How to spot the warning signs of domestic abuse – the traits and personas of a dominator 

Would you be able to spot the warning signs of domestic abuse? We rarely understand or believe we’re in an abusive relationship when we are. We may be aware we’re unhappy, or have a ‘gut feeling’ but we ignore it. We accept the excuses and go on believing tomorrow this will stop/it won’t happen again. It won’t stop until we stop it, we can do this by safely ending the relationship i.e. Safety Planning, engaging with support services, rebuilding our lives and regaining our FREEDOM. 

We need to stop ignoring it, respond to it and say NO MORE! 

Here’s a short video guide: ‘Warning Signs – How to Spot a Dominator’ 

Early Warning Signs

Here’s a list of early warning signs and personas of domestic abuse perpetrators. You may feel that you recognise some of them. Please note these warning signs are varied and not fully detailed here, attending Freedom Programme training, or a Freedom Programme support group or even reading the book ‘Living with the Dominator’ will give a fuller picture. Book your training now

All of the warning aigns could be read as general human behaviours which we read through the excitement of potentially falling in love with someone new. This is a hugely flattering time when we cant get enough of everything this new person does. Which is why we don’t see the beginning of controlling behaviours, often until it is much too late one way or another.

Therefore, if you are just embarking on a new relationship, watch out for these signs. They aren’t definitive; a Dominator will do these behaviours in the early stages of a relationship, but will always have a pre-set agenda, which is to gain power and control over us. Where as a decent human being may do some of the above behaviours, but there is no pre-set agenda to gain power and control over us.

If all of this is too confusing, just listen to your family and friends and most importantly listen to your instincts, if something is said or done that makes you feel uncomfortable – remove yourself from the situation and reflect on it. There will be a reason your gut feeling is prompting your thoughts – it’s your instincts.

May go quiet for a short time ie sulk, but give no explanation. May stare or glare with a bully smile; mouth smiling, eyes cold. May be aggressive to others, or bully staff in shops, bars, restaurants etc. Watch out for impatient body language such as, finger tapping, foot swinging, sighing – again without explanation. If we express an opinion the bully doesn’t agree with, will not let it go, unless we change our opinion and agree with them. May declare early in the relationship, ‘would never hit a woman’. If that were the case, we would the need to mention it at all?

These are hard to spot without having had the full training or attending a Freedom Programme group. As they can appear to be romantic gestures, such as; insists on dropping us off when we go out without them eg work, school, college, groups or social events, visiting friends etc. Can come on too strong too soon, wanting to see us every day. May buy us a mobile phone, again, too soon in the relationship. Will telephone or text too much, even when they know we’re busy. Can quiz us with a suspiscious ‘humour’ as to where we’ve been and with who. Calls round unannounced especially late in the evening. Often wont like our friends and could sow seeds of doubt in our minds by asking, “how well do you know ……?” if we ask as to why they ask, may reply, “no reason”. Tells us we don’t need to work/study. Try’s to monopolise our time. May plan a surprise special evening for us on a night when they know we usually are busy that night.

Will use sexist jokes, may also use homophobic or racist jokes too. Tends to not use our name, gives us a ‘pet’ name. Puts us down in front of others. Makes sexist remarks about women in general, will also criticise other women in front of us. Will praise others that they feel are attractive, may even ask why we don’t look like ……. Is disrespectful, will be patronising. Gives back-handed ‘compliments’ such as, “you’d look great if you lost some weight”.

Will try to make us feel sorry for them, such as; terrible previous relationship, bad childhood, not happy with current accommodation etc. May give a list of health needs that stop them from doing certain things – at their convenience. Will persuade us to do things, change plans, go outside our comfort zone, wear clothes or act in a way we don’t feel comfortable to.

Will undoubtedly have a sob story about their failed relationship. Will accept no element of responsibility for any of this and will blame former partner. May tell us they have low self esteem, or is insecure.

[Doesnt need to be biological parent] Will use the children to control us, possibly by suggesting we parent them differently, may step into the role without even discussing. Could make themselves indispensable especially in the early days, buying gifts, offering to watch the kids, may give financial support.

Will begin to choose our clothes or image, in a very subtle way. Suggests moving in too soon, will start to leave some of their possessions at ours. Very subtly and gradually the King Of The Castle will get us doing all domestic chores in a variety of ways, such as, burning the dinner, picking up the wrong items at the shop, makes a song and dance about any contribution they make and expects acknowledgement and gratitude for it. If they come food shopping with us may take items we have put in the basket out and replace them with their preference, stating their choice is better. May do lots of domestic chores and perpetually tell us how we don’t do the job properly.

Again suggests moving in too early, could suggest we do things or participate in things we don’t feel comfortable to do. No communication with us during sexual acts, which will dissipate over time. Takes no responsibility for contraception, may grope us in public.

Further Information and Training:

Clare Walker Consultancy provides Freedom Programme Training UK wide and beyond. See Training Packages and Forthcoming Dates for more information. Support CWC’s NO MORE campaign, and say NO MORE to domestic abuse, tweet @clarewalker3 with #NOMORE 

For more Domestic Abuse articles and resources see: 

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