42 Domestic Violence Warning Signs

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What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence comes in all sizes and shapes, because every relationship is different. Domestic violence warning signs likewise vary from one situation to another. But all domestic violence includes some kind of willful harm against a partner, whether that’s physical or sexual assault, psychological manipulation, emotional abuse, financial restraint, or a combination of behaviors.

Ultimately the reason that domestic violence occurs is that one partner wants to control another, and they are willing to use aggression and manipulation to do so.

It’s not always easy to tell when a relationship has become abusive, especially because a partner’s violent or controlling tendencies often emerge slowly, escalating throughout the relationship. Victims may dismiss abusive behaviors as a normal part of their partner’s personality. A victim may also continually adapt to increasing levels of abuse. For this reason, it’s important to take domestic abuse warning signs very seriously and not second-guess yourself.

If you have a feeling that you or a loved one may be in an abusive relationship, here are some of the domestic violence warning signs to watch for. If you check off one or more of these red flags, you should consider seeking help.

42 Domestic Violence Warning Signs:

Signs of Physical Abuse

  1. Hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, choking or slapping you
  2. Using weapons to inflict harm or threaten you
  3. Controlling what you eat or when you sleep
  4. Forcing you to do work against your will
  5. Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  6. Stopping you from seeking medical treatment or calling the police

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  1. Attacking your sense of self worth
  2. Insulting you, calling you names, criticizing you, humiliating you
  3. Acting jealous or possessive, accusing you of being with other partners
  4. Withholding affection or acknowledgement in order to punish you
  5. Cheating on you intentionally
  6. Lying to you

Signs of Psychological Abuse

  1. Threatening to hurt you, your loved ones, your pets, your children, or your possessions
  2. Controlling the time you spend with others, or monitoring where you go
  3. Controlling what you wear, often with the accusation that you attract too much attention
  4. Damaging or stealing your belongings
  5. Blaming you for the abuse, saying that you deserve what happens or that you instigated the problem
  6. Gaslighting, i.e. saying things to make you question your perception of reality, such as “That never happened, you never remember correctly,” or “Don’t get angry over such little things, you’re too sensitive.”

Signs of Sexual Abuse & Coercion

  1. Forcing or manipulating you to perform sexual acts
  2. Demanding sex when you’re not willing or able
  3. Harming you during sex by choking, holding or striking you
  4. Forcing you to watch pornography
  5. Insulting you in sexual ways

Signs of Reproductive Coercion

  1. Refusing to use a condom or other method of birth control
  2. Refusing to let you use birth control medication or devices
  3. Sabotaging birth control efforts such as poking holes in condoms, swapping out birth control pills, not pulling out, forcibly removing an IUD, etc.
  4. Forcing you to become pregnant
  5. Forcing you to have an abortion, or preventing you from getting one, regardless of your wishes

Signs of Financial Abuse

  1. Preventing you from having access to bank accounts with your money
  2. Only permitting you to spend from an allowance
  3. Monitoring how you spend money and deciding what can or cannot buy
  4. Stealing your money or using your savings without your permission
  5. Refusing to contribute to shared expenses such as rent, food, childcare, etc.

Signs of Digital Abuse

  1. Sending you insulting or threatening messages over text, email or social media
  2. Using social media sites like Facebook to track what you are doing and where you are
  3. Demanding you send sexually explicit photos or videos of yourself, or sending you their own
  4. Looking through your phone and checks your call history, texts, pictures, etc.
  5. Ordering you to not turn off your phone or punishing you when you don’t answer

Signs of Stalking

  1. Following you
  2. Spying on you, including cyber stalking
  3. Sending you unwanted packages, letters, texts, or messages
  4. Calling you at home or at work after you’ve told them to not to contact you


What Should I Do If I’m Being Abused?

If you’ve witnessed any of the domestic violence warning signs, it’s important to recognize that domestic violence is not normal, and no human being ever deserves to be abused. There is no shame in seeking help or looking for an escape. You are not responsible for what has happened, but you are responsible for what happens next. You have the power to help yourself.

At LiveYourDream.org’s Resource Page we’ve listed some valuable links to help your get the support you need.

Who Should I Call for Help?

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please CALL 911.

For crisis and counseling services, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Hotline advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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