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Warning Signs

How can we spot the key warning signs and persona of an abusive person???

If we have been in an abusive relationship, we may feel that we would know the warning signs straight away, if a new partner was also abusive.  But everyone is different, and we may not know!  For example, if our previous relationship was categorised by physical abuse, we may not recognise the signs of a coercively controlling person, and vice versa.

Some of the women who have completed my Freedom Programmes have told me that when they met a new partner, they went to the police station and asked to make a Claire’s Law application.  This can be a good way of finding out if your new boyfriend/girlfriend has ever been reported to the police for abusive behaviour.  It may also be easier to end a relationship early on if we have the knowledge of previous abusive behaviour, rather than later on when other factors and/or emotions may make it more difficult to end the relationship.

However, it is important to note that we know that many women never report the abuse to the Police or any other organisation.  That being the case, a Claire’s Law application would come back clear!  So let’s take a look below at some early warning signs you may see in each of ‘The Dominator’s’ persona.

Early Bully

He may go quiet for a while if we disagree with something he says or does.  He may use the body language of The Bully.  Watch out for tapping fingers, folded arms and swinging feet!  He may tell us very early on in the relationship that he would never hit a woman.  Ask yourself – why would he need to tell us this at all?

Early Jailer

This is a difficult one to see unless you have done The Freedom Programme or read the book.  A lot of the warning signs for the Jailor may be seen as being romantic or loving.  We may feel that he is just so in love with us, he can’t bear to be apart.  For example, we may say we are going to see a friend and he may insist that he drops us off and picks us up.  He may genuinely be trying to be helpful and caring.  BUT he may be making sure we are going where we say we are and that there is not a man there!  He will say he doesn’t want us to work because “you don’t have to.  I will provide for you”.  He may want to see us every day and come round at times when we are not expecting him.

Early Headworker

The Headworker is coercively controlling.  So subtle that it is difficult to see it until it is too late!  He may put us down in front of other people but will always use humour to do it.  He may make insulting comments about our appearance under the guise of a compliment.  For example – “You would look so much prettier if you lost a little weight”!  He may make sexist, racist or homophobic jokes.

Early Persuader

He could make us feel sorry for him.  He will try to persuade us to do something he knows we don’t like and don’t want to do.  He could buy food that he knows we don’t like and try to persuade us to eat it.  He may say he would kill himself rather than not be in a relationship with us!

Early Liar

He may tell us his previous partner was a bitch and will now not let him see his children.  *Warning – if someone tells you they have children but they aren’t allowed to see them, there is usually a very good reason why!!*  He will use minimisation and use the only word.  For example he may say something hurtful to us then say “It was only a joke!” or “I did hit her once but it was only a slap and it was her fault because she was drunk!”  To learn more about The Liar, link to this page – Rules of the Game.

Early Bad father

As mentioned above, the Bad father may not have contact with his own children.  He may be overly attentive and friendly with our children, buying them presents and treats.  He may, very quickly, make himself indispensable.  He may provide us with financial support and practical help.  This is very hard to resist if we have been struggling to manage time and/or finances on our own.  But equally as quickly, he may start dispensing discipline.  He may tell our children off or take things from them if they are naughty.

Early Kind of the Castle

He may start leaving his clothes and other belonging at our house.  He will begin to choose our clothes but in very subtly ways.  For example, he may say “You look lovely in that dress but don’t you think it would even more lovely if it was a little bit longer?”  He may offer to do household chores for us but do them so badly that we don’t actually want him to do them, so we do them ourselves.

Early Sexual Controller

He will want to have sex very early on in the relationship and get upset or sulk if we say No.  When we do have sex with him, he may only have regard in satisfying himself and not care about how we feel.  He won’t communicate with us whilst having sex.  He refuses to wear a condom.

These warning signs will not be obvious or happen all at once.  They will come in clusters.  They will not exhibit one sign, but several at a time.  We may not be sure how we feel about it.  We may feel uncomfortable and choose to ignore our uneasiness.  However, women who have done the Freedom Programme have said that after doing the programme, they take these uneasy feelings very seriously.

Good luck!  Trust your instincts but remember – not every man is abusive!

  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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