Signs of an Abusive Personality

signs of battering personality

Abusive individuals often possess specific personality traits. Knowing how to recognize these traits can help you leave a violent relationship or never enter one in the first place by recognizing the signs of an abusive personality.

Educate yourself and those you love about these warning signs. If you are observing these traits in someone in your life, there is a strong likelihood the person has a tendency toward abusiveness. Remember, types of abuse include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial. The more traits you see the greater the chance of violence.

Keep in mind that these behaviors are not a sign of love and concern. They are about power and control and often predict an abusive personality.


  • Questioning you about whom you have spoken to or seen during the day
  • Accusing you of flirting
  • Jealousy over time you spend with family, friends, children or hobbies which do not include him/her
  • Calling you frequently during the day or dropping by unexpectedly.
  • Refusing to let you work for fear you’ll meet someone else
  • Checking the car mileage or asking friends to keep an eye on you
  • Jealousy is not proof of love; it is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness.

Controlling Behavior

  • Anger over you being ‘late’ coming back from work, shopping, visiting friends, etc.
  • Questioning you closely about where you were, whom you spoke to, the content of every conversation you held, or why you did something he/she was not involved in
  • Limiting your personal decisions about the house, clothing, going to church or how you spend your time or money
  • Forcing you to ask permission to leave the house or room.
  • Penalizing you for making decisions he/she doesn’t like
  • Concern for our loved ones to a certain extent is normal – trying to control their every move is not.

Quick Involvement

  • Only dating or knowing someone for less than six months before moving in together or getting engaged
  • Claiming ‘love at first sight’ and that you are ‘made for each other’
  • Pressuring you to commit to him/her or make love before you feel the relationship has reached ‘that stage’

Unrealistic Expectations

  • Expectations to be the perfect husband, wife, mother, father, lover, and friend
  • Being very dependent on you for all needs
  • Telling you he/she can fulfill all your needs as lover, friend, and companion
  • Making statements such as: “If you love me, you’ll do what I say.”
  • Expecting you to provide everything for him/her emotionally, practically, financially or spiritually
  • Blaming you for not being perfect or living up to expectations


  • Trying to curtail your social interaction
  • Preventing you from spending time with your friends or family
  • Demanding that you only go places ‘together’
  • Viewing people who are your personal friends as ‘causing trouble’ or ‘trying to put a wedge’ between you
  • Wanting to live in the country without a phone
  • Not letting you use the car and/or stopping you from working or gaining further education or qualifications.

Blame-shifting for Problems

  • Refusal to accept responsibility for any negative situation or problem
  • Blaming other people (family, friends, boss, government, etc.) if he/she is unemployed, arrested, thrown out of college or has a fall out with family/friends
  • Feeling like someone is always doing them wrong, or out to get them
  • Making mistakes and blaming you for upsetting him/her or preventing him/her from doing as was intended

Blame-shifting for Feelings

  • Denying feelings that stem from within him/her and see them as reactions to your behavior or attitude toward him/her
  • Using feelings to manipulate you, i.e. ‘I would not be angry if you didn’t …’ or ‘You’re hurting me by not doing what I ask.’
  • Making you feel completely responsible for his/her well-being by making statements such as, ‘You make me happy’ or ‘You make me feel good about myself’
  • Being blamed for negative feelings such as anger, anxiety or depression.

Support REACH

REACH of Haywood County, Inc. serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through advocacy, community outreach and prevention education to empower individuals to live a self-sufficient life free of violence.


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