Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

Below are a few warning signs to help you or a loved one identify a potentially violent relationship.

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.


What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence (DV) is abuse or aggression that occurs within a household and can be between a parent and child, siblings, roommates or a romantic partner. Many have moved to using the phrase Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) which is violence that only occurs between romantic partners who may or may not live together. House of Ruth serves people who have experienced DV or IPV.


Types of Violent Behaviors

Physical Violence: when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.

Sexual Violence: forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g. sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.

Stalking: a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Financial Abuse: include tactics to conceal information, limit a person’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances.

Psychological Aggression: the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or to exert control over a partner.

Are you experiencing or think you may be experiencing any of these signs?

Call House of Ruth’s intake line for help at 202-667-7001 ext. 320 or email us at intake@houseofruth.org.

To help continue the work needed to assist survivors of domestic abuse, donate to House of Ruth today.

Signs of a Potentially Violent Partner or Significant Other


  • They want to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Early on in the relationship, they flatter you constantly.
  • The relationship seems “too good to be true”.
  • They want you all to themself and may insist that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
  • They insist that you stop participating in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, quit school, or quit your job.
  • They do not honor your boundaries or give you ultimatums.
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
  • They want to know where you are all of the time and frequently call, email, and/or text you.
  • They criticize or put you down.
  • They take no responsibility for their behavior and blame others.
  • They have a history of abusing others.
  • They blame the entire failure of previous relationships on a former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.”
  • They take your money or create credit card debt.
  • They rage out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.


*Adapted from National Network to End Domestic Violence

  • They control what you’re doing.
  • They check your phone, email, or social networks without your permission.
  • They force you to have sex when you don’t want to.
  • They control your birth control or insist that you get pregnant.
  • They decide what you wear or eat or how you spend money.
  • They prevent or discourage you from going to work or school or seeing your family or friends.
  • They humiliate you on purpose in front of others.
  • They unfairly accuse you of being unfaithful.
  • Destroys your things.
  • They threaten to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, or your pets.
  • They hurt you physically (e.g., hitting, beating, punching, pushing, kicking), including with a weapon.
  • Blames you for their violent outbursts.
  • They threaten to hurt themselves because of being upset with you.
  • They threaten to report you to the authorities for imagined crimes.
  • They say things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can.”


*Adapted from www.womenshealth.gov