The Warning Signs of Abuse
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
- Controls what you do, whom you see, and where you go
- Calls you names, puts you down, or humiliates you
- Makes you feel ashamed, isolated, wrong, stupid, scared, worthless,
- Acts jealous, accuses you unjustly of cheating, flirting, or having
- Threatens you or makes you feel afraid
- Punishes you by withholding affection
- Constantly criticizes you and your children
- Blames you for arguments or problems in the relationship
- Makes non-verbal gestures intended to intimidate you
- Isolates you from friends or family
- Makes you feel guilty for
spending time with someone else
- Threatens to take the children from you
- Monitors your phone calls
- Continually tracks your whereabouts by cell phone, pager, text
messaging or GPS system
- Causes problems for you at work or at school
- Continually harasses you at work either by telephone, fax, or
- Takes your money, withholds money, makes you ask for money, or
makes you account for the money you spend. Spends large sums of
money and refuses to tell you why or what the money was spent on
to let you sleep at night
- Uses your immigration status or personal
history against you
- Tells you that he cannot live without you and threatens suicide
if you leave
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner:
- Throws or breaks objects, punches walls, kicks doors in your home
- Destroys your personal property or sentimental items
- Pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you
- Uses or threatens to use a weapon against you or your children
- Drives recklessly with you/and or your children in the car during
- Threatens to hurt or hurts pets
- Forces or pressures you to have sex against your will. Prevents
you from using birth control or from having safe sex. Makes you
do things during sex that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Traps you in your home or keeps you from leaving
- Tells you that you will never belong to anyone else or that you
will never be allowed to leave the relationship
- Prevents you from calling the police or seeking medical attention.
Basic Warning Signs for Professionals
Domestic violence is not limited to “certain groups.” It is
difficult to predict who may be a batterer and who may be a victim
of domestic violence. There are no typical characteristics or profiles
of abusers or victims. Abusers may appear very charming or may seem
like angry, explosive individuals. Victims may seem passive or extremely
frightened or they may be very angry about what is happening.
- The most obvious
signs of domestic violence will be evidence of severe, recurring,
or life-threatening abuse (broken bones, repeated bruises, threats with
- Domestic violence may also be emotional or psychological abuse
where one partner continually degrades, criticizes, or belittles
the other or accuses the other of being stupid, unattractive, unfaithful,
a bad parent, etc.
- Many batterers use the legal system to punish their partners
for taking steps to free themselves of the abuse.
- Batterers use issues arising from custody and visitation cases
to try to re-establish control over their partners.
- Batterers frequently display extreme jealousy
- Batterers often discourage their victims from seeking help. People
who have difficulty making or keeping appointments may be trying
to avoid letting their abusers know they are seeking help.
- Batterers frequently insist on accompanying their victims to
appointments even if they are not involved in the case. The batterer
may refuse to leave the victim alone and may try to speak for the
victim in order to control the information the victim shares.
- Batterers harass, stalk and keep tabs on their victims. If someone
reports constant phone calls, text messaging, etc. at home or at
work to keep track of their whereabouts, this could be a sign of
- Batterers try to isolate their victims from emotional support
systems or sources of help.