Tony A. Gaskins Jr. once offered vital advice for all human beings to contemplate: “Just because a person doesn’t put hands on you doesn’t mean they aren’t abusive. Abuse is control, blatant disrespect, and also hurtful words. Don’t settle for emotional abuse, thinking it’s okay because it’s not physical.” Indeed, abusive people aren’t always easy to see or detect, even though many individuals are naïve enough to think that this isn’t the case. As per psychotherapist Amy Lewis Bear, “Abusers can be highly skilled at projecting an attractive image that convinces others they have solid personal values and wouldn’t be capable of abuse. An abuser’s thoughtful and caring behavior toward others gives their victims more reason to take the blame.” It’s important to remember that virtually all abusers are also husbands, wives, coworkers, or bosses. Please read the following list so you’ll be better equipped to recognize abuse when it’s happening to you or someone else around you.
#1: Abusers only seem like regular people.
One of the biggest things that separates abusers from normal human beings is their innate ability to pretend like everything is normal when this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, even if abusers do show signs of financial difficulty or substance abuse, this can actually take the focus away from their abusive tendencies even more because society labels them as simply irresponsible or careless. However, sometimes when an abusive human being unjustly blames another person then they can expose themselves. As author Steven Stosny reveals, “Avoid anyone who blames his negative feelings and bad luck on someone else. Feeling like victims, they see themselves as justified in whatever retaliation they enact and whatever compensation they take. Blamers will certainly cause pain for you if you come to love one.”
#2: Abusers may only abuse one person in their life.
There’s a misconception that an abusive individual will abuse the majority of people who they interact with. Yet, if you think about it, this is highly unreasonable and improbable, and the truth is that many abusers only abuse one particular person. If abusers abused absolutely everyone, someone would surely put an end to their abuse of anyone—so abusers know that they have to choose their victims both wisely and in moderation. Most often abusers choose to victimize people who are most closest to them, such as their partner, a best friend, or a family member.
#3: Abusers may only abuse sporadically.
Again, if abusers victimize someone over and over again every day, then chances are that person will eventually seek intervention and the abuse will be put to an end. With this in mind, abusers must abuse in moderation, just as they must abuse a relatively small number of people in total in order to avoid detection or exposure. Manipulation or gaslighting are usually effective techniques for abusers to employ and perfect, but of course, some resort to violence as well. WebMD reminds us that abusers, “may have elaborate excuses for these incidents or blame the person they attacked by saying they ‘had to’ or that they ‘were provoked.’”
#4: Abusers force relationships.
Since a partner is often the easiest person for an abuser to victimize, abusers are always quick to form and solidify romantic relationships whenever it’s possible to do so. And even though an abuser will do everything in their power to force or compel their partner to stay in the abusive relationship, if they manage to leave then it becomes imperative for the abuser to enter into another relationship immediately. However, abusers often expose themselves—or finally admit to being what they are—when they know that a relationship has ended, or that their abuse and power has ended. It’s important to remember this to eliminate any chance of being lured back into a relationship with an abuser months or even years down the road.
#5: Abusers use their voice as a weapon.
Abusers often deepen or sharpen their voice in order to communicate to their victim that their question—or recommendation—is actually an order. Picking-up on this once might not mean anything, but if you notice a distinct pattern then it is a clear sign of abusive behaviour.
#6: Abusers use their touch as a weapon.
Physical abuse doesn’t always involve hitting, bruises, or blood; abusive human beings will often touch their victim on the shoulder, gently squeeze their hand, or firmly nudge them in order to communicate orders or control. Again, watch out for patterns.
#7: Abusers are always apologizing.
This isn’t a clear sign of abuse on its own, but if you notice that someone apologizes for things on a regular basis, it’s definitely a sign to watch a little more closely for further indications and clarification.
#8: Abusers have powerful glances and gestures.
Abusers frequently use these as weapons as well. Keep track of facial gestures and eye movements in particular, and lookout for patterns as always.
#9: Abusers are relentless.
This is similar to how a child ends up getting what they want by constantly asking and bugging their parents for it endlessly. The repercussions are far more serious in this case—so speak-up or call-out if you every witness abuse.