8 Behaviors That Unmask Abusive People (and how to avoid the trap)

8 Behaviors That Unmask Abusive People (and how to avoid the trap)

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He’s your prince charming, or she’s your baby doll, yet you don’t know someone until you’ve been with them for a while. The “honeymoon” phase of any relationship brings out the best in everyone. However, abusive people often hide behind a façade and can make you think they’re the ones you’ve been waiting for your whole life.

How do you go from being so in love and wanting to spend every waking moment together to abuse one another physically and verbally? For some, it’s an altercation or disagreement over a simple matter that brings out the inner monster. However, others watch things change and spiral out of control over time.

These Eight Negative Behaviors Reveal Abusive People

Women are predominantly the victims of abuse, but this is not always the case. According to a study conducted by Mankind Initiative, one in four women will be victims, and one in six men. It’s easy to see that this is a very prevalent issue for men too. Sadly, it’s not easy to spot an abuser, as they look like everyday people.

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The real issue is that by the time you spot abusive people, they’ve already entangled you into their web, and you’re doing their bidding. Here are some ways that you can help to spot abusers and save yourself the heartache.

1. Abusive People Are Irritable and Moody

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It’s hard to gauge their mood because one minute they love you, and the next, you’re the scum of the earth. They blame you whenever things go wrong, and it seems you’re the cause of much drama. They need a scapegoat so that they can rid their guilt.

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Someone who is an abuser will do things to hurt you physically and emotionally, and they will apologize for their misdeed later. A genuine relationship is where you tell each other how important you are to one another each day.

If someone is in love with you, they will retain those feelings no matter what happens. When someone picks and chooses the days they have feelings, it’s toxic. You don’t have to walk on eggshells with anyone, so you must love yourself enough to get out.

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2. They Have Extreme Jealousy

A little bit of jealousy in a relationship is a good thing. You want your spouse to be eager to fight for you and don’t want anyone else to flirt. However, extreme jealousy takes things to a whole other level.

According to Psychology Today, extreme jealousy is morbid and pathological. It believes that you have possession over a person. Berit Brogaard D.M.Sci., Ph.D. explains in this article that it’s an irrational emotion and comes with mental health concerns.

Someone who is pathologically jealous is dangerous. They will do anything in their power to keep someone from having their partner, even murder. The core of this issue is typically over conceivable sexual unfaithfulness, but it’s usually the one pointing the finger that has the problem.

3. Abusive People Use Gaslighting Tactics

Gaslighting tactics are one of the most preferred methods to use for an emotional abuser. These tricks allow you to mess with someone’s mind, and it’s so subtle they don’t recognize what’s happening. The abusive person can make you doubt yourself, your actions, and even things you’ve said.

Since they can mess up your reality and cause you to believe an alternative version of any issue, they’re dangerous. Eventually, you will stop trusting your judgment and may even think you’re losing your mind. Sadly, they camouflage themselves as a do-gooder, but their false help is going to send you over the edge.

4. An Abusive Person Will Demand You Check In

You go to visit your parents. You’re enjoying a nice dinner with your folks when your phone rings. It’s your spouse; they’re angry because you didn’t check in to let them know you arrived. It’s only been an hour since you left the house, but already the calls are starting to flood in.

Throughout the evening, you can’t enjoy yourself. The calls and texts come every 15 minutes or so. They want to keep tabs on you, even at one point wanting to talk to your mother to verify that you’re with her. They don’t trust you, and making you check in constantly is a way to control you.

While it’s acceptable to tell your partner you’ve arrived safely, it’s never okay for them to control the evening worrying about your whereabouts. This person doesn’t trust you, and it’s not your issue; it’s theirs.

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5. Their Thinking Is All or Nothing

Someone who thinks in terms of right or wrong misses the small nuances in life. Have you ever heard the saying that it’s their way or the highway? They can’t fathom that someone else might have the answer or an opinion on a matter.

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This person likes to control things, and if you challenge them with your views, things can get nasty. This person probably believes that seeing anything in shades of gray is only making excuses. Though this individual appears to live by a high moral compass, it’s only an act.

6. They Use Their Affection as A Weapon

When you don’t behave or do what abusive people want, they will likely withhold affection. They like to punish their victims, and the easiest way to accomplish this is by withholding intimacy and affection. The intimate matters in a relationship should never be used against one another.

Sure, there are times when one party doesn’t feel like romance, but this type of withholding is different. If you don’t do what they want, they will stop speaking, won’t hug you, refuse to say, “I love you,” and might even sleep on the couch. It’s a way of control that you don’t have to subject yourself to.

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7. Abusive People Like to Pick Fights

Abusers are particularly good at starting an argument with you for no good reason. They don’t care who wins or loses the fight; they want to provoke you to anger. You may find that you tiptoe around them because you don’t want to start an argument.

If you must live in fear, then you’re not living. Consequently, in these situations, you will likely end up apologizing to settle the issue. In most cases, you have no reason to be sorry.

8. They Love to Humiliate You

Verbal abuse is not okay. Sadly, someone who is abusive physically and emotionally often starts with verbal slams. They may say things in jest, trying to play it off as a joke, but it’s not funny if they’re saying something to hurt or discredit you.

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These comments may be in public when others are watching, or they may be behind closed doors. It’s easy to see they don’t respect you, and they think of you as inferior to themselves. Sadly, even if you get upset, ask them to stop, or threaten to leave, most won’t stop.

Seven Things You Can Do If You’re a Victim of Abuse

If you didn’t see the warning signs, and now you’re in a horrible situation, you do have a few things you can do. Many times, folks in these situations feel helpless and don’t know which way to turn. Here are some things you can do to get help.

  1.  Leave! Even if it means that you take only the clothes on your back, it’s better than staying in an abusive situation.
  2.  Confront the abuser and ask them to get counseling and help, or you’re leaving.
  3.  Most cities across this country have some protection set up for those in domestic violence situations. By calling 1-800-799-SAFE, an advocate can help you get to safety. They’re open 24 hours a day and seven days a week for your protection.
  4.  Ask a loved one or friend to help you get out. You may need to do this when the other person is at work or away for a few hours.
  5. Call the local police department for help. Make a report of any abuse that leaves marks on you. If they threaten to kill or hurt you, then make sure it’s down in a statement.
  6. Document everything! Should you ever need to go to court, having pictures and statements from events will go well in your favor?
  7. File a Civil Protection Order against them. Most states have free legal services that will help you to file a CPO against someone who hurt you. This paper will allow an officer to arrest them if they come within five hundred feet of you.

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Final Thoughts on Spotting Abusive People and Unmasking Their Deception

When dealing with abusive people, you always must be two steps ahead. The best way to prevent a situation like this is to be proactive in unmasking behaviors that make you uncomfortable.

If you watch closely, abusive people will mess up. Before you start exchanging keys to your home or asking them to get married, you need to get to know someone. Long engagements are often favorable as it gives your special someone a chance to show their true colors.

According to National Statistics, every minute across this country, 20 people are abused by someone they love. The numbers are too high to ignore, and if you need help, there are resources available.

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Deborah is a full-time editor, blogger, and children's book author. Her book series helps children with anxiety overcome the challenges in everyday life using kindness and courage. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Secondary Education English and a Spanish minor from the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. When she's not working on one of her many writing projects, you will find Deborah working in her herb garden. She is currently completing her master herbalist certification and can't wait to share the knowledge.

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