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Safety Guidelines for Dating

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Former Abuse victims often worry about picking another abuser when they begin dating again. This is a valid concern. Why? Here are a few reasons many survivors will unintentionally pick an abuser again:

  1. Abusers are very charming at the beginning of a relationship, and may appear the exact opposite of the cruel, harsh person you recently left.
  2. You may subconsciously feel comfortable with a certain “type” of man.* Perhaps your father was this “type.”
  3. You may not be ready to date because you have not spent enough time healing from the abuse you’ve experienced. Keep an eye out for my upcoming book, A Journey to Healing After Emotional Abuse. In this book, I strive to help former victims of emotional abuse heal from the abuse they’ve experienced.

In my last blog, I suggested getting to know your future mate as a friend before you date him. This allows you to watch how he relates to others before you get into a romantic relationship with him.

Here are some red flags you can look for even when you are just friends: 

  1. Does he blame others for his mistakes?
  2. Does he always have to be right? Does he refuse to apologize and admit he is wrong?
  3. Does he talk about himself all the time?
  4. Does he get insulted easily?
  5. Does he get angry about things most people take in stride?
  6. Does he tease animals or children, or expect more of them than they are capable of?
  7. Does he believe in rigid sex roles, i.e. women should “always” stay at home, do all the cooking, cleaning, child care, etc?
  8. Has he been involved in any abusive relationships in the past, even if it was “her fault,” or if he claims to be the victim?
  9. Does he ever use force in an argument, even with friends?
  10. Does he have a poor relationship with his family?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, do not begin a relationship with this man. If you have already begun a relationship with a man like this, end it as soon as it is safely possible, (see my blog on what to do if you think you are being abused).

I recommend you do a background check on anyone you consider dating. This will help you discern whether this person is married, has a criminal record, or has gone bankrupt in the past.

If you decide to date on-line, I recommend you only date someone who lives near you, (of course, this is your choice). If you begin a long-distance relationship, you may invest too much of your time and emotional energy before you have time to meet him, and you will have very little chance to get to know his family and friends.

If you decide to date someone you don’t know well, whether you meet online, or in the grocery store, I recommend you take precautions to keep yourself safe. Begin dating casually, in the daytime. Pick a public place to meet, perhaps ask him to join you and a group of your friends in an activity. The right man will be happy to do this. Drive yourself there, and drive yourself home. Never invite him to your home, or go to his until you know him well. Too many women have been raped by their dates this way. For your next four or five dates, I recommend you continue meeting him in public places, and do group activities with your friends and his. This will allow you to observe how he interacts with others, and what type of friends he has.

Your friends will be able to tell you what they think of him. Often those closest to us can discern things about potential mates we cannot see. If your friends don’t like him, listen to them. There are many other fish in the sea. I firmly believe you can be happier alone than together with the wrong man – and if you’ve been abused before, you have already experienced being with the wrong man. You may feel awkward dating this way at first, but I believe you will see the fruit of dating this way in the long run.

What if your friends love him and you don’t? Listen to your instincts. The point of having friends and family along is to help you weed out the riff raff, not to talk you into dating someone who creeps you out.

Proverbs 11:14 (ESV) says:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
    but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. 

Many former abuse victims have told me, “My family didn’t like him, but I didn’t listen to them. I wish now I had.” Lets not let our pride get us back into another abusive relationship.

May the Lord bless you today.

Caroline

 

*In this blog, I refer to the abused person as “she”, and the abuser as “he”. The same principles apply if the abuser is the female and the victim is the male.

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