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Warning Signs of Abuse

Does your partner…

  • Call you names?
  • Get jealous when you go out with friends or check up on you?
  • Tell you what to wear or make decisions for you?
  • Frequently accuse you of cheating on him/her?
  • Hit you, shove you or show a weapon to you?
  • Control your finances?
  • Threaten to hurt or kill someone you know?
  • Threaten to hurt or kill your pet?
  • Blame you for his/her problems?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be in an unhealthy and/or abusive relationship. There can be warning flags that a relationship is not healthy. Other warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Jealousy
  • Controlling Behavior
  • Quick Involvement
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Isolation
  • Blaming others for problems or feelings
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Cruelty to Animals or Children
  • “Playful” Use of Force in Sex
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Rigid Sex Roles
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Past Battering
  • Threats of Violence
  • Breaking or Striking Objects
  • Any Force During an Argument

You are not alone and support is available.

Dove, Inc. provides a 24-hour confidential hotline where you can talk about your relationship and discuss safety issues and concerns.

It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for your partner’s actions or words.


Games Batterers Play
Abusers will often use different tactics to manipulate the victim and obtain and maintain power and control in the relationship. The following list provides examples of such manipulation tactics.

Threats of suicide: Occasionally attempts are made, but rarely succeed. Makes victim feel responsible for their partner’s well being.

Threats to kill victim or the children: Certainly the most fear producing threat. May involve hunting for the victim or brandishing weapons. Can produce paralyzing fear.

Threaten mythical legal actions and sanctions: the most common threat is taking away child custody because of desertion.

Harass or threaten relatives or friends: makes victim feel responsible for the safety of these people. Often follows through with this threat.

Burns clothes or belongings: a symbolic gesture, which alternatively enrages and depresses the victim.

Organizes a posse of relatives and friends, including in-laws, to search for and convince the victim of her/his mistake: can be very overwhelming and powerful.

Reports that the abuser (or a close friend or relative) has been in a car accident and has been hospitalized: this fake report is very effective in flushing a victim from hiding and leaving them off guard for other tricks.

Crying, saying he/she can’t live without the victim: guilt and a sense of responsibility for abuser’s life is difficult to shake.

Promise to get counseling: usually won’t follow through, but sometimes will go only to focus on how to get the victim back. Will usually discontinue when and if victim returns home. Couples counseling is very dangerous for victims of domestic violence and is strongly discouraged.

Makes promises in general: won’t hit again, will clean house, give up drinking or drugs, get rid of guns, go to work, etc.

Develops psychosomatic complaints: can’t eat, can’t sleep, nausea, etc. Again, guilt and responsibility make it tough to ignore.

These are only a few of the many possible “games” batterers may play. Victims who have not been helped to anticipate these “games” could quite effectively be forced to return to unchanged situations, only to find the threats and promises very short-lived. (adapted from Susan Swala, RDVIC, Morgantown,; Domestic Violence Project at WMLS/Americorps Spring 2003 Western Massachusetts Legal Services, Inc. 152 North Street, Suite E M, Pittsfield, MA 01201)