How to Recognize an Abusive Personality

How to Recognize an Abusive Personality

by Carrie Stemke

About Carrie Stemke

author image

A New York native, Carrie Stemke is an avid writer, editor and traveler whose work has covered many different topics. She has had a lifelong fascination with and love of psychology, and hold's a bachelor's degree in the subject. Her psychology research articles have been published in Personality and Individual Differences and in Modern Psychological Studies.

Abuse can be physical or emotional and can take many forms. It may manifest itself in domestic violence, control of your finances, or in the form of intimidation or shaming. Abusive personalities might utilize different methods, but they all want the same thing: complete control over you. The most significant indicator that you are being abused in some way is fear of your partner. Recognizing the warning signs of an abusive personality is the first step toward making a positive change. Never be afraid to ask for help. You deserve to be loved and respected.

Moving too Fast

An abusive personality will move a relationship forward very quickly. Although statements like, "I've never felt this way about anyone before" and talk of "love at first sight" might seem like something out of a Hollywood romance, a person who rushes into moving in together or getting engaged after a short time actually is showing that she doesn't know how to respect boundaries, warns family violence consultant Steven Stosny, in the article "Are You Dating an Abuser?" for Psychology Today. Think of it this way: This person cares more about her own needs, wants and feelings for you than whether or not you are comfortable with how the relationship is progressing.

Controlling Behavior

At some point, the abuser will begin exhibiting controlling behavior. According to the Women's Center at Northwestern University, if an abuser is confronted about his actions, he may tell you that he's doing it because he is concerned about you. He might be angry if you're not on time, and increasingly interrogate you about your activities. This behavior often escalates to actual control over how you look and everything you do.

Isolating You From Friends and Family

An abusive person wants to erode your relationships with your friends and family, until he's all you have left. He'll find ways to discourage you from spending time with your support network, and may even go as far as purposefully creating problems with the other people in your life to deter them from contacting you, according to the article "Domestic Abuse: Recognizing the Potential Abuser" on the WebMD website. Do not underestimate the lengths an abuser will take to make sure you're isolated. He might control your access to the phone, computer or transportation, or even continuously move around until you are no longer near anyone you know.

How to Deal With an Abusive Personality

If you're in an abusive relationship, the best thing you can do is to leave that person. If you are not ready or able to leave, however, there are still important steps you should take to shield yourself from harm. Helpguide recommends preparing for emergencies by making an escape plan and coming up with believable reasons to leave the house if you sense that your abuser is getting angry. Reinforce a positive self-image by engaging in positive affirmations to counteract the negativity of your abuser. Finally, and perhaps most important, let someone know what's going on and build a support system you can rely on. If you don't want to turn to friends and family, contact your local domestic violence shelter instead. In addition to providing a place to go, they'll give you emotional support.

If You Need Immediate Help

If you are in danger due to physical abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women at 888-7HELPLINE/888-743-5754. If you are in need of immediate assistance, call 911 or your local emergency number. If you need someplace to go, look for your local domestic violence shelter.

View Singles Near You

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images