How to Detect an Abusive Guy Before Tying the Knot

31 October 2023 by Wes Bredenhof

man in black hoodie
man in black hoodie

Knowledge is power and, when it comes to relationships, one of the most important bits of knowledge is how to detect an abuser before you marry one. In far too many cases, abusers hoodwink their prospective spouses during courtship. But this usually happens because the prospects/future victims don’t know what to look for. I hope this post will help.

A few important points beforehand:

  • I have adapted this list of clues from a pamphlet produced by WestCASA (Western Region Against Sexual Assault) here in Australia. I have adapted it for a church-going audience.
  • The list is not exhaustive and it’s important to realize that some abusers can’t be detected beforehand.
  • Because domestic abuse is usually perpetrated by men, I’m going to use masculine pronouns. This isn’t to say that women can’t be or aren’t abusive.
  • These are important things to reflect on as early as possible in the relationship. As the original pamphlet states: “Collect this information over at least 2-4 months and during this time try not to get too involved and keep strong boundaries.”
  • If there are a few “Yes” answers to these questions, talk this information over with a professional support person (here in Australia you can call 1800Respect).

So here are the questions that can help you unmask an abuser before it’s too late:

  • Does he show intense emotion early on and overwhelm you with charm?
  • Does he want to be with you all the time and get moody, sulky, or angry if you have other plans or visit friends or family?
  • Is it all about him? Does he interrupt you or seem distracted or disinterested when you talk?
  • Does he speak about women in critical ways or as sexual objects?
  • Does he usually go out with women who are a lot younger than him?
  • How does he talk about his ex-girlfriends? Does he describe them in disrespectful ways, call them names, or paint them as people who have done him wrong?
  • Is everyone else to blame for his feelings or for things that go wrong in his life? Is everything always someone else’s fault? Does he never take responsibility?
  • Ask about his parents. Better still, observe him with them. Is his father controlling and critical of his wife? Does the man you are with copy this behaviour and speak to his mother rudely?
  • Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells around him?
  • Does he make all the decisions without asking you?
  • Does he decide what you should wear, where you will go out?
  • Is he critical of you? How you look and dress, what you say, what you believe?
  • Does he try to restrict your access to money or pressure you to hand your money over to him?
  • Does he talk about your body or all the intimate details of your relationship with his friends?
  • Does he pressure, trick, or force you into sexual activities before you are ready (including being married)?
  • Does he watch and use pornography and try to justify it? Does he try to get you to watch porn with him?
  • Does he sulk or keeping asking after you have said ‘no’ to something he has asked you to do?
  • Does he drink a lot most days and/or go on drug binges?
  • Does he turn everything around so you always end up feeling to blame for things? Do things quickly escalate into a drama?
  • Does he accuse you of cheating on him?
  • Does he say his jealousy/intensity is a sign of his love for you?
  • Is he cruel to pets and animals?
  • Does he threaten suicide if you want to stop seeing him?
  • Does he think it is okay in some circumstances for a man to hit a woman?
  • Has he had an aggressive outburst where he has hit you or another person, thrown something, or hit a wall?
  • Do you sometimes agree to things to avoid him being angry?
  • Has anyone ever taken a restraining order out against him?
  • Does he use the Bible to try and control you? Does he demand submission from you?

God condemns abuse and violence. He doesn’t that want for you or for anyone. I pray that this list will help someone recognize the danger signs beforehand. And if you’re already married to such a person, please know that the Bible teaches that you don’t have to put up with it. There is a way to get free.