an angry fist clasping a rough rope

Signs of Abusive People – 10 Red Flags – An Autistic Guide to Detecting Manipulative & Abusive People

CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses suicidal ideation, grooming, manipulation, coercive control, and physical and mental abuse.

This piece completes my recent grooming, manipulation, and coercive control series.

Thanks for sticking with me as I got this heavy weight off of me.

I’m creating a new community outside of social media on Substack (where I can have more control over my space), and I hope you’ll join me as a free member (but I also have paid subscriptions if you want access to bonus content).

It’s important, as Autistic People, to be mindful and aware of manipulative people – those who coerce others into doing things they’d never do otherwise.

They’ve seen an opportunity to take what they want from you. Maybe it’s sex, maybe it’s a place to live. Maybe it’s a promotion you are about to land (that they desire) in the workplace. Maybe they’re getting close to you because YOU are a stepping stone to another target.

It’s all about manipulation and control; they usually want something from you. Because it’s all about getting something they want, they may leave and move on if you don’t give them what they want. However, they may latch on and stick around if they can get what they need from you.

Once they attach themselves to you, trying to leave one of these abusive and manipulative people can be complicated, scary, and even dangerous.

I have stereotypical Autistic Pattern recognition, meaning I often notice things others miss.

Because I notice things others miss, people have accused me of being clairvoyant in the past.For the most part, when I make a prediction, it’s not based on any psychic powers, spiritual connection, or messages from the other side but simply on the patterns that are practically screaming at me (while going unnoticed by others).

Because other people cannot see the patterns I do, sometimes it is dismissed as paranoia, OR people are confused at how I can “predict the future” so often.

For many years this ability to notice and pick up on patterns didn’t save me. I kept falling into familiar patterns of abuse, getting myself into relationships with people who had poor intentions or wanted to use or exploit me.

These can be people’s family members. These can be people’s parents. These can be relatives, these can be coworkers, and people you work with. These could be your boss.

a person with long hair is hiding behind a paper, holding up the word HELP written on it as other team members yell at her
Abuse at work

Much of what I’ll talk about will center around romantic relationships, but you can also encounter a manipulative person outside of a romantic relationship.

Unfortunately, when one of these manipulative people gets their hands on you in a romantic sense, it can be especially devastating because of how much access they have to you, allowing them to get in under your skin and play many mind games.

When I didn’t know I was Autistic, I didn’t understand that not everyone goes about their lives as I do.

Yes, I am a pattern thinker and can pick up on patterns (once I have enough experience and information to see them). I am also fairly transparent, blunt even, saying what I mean, and very upfront with my intentions.

I am transparent and open, don’t pretend to like people, and am not kind to people for ulterior motives. Because of my failure to “be nice” when I don’t feel it, I’ve been accused of being an “ass” more times than I can count.

I’m not nice. I’m kind… There IS a difference.

Nice people, those who “fake” kindness out of obligation or without actually feeling it, who are only nice because they want things from others or to make themselves look good, used to scare me (because of the harm I’ve experienced in the past at the hands of people like this).

As an Autistic Person, it can be hard to spot them if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Now, as I’m closer to 40 than 30, with too much painful experience under my belt, I have enough data to confirm and notice when some of these patterns unfold before me.

Abusers are predictable. Once I see one for what they are, they are EXPOSED.

I hope this list will help you with some red flags to watch for – so you don’t have to learn through personal experiences (as I have).

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PLEASE NOTE: This list is drawn from my personal experience as a victim of manipulation and coercive control in multiple types of relationships (family members, fake friends, romantic partners, and even employers and coworkers).

Any one of these traits on its own may not be a red flag. You should consider the COLLECTIVE of traits together in concentration (because all of these traits occur amongst the human spectrum).

A person standing outside in a red hoodie, holding up a cardboard sign that says "love shouldn't hurt"
Love shouldn’t hurt.

The patterns below are a list of common traits people who harmed me personally shared.

This piece is based entirely on first-hand experiences of being lured in (multiple times by) these charming and sometimes charismatic characters who hide behind a mask of niceness – monsters whose darkness destroys every person they touch… eventually.

Abusers have patterns… their manipulations are dangerous, but also they are predictable (if you know what to look for).

  1. These types have no problem taking advantage of people, stepping on people (metaphorically and even physically) to lift themselves up (at the disregard and expense of others).

If they abuse one person (by manipulating, lying, cheating, or stealing from them), expect they will do the same to you one day too.

2. Abusers are master manipulators who know how to be everything you want them to be (and need) them to be.

Believe it or not, abusers can be charming (especially initially) and may even appear warm, loving, and nurturing (at first glance).

Often, when you first meet an abuser, they will be on their best behavior.

Initially, this person may seem too good to be true (because they are projecting what they think you want and aren’t showing their true selves or intentions).

If anyone ever comes to you, and it seems like they’re made for you (because they check ALL of your boxes), I STRONGLY suggest you question that.

a person sits on a sofa in a blanket, reading text messages on an iphone
Breakups via text.

2. Manipulative people often have very one-sided relationships where they often will expect other people to serve or cater to them.

These, these people take, take, take, take, take, take. They don’t give back unless they want something.

They may be the only person who does venting and complaining, but they won’t be receptive or available for someone else to lean on if others ever need a shoulder to cry on.Abusers think their needs and feelings are more important than those of the people around them. They see themselves as number one; the rest of us are just NPCs to be played and toyed with.

Thanks to the abuser’s artificially inflated sense of worth, they believe that everyone should serve and cater to them. Because they see themselves as more important than they really are, they use the people around them as pawns, discarding them when they can no longer use them.

They will exploit anything and anyone if they can get away with it (even lying, cheating, and stealing) because they believe things should be handed to them or that they are entitled to take what they want.

  1. They strategically shower you with love (to keep you hooked on them).

When an abuser wants something from you, they may “love bomb” you – using gifts (often things that are of monetary value) or acts of kindness as reinforcers to lure you back in.

a dog wearing a cape and helmit posees with an airplane
Super Hero Dog – Not “JUST” a dog – a SUPER dog!
  1. I noticed that my abusers were often convinced they were somehow more “special” than the average human.

For example, one of my first partners, who harmed me when I was a minor, told me they were adopted and that their REAL parents (not the ones I met) were demons and were a half-human demon hybrid person.

Another person I dated (who took advantage of me when I was young and naive) thought they were a vampire.

At the time, because these stories seemed so unrealistic, I laughed it off with both partners… thinking they were playing strange games…

In hindsight (because these role players never broke character and seemed to REALLY believe these fantasies), this SHOULD have been a HUGE red flag.

You can read more from my 10 red flags to be on the lookout for on my Substack (for free).

In addition to Substack (because I STRONGLY believe educational resources should be affordable), I also offer subscriptions on Patreon, where I always offer a pay-what-you-can subscription (starting at $1 a month – less when you subscribe annually).

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