Warning Signs

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Whether it’s in our own relationships, or in the relationships of those around us, the first step to stopping domestic abuse is recognizing it. The red flags below are indicators that a relationship may become abusive. Independently, these may not be strong indicators. However, when several of these occur in combination, they can be predictive of a pattern of abuse in order to gain power and control.

These warning signs can become present at any time in the relationship. They are sometimes seen when a couple first begins dating, often in very subtle ways. However, they can also become much more apparent later, when the relationship becomes more committed.

Relationship Red Flags:

Controlling behaviors: Telling their partner how to style their hair, what to wear, insisting to accompany their partner to appointments, becoming excessively angry if their partner is late or unavailable

Cruelty to children and/or animals: Having unrealistic expectations of capabilities, delivering overly harsh punishments

Disrespect: Speaking disrespectfully to partner, being rude to wait staff, being outwardly disrespectful to others of different social background, religion, race, etc

History of violent behavior: Having a history of violence in past relationships is predictive of violence in future relationships

Isolation: Monopolizing partner’s time, sabotaging partner’s relationships with family/friends, calling/texting to check up on partner

Impulsivity & mood swings: Having explosive mood swings (acting like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), ranting and raving over minor things, not thinking through the consequences of actions

Jealousy: Showing excessive possessiveness, dropping by unexpectedly, having friends “keep an eye” on partner, accusing partner of flirting with others, making excuses for jealous behavior by saying it is out of love

Minimization & blaming: Avoiding taking responsibility for actions, blaming others for problems and feelings, denying or minimizing

Quick involvement: Pushing a partner to commit to a relationship very quickly, rushing partner to move in, get married, or have children before they are ready

Threats of violence: Saying things like: “I’ll kill myself if you leave me;” dismissing threats with comments like: “I was just joking/I didn’t mean it”

Unrealistic expectations: Expecting their partner to be perfect and to meet all of their needs, or to conform to rigid gender roles, or feeling that their needs come before their partner’s needs

Double Standards Having a different set of rules and expectations for their partner and their self

Use of force or coercion during sex: Guilt-tripping partner into having sex, showing little concern over whether partner wants or does not want sex