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Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship


Domestic violence and abuse is a pattern of power and control, and it is important that a 'big picture' is considered. When using 'warning signs' to evaluate a relationship, keep in mind that they are the possible behaviors of an abuser. There are many more not listed here, and you may or may not experience all or any of these. The best thing you can do is trust your feelings and instincts about your situation. You are the expert in your own experience.

  • Your partner has a history of bad relationships, is secretive about past relationships, or seems to only have bad things to say about most past partners.
  • Your partner pressures you into doing things you don't want to do.
  • Your partner's personality and temperament seems to change inexplicably or quickly.
  • Your partner tells you what to do or dismisses your opinions as wrong or stupid.
  • Your partner is jealous or possessive.
  • Your partner doesn't seem to like any of your friends, family or other loved ones, and suggests or demands that you shouldn't either.
  • Your partner gets upset when you spend time with other people.
  • Your partner pressures you quit your job or other activities, or quits his or her job and demands that you support him or her.
  • Your partner is the only one who decides what role you will each take in your relationship (for example, s/he demands that you earn the income, or that you clean, cook, care for the children-- while s/he makes all the major decisions).
  • Your partner blames you for most of the problems in your relationship, and refuses to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Your partner blames you for their own personal problems, even when they seem to be completely unrelated to you or your relationship.
  • Your partner uses looks and gestures to intimidate you by communicating that s/he is getting angry.
  • Your partner criticizes you constantly for the way you look, act, dress, parent, talk, or for your interests.
  • You partner tells you or makes you feel that you are incompetent or unable to handle daily life.
  • Your partner criticizes your sexual orientation, culture, traditions, spirituality, race, ethnicity, ability, and/or age.
  • Your partner has mostly negative things to say about women in general, and/or treats women as sex objects.
  • Your partner monitors your activities and demands to know every detail of what you did with your day or outing.
  • Your partner throws things, yells loudly, or calls you names when s/he is angry.
  • Your partner keeps you from leaving the room during an argument.
  • Your partner keeps you from sleeping or eating regularly.

If you answered yes to one or more of these behaviors, you may want to consider talking to someone about your relationship, such as a friend, family member, trusted acquaintance, or a women's advocate.


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