It is not always easy to tell whether a relationship will become abusive.  Controlling and abusive behaviors often emerge over time and may increase in intensity and frequency as the relationship develops.  Furthermore, domestic violence doesn’t always look the same from one relationship to the next.  The behaviors of abuse can vary.  Victims of domestic violence should never be blamed for not recognizing an abusive situation from the beginning of the relationship. 

With this in mind, there are some behaviors that are more common in abusive partners and can be a sign that the relationship is unsafe or not healthy.  This list identifies some of those behaviors and feelings, though it is not all-inclusive.  For more information on identifying abuse and distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy relationships, see the links at the bottom of this list.

Some common signs of an abusive relationship include having a partner who:

  • limits or prevents your communication with friends and family
  • puts you down, calls you names, or humiliates you
  • tells you that you are crazy
  • does not honor your boundaries or wishes
  • monitors your phone or computer usage
  • wants to know where you are all the time
  • is excessively jealous or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • controls how you spend your money
  • controls your use of birth control, medicine, or healthcare
  • damages your property
  • blames you for their anger or outbursts
  • threatens to hurt you, your loved ones, or your pets
  • threatens to take away your children
  • threatens to harm themselves if you leave or upset them
  • uses weapons (guns, knives, or other objects) to intimidate you
  • pressures you to participate in sexual acts that you are not comfortable with
  • slaps, pushes, chokes, or hits you

If you are experiencing any of these signs and want to talk to someone, please call the Portland Women’s Crisis Line (PWCL) at 503-235-5333 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Additional Resources:

The Joyful Heart Foundation's summary of abusive behaviors

Love is Respect's healthy relationship quiz's look at healthy versus unhealthy relationships

The National Domestic Violence Hotline's healthy relationships page