The following signs often occur before the actual abuse and may serve as clues to potential abuse:
- Did he grow up in a violent home? People who grow up in families where they have been abused as children, or where they have witnessed a parent abusing the other parent, have grown up learning that violence is normal behavior.
- Does he tend to use force or violence to “solve” his problems? A young man who has a criminal record for violence, who gets into fights, or who likes to act tough is likely to act the same way with his wife and children. Does he have a quick temper? Does he overreact to little problems and frustrations? Is he cruel to animals? Does he punch walls or throw things when he’s upset? Any of these behaviors may be a sign of a person who will work out bad feelings with violence.
- Does he use alcohol or drugs? While substance abuse does not cause abuse, there is a strong link between violence and problems with drugs and alcohol. Be alert to his possible drinking/drug problems, particularly if he refuses to admit that he has a problem, or refuses to get help. Do not think that you can change him.
- Does he have strong traditional ideas about what a man should be and what a woman should be? Does he think that a woman should stay at home, take care of her husband, and follow his wishes and order?
- Is he jealous of your relationships, not just with other men that you may know, but also with other women friends and your family? Does he keep tabs on you? Does he want to know where you are at all times?
- Does he have access to guns, knives, or other lethal instruments? Does he talk of using them against people to threaten or get even?
- Does he expect you to follow his orders or advice? Does he become angry if you do not fulfill his wishes or if you cannot anticipate what he wants?
- Does he go through extreme highs and lows, almost as though he is two different people? Is he extremely kind one time, and extremely cruel at others?
- When he gets angry, do you fear him? Do you find that not making him angry has become a major part of your life? Do you do what he wants you to do, rather than what you want to do?
- Does he treat you roughly? Does he physically force you to do what you do not want to do?