Your Next Relationship: Loving Again After Intimate Partner Violence
It can be scary to think of dating again after leaving a relationship that was abusive. Fear of being in the same situation again, questioning ones’ judgment, and wondering if there is a way you can tell if a partner is abusive early on are all common stresses.
It is always best to be as emotionally healthy as you can when beginning a relationship. Unfortunately, abusive partners can pick up on vulnerability and may seek out women that they believe to be in vulnerable situations. Healing from your past relationship or taking steps toward healing is wise for many reasons. We are all works in progress and deserving of love.
Healing is not about “fixing” you; it is about maintenance of yourself. There is not a set time when you should date. Hopefully, it will be when you are confident, healthy, and ready.
There are signs that one can use early on to tell if a partner has unhealthy tendencies. It is true that some abusers will not show any signs upfront, but even these types of partners may speed up relationships or make steps to get you in a situation where you are dependent on them. They may be doing this with the goal in mind of making it harder to leave when they do finally exhibit these behaviors. Outlined below are some things to consider.
The NDEEV (National Network to End Domestic Violence) has put together this list compiled from survivors’ experiences that you might find helpful. These are behaviors that survivors noted from their abusive partners in the early stages of abusive relationships.
Red Flags for Abuse (Early Warning Signs)
- Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
- Does not honor your boundaries.
- Is excessively jealous and accuses you of having affairs.
- Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails and texts you throughout the day.
- Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are “crazy,” “stupid” and/or “fat,” or that no one would ever want or love you.
- Says one thing and does another.
- Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.
- Has a history of battering.
- Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their partner; for example, “my ex was a total bitch.”
- Grew up in an abusive or violent home.
- Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
- Seems “too good to be true.”
- Insists that you stop participating in leisure interests.
- Rages out of control and is impulsive.
You are never to blame if someone else chooses to harm you. It is also not your fault if you find yourself in more than one abusive relationship. It is important to note that many women try to prevent themselves from being with another abuser by putting up “walls” or sending out “signals” that keep many people at a distance. Sometimes these signals are unintentionally sent as a means of emotional defense. You may send these signals that healthy individuals honor and respect -so this could be why they are not approaching you. An abusive man may not respect these boundaries, so you may actually find yourself as a survivor of abuse getting approached by abusers as they tend to dismiss others boundaries and social cues. In regards to returning to an abuser, the average woman may make many attempts to leave an abusive relationship. This is normal. At times, the struggles a survivor faces after they leave can contribute to them returning to their abuser. We acknowledge this and hope within this blog there is information that could make this time easier and provide support for any individual going through this or who is thinking of leaving. We also have a hotline that is available for you to call 24/7 at 412-687-8005. When you call our hotline there is no judgment, just support–regardless of the stage you are in. We recommend gaining support from places that understand the cycle of abuse and the effects of trauma. Our hotline is a great place to start.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” –
Henry David Thoreau