Is He Dangerous? How to tell…

Hi Julie and Beth – Ok. Mom says a lot of girls are real stupid and date the wrong men. Then they get their selves beat up or worse. I’m just out of high school and dating is different now. Is there a way to tell an abusive or controlling person? I guess maybe from their face or actions?



Hi Janey – I’ll answer part of this, and then let Julie step in. I also hope some of the people out there who deal with this issue day in and day out will chime in. This is a serious situation, and I’m glad you asked. Bear in mind that this is not just boyfriends. I’ve seen times where friends of the same sex will try and control another person and can be abusive either verbally or physically.

Some of the signs that someone is too controlling and may not be good for you:

  • They begin to separate you from your family and friends
  • They want to know where you are at all times
  • They are constantly suspicious – they accuse you of things you aren’t doing
  • They check your email, your phone, your texts, and listen in on all conversations
  • Their language is diminishing to you – they call you names, tell you that you can’t do certain things, are condescending, sometimes rude, and then try to make it up to you if you challenge them.
  • Some of them start out by pushing and shoving. If you don’t stop them, it slowly escalates and you start finding yourself in the hospital (and lying to your friends about that “fall down the stairs”)
  • In short, they are constantly, consistently, and intentionally invading your boundaries and making you feel like it’s all because YOU have done something wrong.

These people prey on your insecurities. They are often good at reading where your weaknesses are, and they manipulate those weaknesses to their benefit.  They do not care about you, they care about their own power. But the moment you challenge them, they become very soft and tender, making you believe that they care.

Trust your instincts. Face it, Darlin’ – If it doesn’t feel right, your inner self is sending you a message. Don’t override it by thinking you must be “nice” to everyone. Not True. We get ourselves in trouble when we operate with that thinking. Others do not “deserve” the opportunity to run roughshod over you. Set your boundaries and stick to them. And believe there are good people out there that will be good for you – both as friends, and that special man you are looking for.

Good luck and be safe!


@ 2010 Beth Terry Seminars, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Filed under Relationships, Watch out!

9 responses to “Is He Dangerous? How to tell…

  1. Beth had some really great information in her answer to Janey.

    Among the things that I tell people during the trainings I do is that these indicators may not show up for a while. Everyone one is different and the cues are typically very, very subtle. Controlling behavior may be as simple as the abuser giving a lot of gifts of clothes or jewelry and expecting you to always wear them, so that over time you can no longer choose what you want to wear without it being an issue with them. As stated above, they may dictate who you can hang out with; expecting you to be at their beck and call all the time.

    They make excuses for their behavior and explain it away and justify it. Often blaming you for “causing” the problem. There are many ways to be abusive and we need to remember that emotional abuse is a serious problem as wall as physical abuse.

    Too many people say things like, “Yeah…but he never hits me…”

    Emotional abuse also precedes physical abuse because of it’s escalating nature.

    Trust your instincts. If this relationship doesn’t feel good and right in every way it’s not the relationship to stay in.

    Below are additional resources regarding abusive relationships.

    I have tons of other resources if Janey wants to contact me.

    Read on for more info:

    Are you going out with someone who…
    • Is jealous and possessive, won’t let you have friends, checks up on you, won’t accept breaking up?
    • Tries to control you by being bossy, giving orders, making all the decisions, not taking your opinions seriously?
    • Puts you down in front of friends, tells you that you would be nothing without him or her?
    • Scares you? Makes you worry about reactions to things you say or do? Threatens you? Uses weapons in a threatening way?
    • Is violent? Has a history of fighting, loses temper quickly, brags about mistreating others? Grabs, pushes, shoves, or hits you?
    • Pressures you for sex or is forceful or scary about sex? Gets too serious about the relationship too fast?
    • Abuses alcohol or other drugs and pressures you to take them?
    • Has a history of failed relationships? and blames the other person for all the problems?
    • Makes your family and friends uneasy and concerned for your safety?
    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions you could be the victim of dating abuse. Dating violence or abuse affects one in ten teen couples. Abuse isn’t just hitting. It’s yelling, threatening, name-calling, saying “I’ll kill myself if you leave me”, obsessive phone calling, and extreme possessiveness.

    What If You Want Out?

    • Tell your parents, a friend, a counselor, a clergyman, or someone else whom you trust and who can help. The more isolated you are from friends and family, the more control the abuser has over you.
    • Alert the school counselor or security officer.
    • Keep a daily log of the abuse.
    • Do not meet your partner alone. Do not let him or her in your home or car when you are alone.
    • Avoid being alone at school, your job, on the way to and from places.
    • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.
    • Plan and rehearse what you would do if your partner became abusive.

    A helpful resource:
    Family Violence Prevention Fund

    Stephanie Angelo
    Human Resource Essential, LLC
    Raising Your Bottom Line by Reducing Domestic Violence

    • Stephanie – THANK YOU. Too many of our female friends find themselves in these situations, and it slowly escalates until they can’t get out. The best advice from both Stephanie and Julie is this: TRUST YOUR GUT. Love isn’t supposed to hurt. A marriage is about supporting each other and helping each other grow. If you are just in the dating phase and that isn’t there, you’ve got a problem already. Get out. There’s another man out there for you.

      I hope all our readers will pass this post and comments on to every young person they know. It isn’t just women who are abused. Men are, too. It happens in straight and gay couples as well. If you are a friend to someone who you suspect is being abused, quietly say something and let them know. Pay attention. If you know they are, and they are in denial, contact Stephanie or her resources and see what your next steps should be.

  2. Janey,

    I know there’s no single sign on a person’s face or writing on their forehead that they are controlling or abusive, but there are certainly warning signs that you can watch for. Never ignore your gut feelings. We all have the innate ability to sense danger. Our basic instinct is survival. Here are some things to watch for on a person’s face and what they could mean. You have to consider each feature on an individual basis.

    *whites showing under the eyes: indication of stress or dishonesty
    *whites showing all the way around the eyes: anger, anxiety, extreme disconnect and stress.
    *puffy skin below the eyes: lack of sleep, over indulgence in drugs, alcohol.
    *puffy skin eyelids: stress, fear, worry, lack of sleep.
    *puffy skin upper and lower eyelids: extreme stress, snapping point, abuse of some substance.
    *Jaw clenching: pent up frustration or anger – wants to act out.
    *Teeth clenching: same as jaw clenching
    *Hands balled in fists: doesn’t want to talk about it, ready to take action
    *Face flushes red: Heart rate has increased, nervous, not thinking straight, will make irrational decisions.

    Of course there are many more subtle signs that you can watch for, and I would suggest taping the show “Lie To Me” on Wednesday nights. It provides very good information on micro-expressions that can be useful when trying to identifying criminal and abusive tendencies.


  3. Gail

    I want to reinforce what Julie says about trusting your instincts and intuition. Most women today with healthy self-esteem won’t hang out with a man who yells or is controlling. That type of man is easy to spot and we avoid them. The one I missed was too smart to be overtly controlling. He knew how to get my trust and my family’s trust. And then he hurt all of us.

    Signs I missed:

    -Subtle manipulations to make me the center of his world. At first, this feels good. He’s paying attention, flirting–all good, right? But then it turned into isolation. He called it, “you and me against the world.”

    -Little or no interaction with his own, healthy, loving family. They had had enough! At first, I didn’t see this because his family lived out of town and that was the reason I told myself he wasn’t close to them. Now I wish I’d taken more time to check him out.

    -No friends. He had lots of good reasons that no one called or emailed–he’d been sick, people dropped him when he hit hard times… But reality is, if they don’t have friends, they can’t sustain relationships.

    -The body language Julie mentions would have tipped me off right away. He twitched in his sleep–thrashed like he was in a fight, clenched his fists. When I talked with him about it, he had no ideas about why it happened or what to do to stop it. So many discussions went in that direction, “I don’t know” was his response to many things that I questioned. That kept me confused and guessing.

    He tried to strangle me–twice. Never raised his voice or hit me any other times. Prided himself on “never hitting a woman.” Don’t buy that line. He doesn’t have to hit to hurt you, he can kick, choke, demean, rob, shove, and other things that are just as bad.

    If you see any of these signs, RUN. You can also check or to see if your guy has had run-ins with other women.

    • Gail – Thank you for your support on this one. We all need to have friends who will tip us off when we have allowed love, lust, or like to blind us. And men – we aren’t singling you out. Men date women who do the same things Gail mentions in her comments. Some people are just a little waca waca! So – friends don’t let friends date controlling, monopolizing, or otherwise unhealthy people! Speak up gently. But speak up. I’d rather “lose” a friend temporarily than lose them for good because no one alerted them to the danger in their arms…

      Great comment, thanks!

    • Sandy

      Great post Gail. Body language does tell a lot about a person and so does a person’s gut instinct. Sometimes people actually give off a positive or negative energy that you can tune into. One of the sites you mentioned above has a typo. It’s with an “an” which is a good resource for articles on signs of abusive men.

      It’s a necessary precaution to check people (men and women) out before you get involved in all ways possible, including facial readings, etc… The more informed you are, the better you can protect yourself.

      Stay safe,

      • Sandy – thanks for catching that. I was about to go to that site. Yep – in this hyper-cyber world, we have to be vigilant. Luckily there are some great people out there who can help. Listen to your gut, your friends, and keep coming back here with questions and faces to check. Julie is out of town right now and will be checking back in soon.

  4. Pattie Terry

    Beth and Julie:
    I really enjoy reading your Face It Darlin’ questions and responses.
    -The one about the alcoholic boyfriend really grated me.
    Remembering my ex-husband days. I went through the string of emotions it had stirred up inside of me-again. Remembering the self doubt, alienation from family friends, fear-not wanting to set him off, always walking around on egg shells, emotional, verbal, mental, and physical abuse.
    Anger at myself for staying 9.5 years in that marriage. Trying so desperately to “fix” something in my mind I knew was permanently broken. Worse, “it” didn’t want, or think it needed to be fixed.

    I have to say, that e-mail really got to me.
    What a learning experience my marriage was.
    Been there, done that . . . Won’t do it again!

    Great web site ladies!
    I keep checking to “see” if there is a new entry to read.
    It certainly is addicting!

    Spring Valley, CA

  5. Idell Siniard

    After nearly 30 years of problematic, very serious, drunkenness I come across this site today as I observe one-year of sobriety. Interesting Subject. I had a six figure occupation, a military and sporty background, outstanding home and household, and just projected I would invariably make it or get away with my inebriation. And like so many before me, I crashed and burned. We have to encounter our bottom or, kick the bucket…and some of us do just that. Now is a good day, nonetheless, a very good day!

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