What are the early warning signs of abusive behaviour in a relationship? Here are 10 abusive behaviour red flags to watch for, especially in Indian families.
This list of red flags in relationships can indicate potential abusive behaviour and many of these red flags in relationships are the signs of a narcissist or potential abuser.
Fact: You can spot signs of abusive behaviour or red flags in relationships well before marriage.
If you see any signs of these red flags in men or guys you’re dating, or in their families, you should take it as a warning sign to avoid getting into a relationship or marriage with a potential abuser.
Why do women tolerate abusive behaviour in a relationship? What is it that makes us feel we have no other option but to suffer in silence, often for years at a time?
How bad does it have to get before we realise that this man and their family are abusers and do not care for us and our kids? Why does it take so long for us to walk out of an abusive marriage?
Abusers are basically bullies. An abuser is not capable of respect or love. They don’t care for you – they only care about establishing their power over you, manipulating you and subjugating you to their will.
The more you tolerate, the more the abuser knows they have you in their trap, the less they will respect you, and the worse the abuse will get.
And women can be just as abusive as men. In fact, mothers-in-law are some of the most abusive people there are, just because they feel entitled to behave that way, and Indian society condones it.
People live for years with their abusers, sleep in their bed, give them children, and only when they’ve taken every shred of their dignity, do they fight back. When do you say enough is enough?!
If you want to stop an abuser, you need to realize the ways in which you’re contributing to the situation – namely by tolerating it.
The fact is, you can spot signs of abusive behaviour well before marriage. So what is abusive behaviour in a relationship? And how can we spot the early warning signs of an abuser?
10 Abusive Behaviour Signs Or Red Flags In Relationships
Whether you’re marrying for love or going in for an arranged marriage, there are a number of red flags or early signs of abusive behaviour to look for – in your partner and their family – before you decide to take the plunge.
So, what is abusive behaviour in a relationship? How do you spot an abusive boyfriend? Here are some of the red flags or early warning signs of an abuser to watch out for, especially if you’re marrying into an Indian family.
1. How do your partner’s parents treat each other?
Our parents are our primary role models and we grow up observing how they treat each other. Unless we make a conscious effort not to be like our parents, a man will usually end up behaving like his father and a woman like her mother.
Most of us do this without even realizing it because it happens at a subconscious level. Watch closely and observe how your partner’s parents treat each other. Do they talk to each other with respect and treat each other with affection?
If you notice disrespectful or abusive talk, there’s something rotten there, and you need to get away from them as soon as possible or you’ll end up recreating the same dynamic in your own relationship.
2. Do they respect women?
Some Indian families will put up a pretence of respecting women and pay lip service to support you in your career, but once you’ve crossed their threshold, you’ll be relegated to the job of “maid and baby factory”.
Listen to the members of your partner’s family carefully before you say yes to marriage. If you look closely enough, you’ll see shades of disrespect in their attitude towards women.
Ignore this at your peril. If you notice any disrespectful talk about how independent women or feminists are ruining families, run for the hills.
3. Do they prefer boys to girls?
Do they show a marked preference for the boy child? You can be sure you’ll face the dreaded pressure to produce a male heir as soon as the glow of the honeymoon wears off.
Watch closely to see how they treat kids of each gender, and if you notice anything disturbing, say NO, dear girl! You have the right to refuse to marry into a family that you know will make you (and your children) miserable.
4. Do they treat “dark” people badly?
Indians are so racist, it’s not funny how many families are concerned that their child or grandchild should be “fair”, even if they themselves are not.
Are your partner and their family colour conscious? Do they keep mentioning how “fair and beautiful” someone is? Do they treat people with a darker complexion than theirs with disgust and loathing?
Heaven help you if you produce a child that is anything but fair, in their eyes! You’ll be treated to insults, blame and worse.
5. Are they an addict?
Does your abusive boyfriend need to consume that quarter of booze every day in order to function? Does he show a tendency to do drugs, watch disturbing porn, have sexual fetishes that make you uncomfortable?
Leave them at the altar and run as fast as your legs can carry you, before the fallout of their depravities damages your self-esteem (and the lives of any kids you might have had together).
6. Are they demanding “gifts”?
Because asking for dowry outright is against the law in India, the boy’s family will often make subtle demands for “gifts”, and these demands will get louder, more strident and abusive as the marriage approaches.
The first time you hear a request for a car or household appliance, you must report the groom’s family to the police or drop them like a hot potato. If not, you just might end up as another dowry death statistic once their demands increase.
7. Are they insecure and controlling?
An abusive boyfriend who is insecure is more likely to try to control you and your actions in an attempt to make themselves feel more comfortable.
Does your partner forbid you from talking to members of the opposite sex? Do they prevent you from being on social media? Do they try to hack your emails or keep tabs on your phone calls?
These are classic signs of controlling behaviour. If you give in to their control, writing off their jealousy as a sign of how much they want and need you, it will only get worse, until one day you find you have no freedom left.
If you find your abusive boyfriend exhibiting such behaviour, either set clear boundaries early on and make it clear that you will not be controlled or leave before it gets worse.
A healthy relationship is one where both partners trust and respect each other as friends and responsible adults, not as children who need to be watched and controlled.
8. Do they disrespect or humiliate you?
This is another attempt to try to control someone and is the definition of psychological, emotional, or mental abuse. By destroying your self-confidence and self-esteem, your partner is trying to ensure that you will lack the confidence to leave them.
A lot of people remain in emotionally abusive relationships for this very reason – because their abusive partners have convinced them that they are unworthy of love and respect.
If you notice subtle put-downs and negative comments on your looks, abilities and achievements, leave this mentally abusive relationship right away. With insecure people, it never gets better.
9. Are they trying to isolate you from others?
This is classic abuser behaviour. Abusers want to ensure that you have no one else to turn to for help when they do get abusive.
So they’ll slowly but surely start isolating you from your friends and family. They’ll get enraged if you reach out to anyone else to talk about your problems.
Indian families condone and enable such behaviour by calling their daughters “paraya dhan” (someone else’s wealth). Once a girl is married, they literally wash their hands off her and her problems.
Model Priyanka Kapoor Chawla, who hanged herself as a result of abuse by her husband and in-laws, stated that her abusive husband would “place a lot of restrictions on her.”
She was not allowed to meet family and friends. She was also told that “such things happen in a family and there’s no need to make an issue of it.”
This is not true. You DO need to make an issue of it! Go to the cops. Lodge a complaint against your husband and in-laws.
Create a stink as big as you can, so that you do not end up like the hundreds of thousands of women in India who face violence from their abusive husbands or in-laws.
10. Are they a mama’s boy/daddy’s girl?
If so, you’ll never match up to the standards of their flawless parent. Refuse to compete. Let them stay “married” to the mom or dad they can’t seem to individuate from. Pick up your bags and leave.
Although there are many more traits and behaviours that can help you assess your potential partner’s character, these are some of the most important early warning signs or red flags to look out for.
When assessing a life-partner, these abusive behaviours will impact you the most and lead to a lifetime of physical or emotional abuse.
The most important thing to keep in mind when sizing up a potential partner is to trust your instincts. If your intuition tells you that something is off, trust it.
Don’t second-guess yourself, make excuses for their abusive behaviour, or even give people second chances. It could cost you your sanity, or even your life.
As Maya Angelou so wisely said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.”
However, the best way to avoid getting into an abusive marriage is to become a whole and complete person in your own right.
Learn to love yourself, cherish yourself, get a career and a life of your own. Once you believe that you deserve love and respect, you’ll never settle for less!
If you need free career counselling or help to find a job, download the SHEROES app for women and get free career guidance from career coaches.
Whatever you do, become financially independent, because independence gives you the freedom to walk away from an abusive relationship anytime you want to.
Leaving an abusive relationship is never easy, so if you find yourself in an abusive relationship pattern, you can get online counselling free for help in escaping an abusive relationship.
Need free relationship counselling for leaving an abusive relationship? Connect with a professional counsellor on the AskSHEROES free online counselling chat helpline for women.
About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the Group Editor at SHEROES and author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women.
More relationship tips:
- 7 Mindset Changes You Need To Leave A Bad Relationship
- Emotional Abuse Checklist: Learn The Warning Signs Of Emotional Abuse
- Feeling Disrespected In Relationships? 7 Signs Of Disrespect In Relationships
- How To Find Domestic Violence Counselling, Helplines And Support In India
- 3 Crucial Domestic Violence Laws In India: Know Them And Protect Yourself
- How To Deal With A Bully Husband
- Toxic Relationships: How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved
- How Should We Respond To Rape And Misogyny In India?
- 10 Mindful And Dignified Ways To Shut Down Sexism In The Workplace
- Child Sexual Abuse: Healing From Incest As A Child Molestation Survivor
- How to Deal with Domestic Violence? – Your Safety is Important!
- Domestic Violence in Hindi: भारत में डोमेस्टिक वायलेंस (घरेलू हिंसा) के ऊपर संपूर्ण जानकारी
- What are the Constitutional & Legal Rights of Women In India? [Updated Sept’19]
Hi i am shabnam. I m in an abusive relation from 4th month of my marriage. It is my love marriage. We were in relation from past 5 years and decided to marry. I loved him so much. My parents warn me that he is from another cast and specifically these people do not give importance to their wifes but i have seen them giving loats of love to his sister. I thought they are living in chandigarh may be they have wide scope of loving and respecting girls. But after marriage they started fighting with me specifically my husband on 3rd day of marriage. I thought may be he is under burden. Then after a month he started roaming with his sister who is widow and leaving me behind at home. He call her everyday for 4 to 5 time and also meet her everyday. She lives near our house. But he never called me. Even when i was sick he did not gave me medicine. He dont give me money only 300 for petrol as i am working and goes on activa. He also has my credit card and debit card. When i asked him to give me. He beat me alot. I have blue marks all over my body. To that my parents came our home to warn him but he abused them too. And said that my mother is characterless so do i. My father only earns money by giving my mom to other boys. My parents also abused him by saying that you are not worth anything. And then her sister came and said donot talk to my brother like that you will not find such a brilliant son in law ever. To that my parents said that i dont want this kind of son in law. Her sister also abused them. I was shaken to listen that she is also a girl still behaving like this. My husbands family always say that i am not good. Today also he beat me. I want to die. I hate my life but i dont know why i am not ready to leave him. He smoked today and drank a lot. He promised myparents that he willnot do anything like this. I m going to commit sucide.
Hi Shabnam, Please don’t take any extreme measures. No person is worth killing yourself over. There is no shame in admitting that marrying him was a mistake. Some of the most successful people in the world have made mistakes before they achieved success. Please leave this man and start a new life on your own. You can work from home and earn a living or get a job. The main thing is to be financially independent so you are free to leave this abusive situation.
Connect to a counsellor on SHEROES and learn how to get out of this situation. https://www.naaree.com/free-online-counselling/