Domestic Violence – 5 Red Flags To Watch For
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone. It happens between heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationship. It happens across every socio-economic level, every race, every culture, every age range. And because abuse doesn’t usually start out with physical violence, the abuse can gradually creep up and slowly make you feel trapped.
So what are the warning signs? We’ve compiled a list of some red flags you can look out for. These signs aren’t a guarantee that your relationship is headed for physical abuse, but if you see a combination of these signs in your relationship, it should raise some red flags for you.
1 – Controlling behavior. If your partner does any of the following things, you’re wise to be extra cautious:
- tries to tell you what to wear or how to look or criticizes your appearance or weight
- refuses to let you work or, on the other extreme, forces you to work in a job you don’t want
- becomes angry if you have a different opinion or never wants you to offer advice or input
- has to know where you are every second and constantly checks up on your or tracks your phone
- limits your access to cash or credit/debit cards and makes you account for every dollar you spend
- limits your access to a car or makes you feel as if you can’t leave home whenever you want
2 – Cuts you off from friends and family. If your partner makes you ask permission to spend time with other people or becomes angry when you want to spend time with friends or family, that’s a warning sign. If he/she humiliates or embarrasses you or treats you so badly in front of other people that you avoid spending time with others, that’s also a warning sign. An abuser wants to isolate you so that other people won’t realize what’s happening and so that you feel trapped.
3 – Moves too fast. As your relationship progresses, an abusive person may push the relationship too quickly. If this person can get you committed very quickly, he/she can gain more control over you. If you feel like things are moving too fast, trust your gut. Maybe your boyfriend/girlfriend is pressuring you to become physically intimate before you’re ready or is pressuring you to move in together or to get married before you’re ready. Maybe your partner is making grand gestures or expensive purchases for you very early in the relationship that make you feel obligated to stay in the relationship. If things are moving too quickly, don’t hesitate to speak up. Trust your gut.
4 – Blames and threatens. When things go wrong, does your partner blame you? Are all past relationship problems completely an ex-partner’s fault? Does your partner regularly blame a parent or a boss or a co-worker for problems without ever taking responsibility? Maybe your partner randomly accuses you of having an affair or of some other offense that you haven’t done. Abusers want to feel superior to others, and blaming is one way to accomplish that. Threatening is another way an abusive person feels in control and intimidates a partner. If your partner threatens to hurt you or your family, that’s a major red flag. If your partner threatens to harm himself or herself or threatens to commit suicide if you don’t do what he/she says, that’s also a red flag you shouldn’t ignore. If your partner threatens to leave you and take your children so you can’t see them or threatens to harm your children, that’s also a red flag you can’t ignore.
5 – Verbal or physical or sexual violence. Any time a partner screams insults at you, curses you, or makes you feel belittled, that’s verbal abuse and could escalate to physical violence. If your partner gets angry and punches a wall or throws things or breaks things, that’s a huge red flag that physical violence is a possibility. And if your partner physically hurts you or forces you to have any kind of sex or touches you when you don’t want to be touched, you’re already being abused. Even if it’s only happened once or twice or even if you weren’t “really hurt,” it’s still domestic abuse.
If you notice any of these warning signs in your relationship, we encourage you to find someone to talk to – whether it’s a trusted friend or family member or a professional. Abusers are often really good at hiding who they really are, so even your closest friends and family may not see what’s going on. Trust your gut. If you’re afraid you’re being abused, that’s a pretty good sign that your relationship isn’t a healthy one. And the longer you stay, the more danger you’re in and the more difficult it will be to get out.
You deserve a safe, respectful, healthy relationship. If you feel like your relationship isn’t safe or respectful or healthy, we’re available to help you. Call us, and we can refer you to professionals or organizations with the resources and guidance you need.