture he assumes—every one is employed to get power over you and then to subjugate and weaken you.

In the beginning, the seduction feels like the silky soft caress of love and protection from the most wonderful man in the world. Everything he does reassures you and resonates within you. He pays keen attention to what you do, where you go, what you say, how you feel. When you become aware of his close attention to the details of your life you’re touched. In the name of love, he steps in to help you with this or that. And this is how he begins to get control over your life—your lifestyle, routines, thoughts and emotions. First, he monitors you. He may hover and smother, or he may watch from a distance. Then, he slowly moves in to take control of what he’s monitored.

For however many shining weeks or months it goes like this, you bask in the warmth of this exquisite interest. Then, slowly, the caress becomes uncomfortably intense; it begins to feel like something else, but you’re not sure what. You realize his attention has become stronger and more purposeful. By this time, you may be married to or living with him. You may also be becoming financially dependent on or financially weakened by him—or both.

Things that should be simple are getting complicated; things that should be accepted are requiring long explanation and justification. You may find yourself thinking, “this is ridiculous.”

You could say he’s taking over your reality. You seem to encounter opposition over anything you want to do away from him. The simplest things are obstructed. You ask, you explain, you argue. You lose every argument because there is no level playing field and the rules are all unknown.

It seems you must ask permission for everything. Something is in motion but you don’t know what. This is not what you thought it was. Then by and by, you find yourself going along with the preference he’s stated and the routines he’s arranged because he tells you that they’re all for the relationship. If you resist the changes he wants to make, he assures you he knows best, the changes are for your own good or the good of the relationship. He even says that if you really loved him you’d defer to his wishes. If this doesn’t work, he asks you to cooperate with him. If you still resist, he finds ways to force you—and they are vicious.

Once he has achieved adequate control over you, the real show begins. He wields control with a wry smile and brute force. You don’t have a moment to yourself. Your days are filled with endless mind-numbing chores, errands, minutiae and the all-important caretaking of him; all done under his watchful eye. And always, an incomprehensible hostility lurks under the surface threatening to attack if you don’t acquiesce, behave, comply, obey, perform, submit.

The danger here is not just the taking over of your practical life, but the taking over of your mental life. Repetition affects brain function. Consistent control and domination changes your thought patterns in ways that are not unlike hypnosis and works like sabotage because they plant false beliefs that grossly limit who and what you are.

With time, your brain accepts what it is fed and you are under not just physical and financial control, but mental control, too.

If he lets you take a phone call, he stands nearby and starts giving you the “wind-it-up” signal after just a few minutes.

If he lets you use the computer, he appears every 15 minutes asking if you’re done yet or simply telling you “that’s enough”.

If you want to leave the house, see family or friends, use the car or have some money, you will have to make a case and then you will have to ask.

You rein yourself in. You ask for less and less. The walls start closing in. In addition to the petty controls he institutes over your daily life, the straightjacket he wraps around you thwarts every healthy, natural inclination you have to flee. You stifle every scream of protest and resistance because you realize you are not safe and you are dealing with a person who is unpredictable.
If the warning signs were easy to see and the agenda was easy to escape, this would not be happening to millions of women and girls every year. Find out how to protect yourself from this life-shattering plague.

To learn more, go to www.relationshipredflags.com

Author's Bio: 

A passionate advocate of the entrepreneur and the individual Anna Moss has worked as a freelance writer for growing companies since 1991. During 17 years in the Pacific Northwest, Anna worked as a certified vendor with Microsoft contributing to print and online content read by millions worldwide. When not documenting software, she worked at refurbishing a horse farm in the Cascade foothills. She also rescued cats and dogs, raised horses, hiked, hosted bonfires and dinner parties.

Anna’s life has been shaped by fortuitous events, happy accidents as well as by loss and tragedy. These experiences taught her the value of imagining the future and overcoming adversity. They also showed her the enormous capacity for good in the world and resilience in the individual. Her experience at the hands of a master abuser has been her greatest test. Her response is her first book: RELATIONSHIP RED FLAGS—TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES.

Inquiries welcome: www.relationshipredflags.com and anna@relationshipredflags.com