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, or crazy
  • Acts jealous, accuses you unjustly of cheating, flirting, or having affairs
  • 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 e-mail
  • 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
  • Refuses 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 during arguments
  • 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 an argument
  • 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.
  • Withholds your medication

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 weapons, etc.)
  • 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 domestic violence.
  • Batterers try to isolate their victims from emotional support systems or sources of help.