“I dated a ‘Dirty John’ and these are the SIX warning signs you need to know”
One brave woman shares her story
Content Editor / March 20 2019
The hit Netflix show Dirty John follows the story of con artist and predator, John Meehan, who met single mum Debra Newell on a dating site before trapping her in an intense relationship using an web of lies and deceit. He hid his criminal history, falsely claimed to be a doctor, and hid a drug addiction.
But the story is not unusual and certainly not rare. Shannan Thomas is one woman who had a very similar experience to Debra when she became involved with an ex-AFL player. When they first met, he wooed her with flowers, plane flights and romantic letters. However the relationship soon took a dark turn, as he became more and more controlling. He began verbally abusing her, and soon that turned to physical abuse.
Shannan found the courage to leave and now counsels women in domestic violence situations. She also launched The Red Flags DV to educate people about the warning flags that indicate an unhealthy relationship.
“I recently watched Dirty John about Debra’s cautionary life experience of how 'love bombing' works and can quickly spiral into a terrifying web of deceit, control and manipulation,” she told Practical Parenting.
“I too, could relate to the same core aspects of this manipulation: too good to be true, fast-moving, fear-inducing, isolating and deceptive ‘romance’.”
Here are six obvious “Red Flags” people need to watch out for:
1 They want to commit – quickly. Love bombing with grand gestures, talking about being “soulmates” and “never feeling this way about anyone before”. There are very often excessive calls and texts.
2 They want you all to themselves. He will not enjoy socialising with your friends or family, and create rifts between others to slowly isolate you.
3 They won’t take no for an answer. There is lack of respect for your wishes.
4 They need to know your whereabouts at all times. They always want to know where you are and who you’re with, want to check your phone and show disproportionate signs of jealousy that cannot be addressed.
5 They can be very judgmental of others and you. They often claim they have “crazy” exes and nothing ever seems to be their problem. They take little responsibility.
6 They show very little empathy or compassion. They can fake it for a short period, but you will notice it is fleeting and temporary.
For women experiencing domestic violence Shannan says education and communication is the key.
“Don’t be embarrassed, ashamed or feel humiliated. Talk to a trusted friend, family or colleague,” she says.
“Seek professional help, join a DV group online, read up on DV and educate yourself – and use the resources available to help you safely get out.
“Your self-esteem and judgment maybe crushed or that you feel like you can’t live without your partner. The manipulation may have left you feeling like this is real love. But this is NOT love when someone hurts you, emotionally, psychologically or physically.”
For more information about Red Flags DV go here.
Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.