Updated: Jun 23
He's gorgeous, charming and super in to you, but something doesn't feel right, you try to push it to the back of your mind because so much of what you have with him is great. It doesn't matter what stage you are at with a man, whether the connection is new or old and on going, remaining with a toxic abusive man will slowly erode everything that you are and leave you feeling empty and broken down. I am hyper aware that I never want my blog to instill fear in women, quite the contrary, I want to inspire women to experience their true magnificence and lead happy, fulfilling lives, free from fear. However for me the safety, and empowerment of women is above all for me, EVEN more so than her developing her true feminine spirit to attract men, which is the very reason I created this site. But through years of counselling I have experienced women tormented by abusive situations, I have also been in them myself, and have seen first hand the destruction they caused. This subject is very important to me. So let's get ourselves armed ladies, because despite our beautiful soft and angelic nature, we ain't taking no shit. We are going to take a look at some early, mid and late stage warnings of a toxic partner, how you can identify and dodge an abusive man early, how to implement damage control, escape and survive the aftermath. I'm not the type of coach that will advise a woman struggling in her love life to just end it. I believe there's a way to solve most of the problems you may ever face, but if you see some or most of many these warning signs below, abort mission and hop on out of there. Early warnings: He talks himself up excessively in a way that doesn't "match" his actual lifestyle or apparent ability. All men will try to impress a little if they like you, but if it almost feels like he's weaving a little web of delusion, take a mental note. He likes aggression, he talks about aggressive situations often (fights he has been in/people he hates and wants to fight with/ or taking satisfaction from describing violent acts) even if this only towards men and he claims he would never hurt a woman. *Note -there is a difference between a man being masculine and protective and actually deriving enjoyment from causing violence.
You keep getting a feeling that he tells little lies, that he keeps his life compartmentalised or is hiding things from you, or hiding you from others. Alternatively a man who wants too much too soon is likely toxic in some way, if he is being very needy in the first few weeks or months, telling you he loves you before he even knows you well or is just generally "too full on" be careful. One minute he seems crazy about you, the next he is cold or unsure about your relationship. He often tells you he can no longer see you, then starts chasing again just as you accept his decision. You either try to tell him something and he very often interrupts to talk about himself completely disregarding your news OR you feel that he pries in to your life and gives very little away about himself. He finds subtle ways to put you down, "your taste in music/food/wine is terrible!" "are you really going to wear that?"etc. He makes you feel bad for liking the things that make you happy and being who you are isn't quite good enough, often this happens only here and there and because the rest of the relationship is good you let it slide, Its fine for a man to disagree with you but a man who cares about you will not insult you.
He talks about all of his exes often and in derogatory ways, or generally speaks about women disrespectfully. He tries to make you feel insecure purposely or compares you to other women. He also has a bad reputation with women but many excuses as to why. He doesn't respect your boundaries, he want's you to blow off other plans to be with him, move faster than you feel comfortable with or is too intrusive (ie: inviting himself to your home/ calling constantly) He claims not to be a jealous person then starts to say nasty things about your male friends or your friends in general. You start to feel guilty about being around others.
He's too good to be true, he tries a bit too hard, or is forever convincing you what an amazing person he is even if you didn't ask. Generally I believe if someone is great they won't have to keep saying "I'm such a good person" their actions would prove it for them. He does unbelievably sweet and thoughtful things for you spontaneously, peppered among the red flags, you rationalise that no one who is bad could be so thoughtful, often though these gestures come before a "blow out" that's why so many women ask me "it was going so well, why did this happen?" He always has other women "baited"- his social media is saturated in attractive female's and he claims all 1000 of them are "his close friends" he spends a lot of time, texting/snap chatting/liking hot pictures on Facebook and instagram, if you ask about this expect to be called paranoid or jealous (serious Narcissist warning- he is ensuring he has sources of supply on stand by in case you wise up to him) or best case scenario is he's just not likely to be faithful.
Something just feels wrong or niggles at you, you start to feel a bit drained in his presence or a little used whether monetarily, emotionally or sexually. When a problem occurs you always feel blamed or in the wrong, you find yourself pleading forgiveness, even though his actions caused the event.
The relationship between the Empath and the Narcissist:
What to do (stage 1) : At this stage it can be almost as tough to leave as in the later stages but for different reasons, here it's because even if there are a few red flags glaring at you, you want to give the guy a chance, it's not every day that you meet a man who has potential to be a great boyfriend but remember everyone puts on their best face in the early months so if you are starting to see some disturbing patterns early, you need to heed those messages and start to withdraw slowly. Respond to texts less, be busy when he wants to meet but if you must speak to him be polite and don't offer an explanation, let people close to you know why you are backing off from him in case he becomes a pest, you have people to call upon. Remind yourself that you have come out of this a bit wiser about what to look for, Hopefully if the relationship wasn't exclusive yet, you may even still be just dating, if so stick him right on the back burner until he takes the hint.
Mid stage warnings:
During this time the full cycle of abuse has probably begun or will be in full swing, according to psychologists, the cycle of abuse goes like this:
During The cycle of abuse" a victim is initially placed on a pedestal, they feel like they have met their dream partner, they feel fully accepted and even idealised as a person. During the devaluation phase comes the subtle put downs which escalate to full blown verbal and sometimes physical abuse, you feel devastated wondering how your dream man could change so suddenly Finally comes discardation, the abuser will walk away leaving the victim feeling as though the relationship meant nothing to them, they feel tricked, confused and sometimes even desperate to return to those happy early days with him, soon he returns and the cycle starts again, only this time the Idealisation phases will be less loving and the other stages will become more intense and unbearable each time the cycle repeats. By now you are in a relationship with him, you are invested, you may even be in love with him and you want it to work out despite the set backs you have already experienced. Sorry to say it, but he knows this, it's once he knows he has you that's when an abusive man will start his true games which may include: Periods of calm followed by sudden intense and angry outbursts, usually over some perceived mistake on your part, These outbursts may become more severe over time with extreme psychological and verbal abuse. You may even notice that he uses things you told him in trust and confidence to stick the emotional knife in, he has carefully observed your pain and weaknesses and now uses them as weapons against you. Full blown put downs about your appearance, past mistakes, job or lifestyle, if you cry or become distressed he will either fake remorse and apologize or turn cruel and call you weak and pathetic. A feeling of confusion, like you are "losing your mind" he gaslights you if you try to talk to him he pushes the blame back on to you. You wonder if it's all your fault, if somehow you bring this out in him, even though you don't know why. He is now fully attempting to isolate you from friends and loved ones, he calls them bad influences, he tallies up any minor mistake or irritation caused by them to back up his claims, he tries to pretend he is "protecting you" from people who probably loved you long before he even knew you, and still will long after he's gone. He may find ways to cut off your independence financially, as well as eroding your support system so that he has full control. He may use public humiliation to keep you in check, especially if he knows you have a close group of friends or a place you love hanging out socializing, by causing a scene there he ensures you are left too humilated to return to that place/circle of people. Extreme jealousy games are common, contacting, parading and even sleeping with the same exes he bad mouthed just months earlier, openly expressing the desire for other women or telling you that he finds others more beautiful and exciting than you, threats such as "if you leave I'll have someone new right away, no one will want you" A general feeling that you are losing your identity, your interests and hobbies are less important, you may cry daily for no reason or have anxiety attacks, you cling to him even tighter for support because you feel so vulnerable. Commpulsive lying has now become a part of daily life, you question your own sanity even though deep down you know you are being fooled. Ridiculous accusations of foul play on your part, such as cheating, lying or deceiving him (Listen carefully to these accusations as they are usually a projection), He is transferring his guilt on to you OR he simply expects everyone to behave this way because he does.
At this point he may start using "punishments" to control you, stone walling is a common one, he walks away and ignores any communication until he thinks you have learnt a sufficient lesson. Complete devaluation has now begun he will attack your character, claim he never loved you, admit that he used you, the mask has come off completely. At this point he will either create a huge argument and leave you or he will vanish suddenly having secured a new victim to move on to. Please don't think this means you are rid of him though, as soon as the newness of his target wears off he will be back to pick up where he left off with you.
Now you are stuck in a make up-break up cycle, questioning what is real, what isn't and wondering how some one you adored so much could hurt you so viciously. You may notice his apologies seem very sincere, he may even cry and plead for forgiveness, if you cannot immediately let go of the pain caused and forgive, he will once again become aggressive and cruel. His concern for your feelings is an utter charade.
Late warnings: I truly hope that no woman will never end up in the later stages of an abusive relationship but it happens a lot, Many women in stage 2 tell me things like "I know he is bad at times/has a temper and fits the traits of an abusive man, but I KNOW he would NEVER hit me" I tell her that for her sake I hope she is right, but sadly I have seen this pattern too many times, if we have gone through stages 1 and 2 we are likely to feel completely down trodden by now, we may have attempted to leave many times only to be drawn back in again. 9 times out of 10 the final stage is physical violence, stalking, and complete control over your life. You have been on an emotional roller coaster, you still love him but you see him as the monster he really is, you are exhausted, maybe you don't even know who you are anymore. What to do (stages 2 and 3) Trying to simply distance yourself will not work at this stage, in fact if you try to distance, you increase the chance of his abuse intensifying rapidly as he will feel he is losing control and fight to take it back. At this stage you need a full escape plan and you need to keep it a secret, only involving those you trust 100% and who can help and support you.
Firstly gather your remaining strength, contact victim support or the domestic violence team in your local area for advice, find anonymous groups online. Please feel free to join our women's group here. If you are financially bound to him, start squirrelling away money wherever you can, even if you can only manage a little at a time. Borrow from family if you have to, sell something of value if need be, nothing is as important as your survival, not a possession, and certainly not pride. If you live together start seeking new accommodation or if you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member who will take you in short term go to them, but ensure this is somewhere he can't find you, leave when you know he will be gone for a few hours, remove your most treasured items and clear out. Change your phone number and remove your online presence for the time being. Close every single door of communication he may have. If you don't have a lot of money you may have to seek out a women's shelter of refuge, please remember my lovely that this won't be forever.
Alternatively if it's your home, carefully place his belongings outside while he is gone, change the locks and exit the premises for the next 12-24 hours, return only with a friend or family member and see if someone you trust will stay over for a few days. Once you are away from him physically, inform everyone close to you of his abuse, start re-connecting with the loved ones he isolated you from. Document and date every incident of violence or abuse that takes place. If the police need to be involved later you will have a record to back up your claims, you can also ask for an incident to be reported without pressing charges.
If you suspect he is a Narcissist, do not call him out on it, play dumb. I have done this myself, in some cases they will shrug and say "yes you're probably right" -most abusers are much more self aware than they let on, they just don't have empathetic capacity to care., others will turn angry so don't chance it. Show no mercy, if he harasses you, call the police, if he contacts you do not respond, even if he threatens suicide or violence. If need be apply for a restraining order.
I know this advice is mostly practical, But after an abusive relationship you feel like your soul has been drained out of you, you didn't know it was possible to cry so many tears, it feels like being stabbed in the heart would hurt less than this. But this is when you have to summon all the strength you have and say "No more!" You are a valuable human being who deserves true love and happiness with someone who would never harm you. Your heart may ache for him to hold you and comfort you (trauma bonds us to people) but you must resist at all costs letting him back in, in any way. Above all remember this is not your fault, so many abuse survivors told me it was harder to forgive themselves than him, "for being so stupid" or "not seeing the signs" but some abusers can fool people for months, even years. It's his issue, not yours. It's going to take time to heal and re-build your confidence but you will get there in time. Baby steps... Check out this guide on healing from a devastating break up If you need further help and advice please note I offer discounted rates on coaching for women suffering domestic abuse or who are in emotionally abusive relationships, please contact me here
Finally, please don't live in denial when it comes to abusive treatment, sticking your head in the sand is not the answer. Try to remember that the abusive relationship was not your fault, in fact it is often the most good hearted and giving women that find themselves falling prey to these types of men at some point, allow this experience to teach you and guide you on to a better future, free of abuse.