The good news: there are definite danger sings a guy is an abuser before he ever raises a fist - and they start with you just having a funny feeling in your pit of your stomach. Because possessiveness and control are major red flags, Cindy Southworth, a VP at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, suggests this little test: "Break a date at the beginning when he's all hot and heavy, and tell him your girlfriend needs you. If he says, 'I'm disappointed but I understand,' great. But if it's, 'I can't bear to be apart,' or he makes you feel guilty, puts your friend down, or gets angry, these are not good signs!"
Here are a few other red flags from Southworth and the whole team of experts at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, both for you and - in case you're worried about a friend - for her:
Watch out if your guy:
- Is so crazy about you he wants to settle in as soon as you meet.
- Is really, weirdly jealous. (He should be uncomfortable if go away for the weekend with your ex-boyfriend, but if he accuses you of flirting with every guy you encounter - the waiter, the cashier, a gay buddy - it's a red flag.)
- Texts so much, it sometimes creeps you out.
- Doesn't think your friends and family value you enough, or even at all. Also watch out if:
- You are always tired because he keeps you up at night.
- You're always explaining to people "I can't go."
- Your anxiety soars if you're just a few minutes late - you know how upset he'll be.
- Things are always your fault.
- You get a lot of apology emails or make-up gifts from him.
- You find you don't do anything without him, or without him approving of it.
- You find out he had a violent relationship with a former girlfriend.
- He stalks you - at work, online, with GPS in your car.
- He beats up a teammate or has a punch-out in a bar.
- He's ever been cruel to animals.
- He is ever physically violent to you.
- She starts saying she can't come to things you invite her to (because she has to be with her boyfriend.)
- When you're with her, she's always on-edge about returning his messages immediately or being late to meet him.
- She has bruises or scratches she can't explain or tells you they were caused by an accident.
- She stops doing things she loved before meeting the guy - hobbies, shopping, school, even working.
- You just feel like you're losing her.
About the author
Liz Brody is Glamour's editor at large. Learn more about relationship violence and join our Tell Somebody campaign to help keep women safe now.