Whenever people enter into romantic relationships, they always hope to live happily ever after. They expect a picture-perfect life full of bottomless love and endless laughter. For some, falling in love actually does end up being like a fairytale, even when things get a little rocky. For others however, relationships can turn into a nightmare of misery thanks to domestic abuse. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an average of 20 people in the United States are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute. This translates into 10 million women and men being victimized by acts of hostile aggression from a trusted partner, every year.

Don’t be a Sitting Duck:

These statistics are nothing short of a national tragedy. They should serve as a clear warning that each person must be cautious about who they let into their lives through romantic involvement. In a perfect world, everyone would understand how to treat significant others with respect and dignity. Unfortunately, there are countless people with abusive tendencies wreaking havoc daily on their unsuspecting partners, one dysfunctional relationship after another. In the best case scenario, couples in abusive relationships end up parting ways for good. In the worst case scenario – victims of abuse end up injured, or even die. While humanity might not be able to eliminate domestic abuse at the snap of a finger, there are ways that people can protect themselves from abusive partners before the situation gets extreme. It all starts with keeping an eye out for the warning signs of abuse:

1.       Possessiveness:

Abusive people struggle to cope with uncertainty. When stability is introduced into their lives through a significant other, they will resort to extreme behavior to keep hold of this stability by attempting to control their partner at all costs. Severe possessiveness is a red flag that a partner will become aggressive and hostile in future.

2.       Disrespect:

If your partner demonstrates constant disrespect to people during the early stages of a relationship, especially people of lower social standing, that disrespect will ultimately become aimed at you once your relationship becomes familiar.

3.       No Accountability:

It’s a sign of emotional maturity when people are capable of admitting they’re wrong, and taking responsibility for their actions. If you have a partner who constantly blames others or they instinctively project their frustrations onto scapegoats, that’s a sign that they don’t know how to resolve conflict rationally. When the time comes for them to disagree with you, they will fight tooth and nail merely to avoid making any compromises.

4.       Jealously:

Jealously is a natural human instinct when it comes to romantic relationships. But if your partner’s jealously also includes insecurity about platonic and family connections, that’s a giant red flag. Abusive people make gradual attempts to manipulate their partners into abandoning all others for the sake of their relationship.

5.       Physical Intimidation:

Sometimes, a partner’s abusive tendencies manifest in plain sight. If your significant other is physically forceful or physically emotive, that’s a sign that they will become physically violent in future. Pay attention to events like banging tables or punching walls. Be aware of whether they respect your body or your personal space, especially when they’re in a bad mood. Physical aggression while they’re trying to win you over means that things will get much worse when they stop trying to impress you.

There are many more signs that a partner could potentially become abusive in future, however if you notice any combination of these five traits in a significant other, have the courage to remove yourself from the relationship and live free of sadness. The longer you hesitate, or the more time goes by while you ignore your doubts, the more entitled the abuser will feel to take possession of your freedom. You owe it to yourself, and the people who truly love you, never to allow a destructive person to rob you of your confidence and self-respect.