Warning Signs of a Violent Relationship


People who are violent may do many things to have more power and control over their victims. Interpersonal violence is not the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. A person who has been abusive in the past is likely to become abusive again.

Remember that no one ever deserves to be abused. A person is never responsible for another’s abusive actions. People who are either abusive or becoming abusive may show one or more of the following warning signs or red flags.

  • Embarrassing you or putting you down
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Being jealous of time you spend with family, friends, children
  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions
  • Threatening to harm or take away your children
  • Preventing you from working or going to school
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Blaming you for (abuser/s) problems
  • Acting like the abuse is not really happening
  • Having sudden mood changes
  • Destroying or threatening to destroy your property
  • Throwing objects
  • Threatening to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives, or other weapons
  • Shoving, slapping, choking, or hitting you
  • Attempting to stop you from pressing charges
  • Telling you that you are unable to live without them
  • Threatening to commit suicide because of something you have done
  • Threatening to hurt or kill you (e.g., “I’ll break your neck.”)
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you do not want to do
  • Pressuring you to do things sexually that you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Preventing you from using birth control
  • Pressuring you to become pregnant when you’re not ready
  • Holding you down or using any other type of force during an argument

Additional Warning Signs for Women with Disabilities

The red flags of abuse are the same for everyone, however, a disabled woman may experience non-traditional signs such as a person in her life who:

  • Tells her that she is “not allowed” to have a flare up of her health condition
  • Steals or withholds her Social Security Disability or other disability payments
  • Tells her that she is a bad parent or could never be a parent because she has a disability
  • Makes her question her disability such as saying, “You’re faking it,” or “It’s all in your head.”
  • Uses her disability to shame or humiliate her
  • Refuses to help her with getting out of bed or with other necessary life tasks that they previously had agreed to do
  • Withholds or threatens to withhold her medication; purposefully over-medicates her, or mixes her medications in a dangerous or non-prescribed way
  • Pushes sexual activity when she either does not want it or is unable to consent
  • Withholds, damages, or breaks her assistive devices
  • Does not allow her to see her doctor or other healthcare provider
  • Threatens to tell others about her disability without permission
  • Threatens to harm or harms her service animal
  • Uses her disability as an excuse for the abuse; tells her that she “deserves” abuse because of her disability



If you are in immediate danger, call 911. 

For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Help available in English and Spanish.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Deaf Hotline: Disabled People

SAFE Disability Services