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Signs of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse encompasses a range of controlling behaviors. Abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, and/or financial. If you or a friend experience any of these forms of abuse, know that it is not your fault and there are people ready to help you. If you believe someone you know may be experiencing abuse, offer your non-judgmental support and help.


Some “red flag” behaviors include:

  • Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Early in the relationship flatters you constantly, and seems “too good to be true.”
  • Wants you all to him- or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
  • Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, quit school, or quit your job.
  • Does not honor your boundaries.
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day.
  • Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.
  • Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others.
  • Has a history of abusing others.
  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.”
  • Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt.
  • Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.

*adapted from National Network to End Domestic Violence

Additional “red flags” to watch for:

  • Controls what you’re doing.
  • Checks your phone, email, or social networks without your permission.
  • Forces you to have sexual intercourse when you don’t want to.
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant.
  • Decides what you wear or eat or how you spend money.
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing your family or friends.
  • Humiliates you on purpose in front of others.
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • Destroys your things.
  • Threatens to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, or your pets.
  • Hurts you physically (e.g., hitting, beating, punching, pushing, kicking), including with a weapon.
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts.
  • Threatens to hurt herself or himself because of being upset with you.
  • Threatens to report you to the authorities for imagined crimes.
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can.”

*Adapted from www.womenshealth.gov


To get help, call our intake line at 202-667-7001 ext. 320 or email us at intake@houseofruth.org.

To help survivors of domestic abuse, donate to House of Ruth today.