(WBNG) -- Ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, experts want you to know the warning signs of potential abuse.
The staff of Rise-NY, a local shelter that provides a variety of domestic violence-related services, told 12 News Monday most abusive relationships don't start out that way.
Rebecca Staudt, the organization's assistant executive director, said most abusers are friendly and charming when you meet them, and only show their true colors later on.
She said early signs of trouble include isolating someone from their loved ones, demanding to know where someone is at all times, and making them financially reliant on the abuser.
Above all else, Staudt said when something begins to feel wrong, trust your gut.
"If you're trying to establish boundaries or telling somebody you don't like something, you don't appreciate it or you don't want to do it and you're getting push back, that's usually a huge red flag," Staudt said. "That's a really important one, and a lot of it is doing that self-discovery of here is what my boundary is, here's what I'm not going to change."
She added Rise is seeing more and more loved ones contacting them on behalf of someone in an abusive relationship. Staudt said she's conflicted about this because while on the one hand, it's good people are taking advantage of their services, on the other, she wishes it wasn't necessary in the first place.
Staudt said she believes the pandemic helped illuminate the problem as so many people were forced indoors and loved ones were more focused on reaching out.
Rise-NY offers several services, ranging from helplines to a fully staffed domestic violence shelter; Staudt said she encourages anyone who can call the group at 607-748-7453.
If you are not able to use a phone, Rise also offers a completely encrypted online chat service which you can use here; Staudt said the chatroom is totally private, the group won't even know your identity, and no one will be able to see that you used the service.