How To Avoid An Abusive Relationship

Man with fist raised to hit woman

The first thing anyone asks a battered woman is: "Why did you put up with that?" Domestic violence is the only crime I can think of—well, besides rape—where the victim is treated as complicit in her own abuse.

This is why I rarely talk about my two-year relationship with a batterer. I wasn't a housewife with no resources, I was a teenager and he was my first boyfriend. He beat me, raped me and stalked me. After I escaped, it was years before I told anyone what I'd been through because I was so ashamed. I still avoid the topic with those close to me. The Frisky: Domestic Violence Victims Have More Health Care Costs, Says Study

What people don't understand is that abusers don't generally punch you in the face on the first date. If they did, nobody would ever go out with them twice. But there are some early warning signs—and as much as you might hate to admit it to yourself, the fact is, even a strong, smart, independent woman can find herself on the wrong end of the fist. Here are some behaviors to watch out for:

Too Close, Too Fast: After years of dating ambivalent men, it can be refreshing when a guy comes on strong. But if he's declaring his undying love on your second date, you could be looking at trouble.

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Green-Eyed Monster: Being peeved that you exchange occasional texts with an ex is one thing; throwing a shrieking tantrum because you're spending the evening with your mom is a big fat red flag. My ex was jealous of my family, my favorite art teacher (an elderly gay man!), all of my friends, and my employers. After a while it became easier to avoid them than dealing with the drama that resulted from seeing them.