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Relationship red flags are the early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Understanding them is an important part of dating education.
According to the National Institute of Justice, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in the United States (NIJ).
The term intimate partner violence describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples, and it does not require sexual intimacy (CDC, 2016).
Most abusive relationships commonly do not begin with abuse. Abusive people often have many good qualities, such as warmth, kindness, and humor. These qualities can stand out early in a relationship.
Fortunately, most abusers demonstrate warning signals before their abuse escalates. Being able to recognize those warning signals, the relationship “red flags,” is an important part of dating education.
The following early warning signs come from Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Pay close attention if your partner….
Almost everyone yells at some point and expresses anger in a relationship. People may call their partners a hurtful name, interrupt them, act selfishly, or act insensitively. Though such behaviors are hurtful, they aren’t all abusive.
So when is it abuse? Such behaviors are abusive when they are part of a pattern of abuse (Bancroft, 2002).
Abuse is about power. One person is taking advantage of a power imbalance to exploit or control someone else.
The defining point of abuse is when one person starts to exercise power over the other person in a way that causes harm and creates a privileged status for the abuser (Bancroft, 2002).
Lundy Bancroft offers the following advice:
Check out this video to see relationship red flags in action and the effects dating violence has on the victim: Can you See Me?
If you are in need of local resources to get help with an unhealthy relationship, please consider the following options: