“If you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put a frog in warm water and gradually turn up the heat until the water is boiling, the frog will remain there until it dies. That is an abusive relationship.”

The thrill of growing a new relationship is something we all experience. In the beginning, it always feels sweet as honey. It’s all romance. Though slowly, behaviours may begin to change – but when you’re in love you tend to wear blinkers over your eyes and sometimes, you need to be reminded that some actions and behaviours are not okay as they may lead to something dangerous.

Abuse often starts emotionally before becoming physical.

Consider how you are feeling, do you ever find yourself avoiding certain topics out of fear that you will anger your partner, feel like you can never do things right for them and feel that perhaps you are the crazy one?

Do you ever find your partner humiliating you, yelling at or putting you down, ignoring you, or your accomplishments? Are you embarrassed for them to meet family and friends as you don’t want them to see how they treat you? A path to a happier, healthier and safer life often starts with a bit of knowledge and awareness. Here are 10 Red Flags that your Relationship may be turning toxic (and potentially abusive):

1. Things move really fast. You may be pushed into an exclusive commitment almost immediately as they claim to have, “never felt love for anyone like this before.”
2. There’s constant jealousy and control. They act extremely possessive and jealous and try to control who you speak to or spend time with out of insecurity.
3. Nothing is ever their fault. Every time something goes wrong, someone else is to blame. You, their boss, their family – it is never them.
4. Isolation. They may try to cut you off from your family and friends, and if you do happen to see them, your partner would always want to be there. Your partner may also try and deprive you of your phone, vehicle, money or work.
5. Unrealistic expectations. Your partner may expect you to do anything and everything for them, to be perfect and meet their every need.
6. They are hyper-sensitive. Anything and everything can set them off. They will often rant and rave about injustices that are just part of life.
7. Everyone else is responsible for their feelings. The abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of “I’m angry,” or, “I wouldn’t get so upset if you wouldn’t/didn’t…”
8. There are sudden mood swings, they can change from loving to angry in a matter of moments.
9. There is verbal abuse. They may degrade you or call you ugly names, curse at you and use vulnerable points about your past or present life against you.
10. Without them, you’re “nothing”. They may make you feel as though you would not have certain things if it weren’t for them and that without them, you will be useless.

All the above behaviours are extremely toxic and emotionally abusive – and it is very likely that they will eventually escalate into physical abuse. Stay aware of these red flags slowly displaying themselves, so that when recognized, you can leave and get yourself out of this dangerous situation before you are in too deep.

Are you looking for a domestic violence lawyer to assist you with your application and case for domestic abuse? Durban Law Offices has a team of dedicated family lawyers who seek to help those who find themselves in such a situation. Our family lawyers have been practising for 14 years and have plenty experience helping those with similar cases. Please contact us on 031 836 0307 or email us at karen@durbanlawoffices.co.za should you need any advice or assistance.