Warning Signs

What are the warning signs I should be looking for?

This list identifies a series of behaviors typically demonstrated by batterers and abusive people. All of these forms of abuse - psychological, economic, and physical - come from the batterer's desire for power and control. The list can help you recognize if you or someone you know is in a violent relationship. Check off those behaviors that apply to the relationship. The more checks on the page, the more dangerous the situation may be.


  • Destructive Criticism/Verbal Attacks:  Name-calling; mocking; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures.


  • Pressure Tactics:  Rushing you to make decision through "guilt-tripping" and other forms of intimidation; sulking; threatening to withhold money; manipulating the children; telling you what to do.


  • Abusing Authority:  Always claiming to be right (insisting statements are "the truth"); bossing you around; making big decisions; using "logic."


  • Disrespect:  Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting your words; putting you down in front of other people; saying bad things about your friends and family.


  • Abusing Trust:  Lying; withholding information; cheating on you; being overly jealous.


  • Breaking Promises:  Not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with child care or housework.


  • Emotional Withholding:  Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention, or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights, or opinions.


  • Minimizing, Denying & Blaming:  Making light of behavior and not taking your concerns about it seriously; saying the abuse didn't happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying you caused it.


  • Economic Control:  Interfering with your work or not letting you work; refusing to give you or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; threatening to report you to welfare or other social service agencies.


  • Self-Destructive Behavior:  Abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm; deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off the boss).


  • Isolation:  Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go.