Love isn’t blind: Learn to recognize the red flags and early warning signs of an abusive relationship

Most people assume all relationships have their ups and downs and can be tough work at times. With this assumption, many may not realize they are in an abusive relationship or ignore the early warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship. Looking and acknowledging the bad stuff in your relationship can be painfully difficult but could save you a lot of heart ache in the end. To help determine whether you are in an abusive relationship or potentially about to enter one, consider the following red flags.
  • Getting involved too quickly. Someone who gets too close too fast. They may claim they never felt love like this before and pressure you to commit to exclusivity almost immediately. They may rush marriage or living together.
  • Excessive jealousy, possessiveness, or controlling behavior. They might excuse jealousy as a sign of love. They may call constantly or visit unexpectedly to know your whereabouts.
  • Someone who isolates you from friends and family or accuses them of causing trouble so you cut ties. They may question and accuse you of flirting or cheating to prevent you from going out and or spending time with kids, family, or friends.
  • Unrealistic expectations of perfection at all times no matter how unreasonable. They may say things like, “if you love me then you will….” or “if you love me I’m the only one you need”.
  • Hypersensitivity, blaming others, and not taking personal responsibility for feelings. This is someone who is easily insulted and blames others for problems where it’s always someone else’s fault. They minimize, deny, or blame by making light of abuse and not taking concerns about abuse seriously. They may deny that abuse even happened or shift responsibility for abusive behavior by saying you caused it. They may say, “you made me angry” or “you hurt my feelings.” They might be chronically unemployed and always complaining about someone doing them wrong or that others are out to get them.
  • Verbal abuse or constant criticism by saying cruel and hurtful things towards you or others. They may make degrading statements, curse at you, call you ugly names, or run down your accomplishments.
  • Involving children in conflict to relay messages or threatening to take children away.
  • Frequent and sudden mood swings that quickly switch from sweet to explosively violent.
  • A history of abusive behaviors or previous partners, relatives, or they themselves admit to hitting a partner in the past but you find that they blame it on someone or something else.
  • Cruelty to children or animals including excessive punishment, hurting, or even killing. They show a lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others. They might expect children to be capable of doing things above their ability.
  • Displays or threats of physical violence or force to control. Examples include breaking or striking objects, breaking your possessions, hitting the wall or furniture, throwing objects, throwing you down, holding you against your will, forcing you to kiss or have sex, and not accepting the word no as an answer. They may sulk or use anger to manipulate compliance. If it’s at this point then it’s time to get out and get help.
To learn more about domestic violence and how to seek help for you or someone you know visit or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Refer to the power and control wheel below as a quick reference and informational resource for yourself or someone you know who may be in an abusive relationship.

Written by 

Mara holds a Master of Arts degree from Dallas Baptist University and a Bachelors of Arts Degree from University of Texas at Dallas. Mara has experience working with children, adolescents and adults and is warm, confidential and non judgemental. Mara has worked with people adjusting to change, victims of domestic violence and trauma, people experiencing anxiety and depression, refugees and victims of human trafficking, people experiencing work and family stresses, persons with mental illness, and people wanting to better understand their emotions and experience personal growth. Mara uses a variety of technques to help individuals clarify goals, take steps toward personal growth, better understand situations and conflicts, gain new perspectives, and experience resolution of conflicts and concerns.