I have lived with abusive partners too many times in my life.
I lost years of my life this way.
First sign is to spot the moment when he makes you doubt yourself.
When he’s challenged, or backed into a corner, he will defend by attacking you and making out it’s your fault. If he’s good at this (and he usually has had years of practice) he will hit you somewhere close to where you doubt yourself, so that you feel he might be right. He will twist some little insight that he’s gleaned from you and turn it into a glaring fault. And you will respond to his accusation with guilt and shame. They hit you in the guilt and shame because that’s where you’re most likely to keep quiet. Oh my god, if he’s right, I can’t let anyone else see this about me…. and so you batten down and keep it to yourself.
That becomes step two. He’s isolating you. He’s stopping you from talking to anybody else about what’s happened. You don’t want to admit what a fool you’ve been. But he forgives you, and absolves you, and so you go to him for relief. The dirty little secret between you builds, and that becomes step three. He has you now.
That’s it, there…. you’re wrapped tight in his sticky web. All he has to do is keep employing these tricks and slowly slowly the gaslighting extends and before too long you think that you’re insane. You think no one else will ever want you. There are no friends around to put you straight because they all hate him and you fell out with them ages ago about why the hell you’re still with him. And you don’t even know.
If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of his true colours before he’s bedded in. Remember, it’s that moment when he makes you doubt yourself.
Don’t fall for it.
Trust your inner voice and take action before it’s too late.