The Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

The following is a list of warning signs for potentially abusive relationships. They are presented as guidelines to help you identify issues that may need attention.

Psychological/emotional/financial abuse

  • Makes demeaning jokes or degrading and belittling comments
  • Puts you down, excessively criticizes
  • Ignores feelings or opinions (e.g. things always have to be done their way)
  • Tells lies
  • Insults
  • Intimidates (e.g. gives you “the look”)
  • Refuses to communicate (e.g. silent treatment)
  • Uses sarcasm and an unpleasant tone of voice
  • Withdraws affection
  • Manipulates (e.g. “If you don’t…., I will…” “If you love me, you would ….”)
  • Constantly calls or texts when you are apart
  • Gets jealous of friends, relatives, or co-workers, makes unjust accusations
  • Controls finances, activities, sleep, dress, all schedules
  • Takes your money or takes advantage of you in other ways
  • Isolates you from family, friends, jobs, school, church
  • Yells/screams
  • Steals
  • Blames/accuses (e.g. “It’s all your fault…” “If you would only…”)
  • Stalks online or in real life
  • Makes threats
  • Damages possessions
  • Threatens suicide


  • Scratches
  • Pinches
  • Pulls hair
  • Pushes/shoves
  • Chokes
  • Cuts
  • Slaps
  • Bites
  • Punches
  • Throws Objects
  • Kicks
  • Hits
  • Denies you medical care
  • Uses weapons (guns, knives, tools, etc) to injure or threaten you or children


  • Makes embarrassing sexual comments
  • Dominates: displays superiority
  • Touches/grabs against your will
  • Pressures you to have any kind of sex
  • Treats you like a sex object
  • Sexually manipulates you
  • Forces you to look at pornography
  • Makes threats or is intimidating if you say “no”
  • Controls birth control methods/use
  • Pressures you to get pregnant
  • Sexually mutilates you
  • Physically forces sexual activity/rapes

Some other cues that might indicate an abusive relationship might include:

  • You feel afraid to break up with them.
  • You feel tied down, feel like you have to check-in.
  • You feel afraid to make decisions or to bring up certain subjects so that the other person won’t get mad.
  • You tell yourself that if you just try harder and love your partner enough that everything will be just fine.
  • You find yourself crying a lot, being depressed or unhappy.
  • You find yourself worrying and obsessing about how to please your partner and keep them happy.
  • You find the physical or emotional abuse getting worse over time.
  • You blame yourself for everything that goes wrong.
  • You sometimes feel scared of your partner.
  • You feel like your partner is never happy with you.
  • You have a hard time maintaining relationships with friends, relatives, or co-workers.
  • You feel trapped at home, unable to work or go to school or other activities because of your partner.
  • You make excuses for the way your partner acts.
  • You feel like your partner keeps you from having access to cash, bank accounts, or important documents that you might need.

Remember, you have many options. If you need help or would like to speak with someone about domestic violence, confidential help is available 24 hours a day by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


If you’re afraid for your safety, call 9-1-1 immediately!

The information provided is a compilation derived from a variety of sources including: Domestic Abuse Project, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, Lifewire and Love is respect.