Ignoring These 8 Red Flags Led To Years Of Abuse

Why didn’t I leave?

Woman being yelled at RealPeopleGroup | Canva 

How could you treat me like that?

Don’t you ever disrespect me like that again!

How dare you stand there talking to another man!

You made me look like a fool.

Don’t lie, you knew he fancied you.

What were you talking about?

Who do you think you are?

Do you think you’re better than me?

You slag, whore, bitch.

As I sat there trying to shrink away from his glare and foul mouth, alarm bells were ringing in my ears, adding to the verbal abuse.




He was standing over me, spitting out his words, berating me because of my “unacceptable” behavior at a foam party we had just been to. That behaviour involved chatting to a man at the bar, whilst he was messing around in the foam pit.


I had struck up a conversation with this guy because I noticed his Australian accent. I had traveled around Australia the year before, so I asked where he was from. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and I explained I was there with my boyfriend and his friend, so he ordered a drink for all of us.

A woman can’t talk to a man without flirting, so my actions were disrespectful, and I embarrassed him in front of his friend by being a slag.

I was astounded, he had never talked to me like this before and I couldn’t understand why he was so mad. And I was scared, something felt extremely wrong. I told myself to get out as soon as I could and never come back.

However, I did go back, and that wasn’t the first nor last time I ignored those alarm bells.


RELATED: 15 Relationship Red Flags You Should Never, Ever Ignore

Ignoring these 8 red flags led to years of abuse:

1. Lies

He lied about his age, adding a few years on to hide the fact he was five years younger than me. I found out his true age when he had to get a passport for our first holiday. When I asked him why he lied, he said that he knew I wouldn’t have been interested if I had known he was only 19.

A short while later, he reluctantly told me he had a child. He would get lots of calls and messages from his ex and I asked why she was still in such close contact. He told me he had a young son and asked if I wanted to meet him.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue seeing him. He was too young to already have a child and I didn’t want children at that point. But he didn’t give me any time to make my own decision. Within 15 minutes of him telling me about his son, we were at the front door of the flat where his child lived.


As we walked in, I saw his son and, to my further surprise, I saw another, very young child sitting in a highchair. She was the image of him. He had neglected to tell me he also had a daughter.

His excuse for keeping this information from me was the same as before. He knew I wouldn’t have got involved with him if he had told me the truth straight away. He was right, and he had taken that decision away from me. But I still didn’t end the relationship.

The lies continued, as did the excuses.

2. History of abuse

Not long into the relationship the mother of his children told me my boyfriend had put her in hospital. I had not been subjected to any physical abuse at this stage and when I questioned him about it, he told me she was crazy and jealous of our relationship and was trying to split us up.


Yes, I fell for it. I now know this is a very typical response, but domestic abuse was nowhere near my radar at that time of my life, so I accepted his reply. She certainly did act crazy sometimes which seemed to confirm his accusations. I put my concerns to the back of my mind.

I learned the truth the hard way.

3. Quick to anger

He would get terrible road rage and drive aggressively, but that wasn’t the only display of anger I witnessed.

There was an incident shortly after we first met. I met him outside the nightclub I was working at. He had been arguing with a friend of his and was extremely angry. He started smashing up the parked cars. I was begging him to stop. Those car owners didn’t deserve to have their property damaged. Plus, I was terrified of getting into trouble with the police.


I managed to drag him away and into my car where he ranted about what he was going to do to his supposed mate. I had serious doubts about this person and our relationship at that point, but again, I overlooked them.

I witnessed many, many more displays of anger over the years, often unprovoked.

4. Jealousy

As well as the jealous rage he had showed after the foam party there was another occasion that also caused me to think about ending the relationship.

I was out at a local bar with a friend, and he texted me to ask where I was. I wasn’t living with him at the time, and we had not planned to see each other that evening. I told him where I was and that I was with my friend. Within minutes I heard a car screeching to a halt outside and he came rushing in, accusing me of cheating and lying.


I was embarrassed at the scene he was creating over nothing, so took him outside to calm him down. Again, I had the intention of never seeing him again once I managed to get back home.

But he talked me round. He reacted in that way because he loved me. He loved me so much that these jealous rages were to become a regular occurrence.



RELATED: I Said I Would Never Put Up With A Physically Abusive Relationship — Until I Was In One


5. Cheating

During the first few months of our relationship, he was seen out with another girl. I had also seen a message on his pager saying I love you.

His excuse was that she was an ex that wouldn’t let go. A couple of years into our relationship he admitted that he had been seeing someone when he met me and had continued seeing her for the first year of our relationship.

By the time he admitted this, I was trapped, and he knew it. And he continued to cheat on me throughout our nine-year relationship.

6. Money Issues

Right from the beginning he never had any money, despite telling me he had a job. I was in a well-paid job at the time and paid for everything. I felt uncomfortable with this as I was careful with my money and kept to a budget.


There was always a reason for him not having any, and always a promise that he had some money coming in to pay me back. This did happen on the odd occasion which prevented me from calling it a day or refusing to give him any more money.

Within months of meeting him, I was in debt and borrowing money from friends and family.

7. Controlling behavior

The constant phone calls and texts were flattering to begin with, but I was an independent person and his expectation for me to always be available did not sit well. Again, I overlooked it, a lack of knowledge made me see this as an insecurity on his part which would improve the longer we were together.

Of course, it got worse.


8. Lack of morals

He wasn’t the most law-abiding person on the planet and there were a few occasions where he told me about something that had happened that made me question his morals. I didn’t like the way he treated other people. He lied to them and talked them into doing things they didn’t want to do.

He made me feel that my dislike of these things was because I was too straight-laced and boring. That’s the last thing I wanted him to think of me, so I turned a blind eye and fooled myself into thinking what he was doing wasn’t hurting anyone.

But of course, they were, and he hurt me even more.

The first time he hurt me

An obvious red flag but still not obvious enough for me to leave. Mainly because he brushed it off as an accident, never apologised, and told me I must be crazy. As if he would physically assault me.


I was shocked that he had pushed me. I had always declared that if a man put his hands on me, I would be straight out of the door. But he made me question my version of events. Was it really a push or was it just me losing my balance?

I lost my balance many more times over the years. I became extremely clumsy.

RELATED: How To Leave An Emotionally Abusive Relationship That You *Know* Must End


Why did I overlook every single one of these obvious red flags?

As I write this article, I feel ashamed and embarrassed about my stupidity. I still cannot fully understand nor make sense of why I stayed. There were so many red flags, some of which appeared within weeks of meeting him.

I can’t help but think about how my life would have been so different if I had walked away after any one of those occasions. I could easily fall into an old habit of berating myself for all the ways I let myself down and all the mistakes I made.

But I am 18 years into my healing journey and I know this will not get me anywhere other than back to the bottom of the dark pit I have worked so hard to climb out of over the years.


Instead, I can attempt to understand, using the knowledge I have gained since breaking free.

All these instances were sandwiched in between giddy highs of love, attention, and good times. I dealt with each one in isolation rather than looking at them as a whole.

  • I was fooled into believing I was the love of his life. In the beginning, I couldn’t see past the love-bombing, the infatuation, and the charm.
  • When he “messed up”, he would pile on the sob stories about his painful past and make flattering comments. He would turn everything around so that he became the victim in each story, and I was the person who could save him. If I could love him more, I could prevent these outbursts.
  • He would vehemently refute some of my concerns, play down others, and deny certain things happened. I started questioning my perception, memory, and judgment. I would be manipulated into making choices that I would never have made if I was not under his control. My mind started to become clouded with uncertainty and confusion.
  • Every reasonable comment I made about his unreasonable behavior was pulled apart or ignored.

He played me and won for many years. He was, after all, a master at this game of deceit, control, and manipulation.

I hate that I wasted so many years on this man. But, I did finally win the game.


After nine years, I left him and took our son. He was denied parental responsibility and any direct contact. As a result, he didn’t see our son grow into the wonderful man he now is and does not have a relationship with him.

I have built a life filled with love, respect, and happiness. I am happily married and enjoy healthy relationships with everyone around me.

The last time I heard, he was still the same person I left 18 years ago. 

RELATED: 13 Reasons Why People Stay In Abusive Relationships

Lisa Johnson is a writer and coach, based in the UK. She is a regular writer on Medium.com, sharing her personal experiences and lessons learned, proving that there is life, love, and happiness after domestic abuse.