Day 11. Dawn, 45

Tuesday 5th December, 2023
“I was in my twenties, we’d not been together long. It wasn’t one of those mad, exciting romances, where I’d fallen head over heels, but he seemed nice and he was persistent. Before long he was staying at my flat every night and I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was too much, too soon. One night, we had been out drinking and he had probably been smoking weed. We went to bed late. I was tired and ready to sleep, but he couldn’t settle. He became restless and started pacing the floor. He warned me that if I left him, he would kill me. He had told me previously about his ex partner cheating on him and leaving and seemed to still be affected by this but I had never seen him like this before. He paced about like this for what seemed like a long time. I was strangely calm about it, telling him I had no plans to leave him and he should come back to bed. I thought it was probably the drink or drugs talking, but his threats frightened me and I was angry with myself for being so careless with someone I had not known for long. Eventually he calmed down. I made it very clear the next day that his behaviour had been frightening and unacceptable but for some reason I stayed with him for a few months afterwards. I don’t think he apologised, but it didn’t happen again”

Five red flags of a potential abuser
1. Won’t take no for an answer. The RomComs tell us this is romantic, we’re taught that we should be “chased” and “pursued” so we often don’t see “persistence” as anything other than sweet. In the films he turns up at my door with a bunch of cards telling me how he feels about me, or stands outside my bedroom window with a boom box. But a refusal to take no for an answer in reality is a sign that he believes he is entitled to my love and affection, that he disrespects my own ability to make my own choices. If he won’t accept that I don’t want to date him, what other decisions will he allow me to make for myself further down the line?

2. “Too much too soon.” Be it declarations of love within a few days, spending every night at my flat within a few weeks or moving in with me within a few months. Abusers often rush us, seek to make the relationship serious and committed as soon as possible. Why? Because it’s much harder to leave a serious and committed relationship than it is a more casual one. In addition, with each level of commitment abuse is known to worsen, the faster he can get me up the aisle, barefoot and pregnant, the quicker he can drop the ‘nice guy’ act.

3. Aggressive when drunk/on drugs. It’s easy to dismiss bad behaviour as the drink or drugs talking, but really drink and drugs simply lower our inhibitions, so we become more the person we really are. A person who is aggressive when they are on drugs or when they’re drunk is simply an aggressive person who hides it when they’re sober. The other thing to consider is, if you know you find it hard to control bad behaviour if you’ve had too much to drink, what do you do? You drink less. Anyone who knows they are likely to hurt or frighten those they love when they’re drunk should avoid being drunk at all costs.

4. Threats. In the early days threats can be more subtle. Obviously this wasn’t the case for Dawn, but in many cases they can be more veiled along the lines of “I can’t live without you.” When a man threatens to kill a woman it should always be taken seriously, in the U.K. a woman is murdered by her partner or ex-partner every four days. These threats are not empty threats.

5. Has a psycho ex/sob story. The terrible experience with an ex is a useful story for an abuser, it allows them to justify or excuse jealous or possessive behaviour, it allows them to let themself off the hook for anything that has gone wrong in a previous relationship and it gives them an excuse for demanding certain behaviour from me. If your current partner speaks badly of his ex, always remember, that could be how he is talking about you one day.

I don’t know about you, but I think Dawn had a lucky escape from this chap….