Gaslighting. Somehow, every thing is always your fault and never theirs, and they’ll beat you so much with their version of the truth, you start to believe it. They will belittle your argument or dismiss it.
When you say you’re in some kind of discomfort/distress and they either couldn’t care less or dismiss it saying you’re imagining it.
They’re really “caring”, in that they always want to know where you’re at. And they start to try to include themselves in every aspect of your life. It can seem cute and affectionate at first, but it takes a hard left to controlling.
Little things that normally wouldn’t matter get them really upset. They can justify it easily, and when they say it, it makes a lot of sense. So you start to believe that you are the one in the wrong, even though you were sure that what you did was innocuous at first. “You know, it was really unfair of me to be fifteen minutes late coming home. I know how my partner worries. I definitely shouldn’t get so caught up chatting after work.” This is one of those slow-roll warning signs that can be a huge red flag.
If they hate all your friends and family. It may sound legitimate at first. But this could be a tactic (conscious or not) to start isolating you from your support network, and start to depend on the abuser.
Antagonize you and be overall toxic. This is more of a middle sign than an early. But say the abuser gets you to scream back, or be rude, or even abusive yourself. They can then play the “we’re both bad” card. Which can continue to erode your self worth and trap you in the relationship.
Blaming outbursts on their “anger issues” but being able to control their outbursts around their friends/colleagues/family. It will be your fault because you wind them up/talked to that shop assistant/had a missed call etc.
Double standards. Two sets of rules means you’re not in an equitable relationship, and they don’t value you.
If they don’t recognize/respect you as your own person, that goes hand in hand with abusive behavior. It’s where you usually see them not taking responsibility for their actions, or trying to control yours.
It’s impossible to deal with any disagreement because they’re never going to communicate with you in an effective way. Conveniently, whatever goes wrong in the relationship will just be your fault.
Before hitting comes grabbing. Grabbing with anything but love/affection/desire is a sign things can escalate. Causing pain by grabbing should be a red flag.
Belittling you. Sometimes it can be hard to notice, but designed to chip away at your confidence and self-worth slowly
When the sheer mention of someone of the opposite sex’s name sends them on a frenzy of accusing you of fucking them in the past or liking them.
When your partner breaks things or hits things near you it’s time to leave. If they punch the wall next to your head it’s time to run. These kinds of dominance displays lead to physical violence. And no they aren’t getting it out of their system they are seeing how far they can go and you staying tells them now they can actually get violent.
They test your boundaries. They’ll do little social experiments on you to see how you’ll respond rather than just asking you what you think or what you want.
They don’t take no for an answer. Sex is the obvious thing here, but it’s not just sex. If you give a hard no to going somewhere or eating something or whatever, they’ll persist in arguing with you. (You must have a ‘hard no’ for this to work. So rather than saying not now, or you’re not sure, or you don’t think so, you have a hard core ‘no way, out of the question, non-negotiable absolutely not.’)
Some of the time, they’ll do the second one, arguing with you and trying to test your boundaries, and then when you call them out on it, they’ll claim it was all just a social experiment and they wanted to see how you’d respond. Fortunately, since neither is OK, you don’t need to spend much time worrying about which one it really was.
Real Example: I’d been out with this one guy once maybe two or three times, and we were supposed to go out to do a specific thing. We’d agreed what we were going to do ahead of time, and he was driving that day, so he came to pick me up, and then he started driving in the wrong direction. So I asked him what he was doing, and he told me it was a surprise. I said no. I said I agreed to do the thing we’d agreed to, not some ‘surprise.’ He wouldn’t even tell me what it was, but he swore I’d really like it. He probably didn’t know me well enough to predict that sort of thing, but he swore he was right. I eventually told him that he needed to pull over and let me out or I’d start screaming and flag down the cops.
So he told me the whole thing was just a test. He was trying to determine whether I had a mind of my own or something, and that I had passed his test with flying colors. Obviously, this was bullshit, but again, it wouldn’t even matter. I wasn’t auditioning to be his girlfriend. This was a thousand years ago, and I’m still mad about that.
These ones show up really early, so hopefully you can extricate yourself before they even become a ‘partner.’