How Can You Identify Domestic Violence?

It can be extremely difficult to recognize when abuse is happening - whether you are being abused, or you are the abuser.

Introspective analysis from time to time is incredibly healthy, if not critical, to the success of a relationship. Being self-aware and honest with yourself strengthens your perspective and buffers your resistance to positive change. We understand it can be difficult to come to terms with poor behavior, and even more challenging to accept when you may have been abused or abusive toward your partner. We believe it is imperative, however, to look inward and sincerely consider your and your partner’s actions.


You May Be In An Abusive Relationship If Your Partner...

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right

  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away

  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members

  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs

  • Controls every penny spent in the household

  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses

  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you

  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do

  • Prevents you from making your own decisions

  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children

  • Prevents you from working or attending school

  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets

  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons

  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with

  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

You May Be Hurting Your Partner If You...

  • Get angry or insecure about your partner’s relationships with others (friends, family, coworkers) and feel possessive

  • Frequently call and text to check up on your partner, or have them check in with you

  • Check up on your partner in different ways (e.g. reading their personal emails, checking their texts)

  • Feel like your partner needs to ask your permission to go out, get a job, go to school or spend time with others

  • Get angry when your partner doesn’t act the way you want them to or do what you want them to

  • Blame your anger on drugs, alcohol, or your partner’s actions

  • Find it very difficult to control your anger and calm down

  • Express your anger by threatening to hurt your partner, or actually physically doing so

  • Express your anger verbally through raising your voice, name calling or using put-downs

  • Forbid your partner from spending money, or require that they have an allowance and keep receipts of their spending

  • Force or attempt to force your partner to be intimate with you

  • Blow up in anger at small incidents or “mistakes” your partner makes

Consider How your Partner Reacts. Do They...

  • Seem nervous around you?

  • Seem afraid of you?

  • Cringe or move away from you when you’re angry?

  • Cry because of something you don’t let them do, or something you made them do?

  • Seem scared or unable to contradict you or speak up about something?

  • Restrict their own interaction with friends, coworkers or family in order to avoid displeasing you?

If you think you may have engaged in any of these behaviors then you may be hurting your partner. There are people and literature to help support your efforts in making a positive change, but you must first hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for your behavior. You must also be prepared for the possible dissolve of the relationship.

Is This Really Happening?

We understand that not only is it difficult to identify cases of domestic violence, but it is also extremely difficult, and isolating, to clearly see or understand what may be happening around you and within your relationship. If you or someone you know needs assistance, we strongly encourage you to seek help by using one or more of the references listed on our resources page. You may also want to visit our Glossary of Terminology, which can help provide clarity in an otherwise foggy state of perception.

Having the Conversation

Taking these and other resources into the community and by inviting fellow advocates and professionals to participate in our programs, we continue our efforts to strengthen the dialogue on domestic violence. Visit our Programs + Outreach page to learn more about these efforts and how we are exploring topics and issues related to domestic violence.

Glossary of Terminology

Throughout this site, and perhaps in your own research, you may have come across certain terms used to describe methods or situations of, or conditions that result from, domestic violence. We have compiled an extensive list of these terms that you may find helpful. 

Where Can I Find Help?

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, or if you think you may be harming your partner, there are resources available in your community and nationally that can provide support and assistance.                                


Huge thanks to our colleagues at The National Domestic Violence Hotline for providing much of the information used in the above list of warning signs.