Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
In this day and age, it seems that everything has a warning label on it. My blow dryer warns me not to use it while in the bath, because of the risk of electrical shock. Many prescription or over the counter medicines warn us to keep them out of the reach of children. Abusers, however, do not come with warning labels plastered across their heads. But there are warning signs that you can look for to avoid becoming a victim of domestic abuse.
15 Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse
1. The relationship moves at a very fast pace.
If the person you are with becomes attached very quickly and wants you to seriously commit to the relationship after just a short period of time, this should send up a red flag. Sometimes it is flattering when they want to spend every waking moment with you. But they should never pressure you to move at a pace that you aren't comfortable with.
2. Monitoring your every move.
This includes checking your cell phone or email without your permission, showing up at your workplace, school or home unannounced, checking the mileage on your car, using technology & social networking sites to track you, or use other people to check-in on you. Many would consider this stalking but the abuser may try to play it off as being concerned about you.
3. Extreme jealousy.
Sometimes this takes form in being resentful of your accomplishments, friendships, hobbies or anything that takes your focus off of them. It also presents itself as a suspicion of unfaithfulness, even if you have never given them any reason to doubt your fidelity.
4. Making false accusations.
Have you ever been accused of flirting, cheating, lying, or not being fully committed to the relationship when you haven't done any of those things? This is a warning sign that the person wants to start a fight, even if they have to make something up to justify their actions.
5. Isolating you from family or friends.
This one is tough to see right away, because it is often done in subtle ways. The abuser may accuse you of not spending enough time with them because you're too busy with other relationships. They may accuse your friends or family members of being a negative influence on the relationship, causing you to distrust the very people who love you the most. Perhaps they ask you to delete your Facebook profile or quit your job. Systematically, the abuser will remove your support system so that they are the only person you have to rely on.
6. Telling you what to do.
Telling you what to wear, where to go, when you have to be home, how to spend your money, who you can hang out with or talk to, when or if you can have a child, are all signs of control. In a healthy relationship you should make these types of decisions as a couple, with both of you willing to make compromises.
If they treat you like property instead of a person, this is a giant red flag to get out of this relationship! Even if you are married, your spouse does not "own" you.
8. Being destructive of property.
For example: throwing items, punching walls or purposely destroying your possessions are all signs of emotional abuse. These are tactics used to intimidate you.
9. Explosive temper or being hypersensitive.
An abusive person is easily insulted, perceiving the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. Blowing up over the smallest infractions is a serious warning sign.
10. Not taking responsibility for actions or emotions.
It is a classic sign of abuse when a person blames someone else for all of their problems or shortcomings. An abuser will manipulate you with feelings, making you responsible for their emotions and even the abuse. "You control how I feel." "I wouldn't have had to hit you if you had just listened to me." Someone who truly loves you would never say these things.
11. Mood Swings.
Abusers are often compared to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is charming, congenial and overall a good guy that no one would ever expect to be abusive. Beware if he suddenly changes into Mr. Hyde, who is full of rage and violence.
12. Constantly putting you down.
An abusive person will attack you any way they can. Constant criticism about the way you walk, talk, laugh, cook, clean, dress, drive, raise your children, or sexual performance are multiple ways an abuser could verbally assault you. "You would never survive without me." "I'm the only one who will ever love you." These comments will take a toll on your self-esteem and may take years to heal from.
13. Cruelty towards animals or children.
My mom was in an abusive relationship before she met my dad. She knew it was time to get out when she saw her abuser beat a puppy with a 2X4 for simply having an accident on the floor. The abusive person may expect children to perform beyond their capability or tease them until they cry. Please, if anyone ever abuses your child or a child you know, stand up for that child and get them away from that abuse as soon as possible.
14. Pressuring or forcing you to have sex.
"If you love me, you'll have sex with me." Real love doesn't use guilt or force to make you do anything that you're not comfortable with. It is your body, your choice and it doesn't matter if you're drunk, wearing provocative clothing, or even married to the person. No means no. If they don't respect that, then you should definitely end the relationship.
15. Physically hurting you in any way.
Pushing, shoving, holding you down or restraining you, scratching, biting, hair pulling, slapping, punching, kicking, strangulation, or using an object as a weapon are all ways that you can be physically hurt. This is probably the most obvious warning sign that you're in an abusive relationship, but unfortunately by the time you reach this point there have been a myriad of red flags that have been overlooked. Still, it is never too late to leave.
If there is more than one of these signs present in the relationship I suggest you seek immediate help. Above all else, trust your instincts. Even if the abuser doesn't display all or any of these signs and you feel something is not right, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, make sure you have an organized and safe plan for getting out of the relationship. If you need help call the Domestic Violence National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you have any questions or want more information check out these websites: