Red Flags: How to Recognize Abuse and Abusers

Here is another overdue conversation: Recognizing red flags within rapists, batterers and abusive relationships. There is not enough information out there about this topic, so I am presenting more right here.


Characteristics of Abuse and Abusers:

1.Objectifies victim by calling him/her names, animals, etc.

2.Tries to isolate the partner

3.Acts one way with the partner and another way when they are around other people

4.May have legal problems

5.Bad temper

6.Verbal abuse

7.Regularly threatened to leave or told the victim to leave

8.Punished or deprived children when he/she was angry

9.Threatened to kidnap the children or hurt the children if the victim left

10.Abused pets

11.Destroyed possessions and photographs

12.Told victim about his/her affairs

13.Manipulated victim with lies and contradictions

14.Comes from a family where violence was practiced (70% of abusers)

15.Denies severity of abuse

16.Drives the victim away, then does whatever they have to do to get the victim back again

17.The pattern is cyclical. There is no lasting change.

18.Low self esteem

19.Fosters dependence

20.May believe in traditional sex roles and gender types

21.95% are male, 5% are female

22.Abusers come from all socio-economic levels, educational and ethnic/racial backgrounds and types of lifestyles

23.Blames victim for perceived injuries to self.

24.Is unwilling to turn victim loose

25.Is obsessed with victim.

  1. Is hostile/angry/furious.

27.Appears to be distraught.

28.Is extremely jealous, blaming, victim for all types of promiscuous behavior.

29.Has perpetrated previous incidents of significant violence.

30.Has killed or injured pets.

31.Has made threats.

32.Is threatening suicide.

  1. Has threatened suicide in the past.

34.Has access to guns or other weapons.

35.Uses/is addicted to alcohol.

36.Uses/is addicted to/sells Amphetamines, speed, cocaine, crack, or other drugs.

  1. Has thought/desires of hurting partner.
  2. Has no desire to stop violence/controlling behavior
  3. Relationship is extremely tense. Volatile.
  4. wants to injure victim, even when she is pregnant and/or has just delivered a baby.


Physical Abuse (includes, but is not limited to):


-Held to keep from leaving

-Slapped, kicked, chocked, bit, punched or hit

-Thrown objects

-Locked in the house/room

-Abandonded in dangerous places

-Refused help when sick, injured or pregnant

-Drove recklessly

-Forced off the road or kept from driving


-Threatened with a weapon

-Hurt with a weapon


Sexual abuse (includes, but not limited to):

-Told anti-men/anti-women jokes or made demeaning remarks about men/women

-Treated men/women as sex objects

-Insisted on unwanted and uncomfortable touching

-Withheld sex and affection

-Forced him/her to perform some type of sex

-Forced him/her to watch pornography


Spiritual Abuse (very rarely recognized, but including and not limited to):

-use religion to justify abuse

-insults victim’s religion


Emotional Abuse (vary rarely recognized, but includes and not limited to):

-Ignored feelings

-Ignored the victim

-Intimidating victim by using looks, actions, loud voices, gestures, body positioning, smashing or destroying property, hurting pets

-Limits phone calls

-Limits social life and contact with the outside world

-Keeps victim from doing activities he/she likes

-Invades his/her privacy

-Limits his/her personal space

-Threatens to report victim to DCFS, immigration, etc.

-Putting victim down in front of family and friends

-Ridiculed or insulted men/women as a group

-Ridiculed or insulted most valued beliefs, religion, race, heritage, or class

-Withheld approval, appreciation, or affection for punishment

-Continually criticized called names, shouted at

-Insulted or drove away friends and family


Economic abuse (including, but not limited to):

-Keeping the victim from getting or keeping a job

-Giving the victim an allowance

-Making the victim ask for money

-Taking the victim’s money

-Controlling all the finances

-Spending money on himself/herself and withholding money for family needs

-Kept from working, controlled money, made all the decisions

-Took car keys or money away


This information is from Escape the Abuse: Leaving Smart by Intermedia, Seattle, Washington.


If you find yourself in any of these situations, get help and get out.



-The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker


-The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans


-National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)


-RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)


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