What Are Warning Signs?
In regards to domestic violence, a warning sign, also known as a “red flag”, indicates potential danger.
In many abusive relationships, the warning signs are evident relatively early on in the relationship, but may only become clear in hindsight or be easier for others to see. A red flag is often swept under the carpet, ignored or wrongly explained. However, most abuse in relationships is preceded by some warning signs. They may be very subtle at first and slowly increase to full blown abuse as the relationship goes on.
Often, an abuser will initially try to explain their behaviour as signs of their love and concern, but as time goes on the behaviours become more severe. As a result, the victim will slowly change to accommodate their partner and avoid conflict.
To help you see red flags in your relationship, go through this check-list. The more “yes” answers you have, the more potential warning signs there are in your relationship.
- Idolising you in the early stages and pressuring you to commit very quickly.
- Expecting you to spend all of your time with them, and saying things like “I am all you need and you are all I need”.
- Expecting you to check in with them so they know where you are, or grilling you about where you were when not with them.
- Constant messaging and calls.
- Blaming others for their problems without taking any responsibility.
- Advising you how to dress without you asking for advice.
- Becoming extremely worried or angry when you are late.
- Acting jealously and/or possessively over you.
- Isolating you by controlling where you go, who you see and who you talk to.
- Regularly putting you down or making you feel insecure.
- Putting down everyone you know and/or accusing you of cheating. They may say things like “your family is too controlling or they don’t really love you” or “your friends are using you”.
- Refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Blaming you, drugs or alcohol, their past and/or stress for their actions.
- Blowing things out of proportion or blaming others for their feelings.
- Disrespectful of others or insensitive to their pain.
- Very hot and cold – nice one minute and exploding the next.
- Using physical force or intimidating behaviour during an argument.
- Holding you to unrealistic expectations.
Take our quiz here to answer more questions that may help you identify warning signs in your relationship.
You may find it helpful to keep a journal (hidden somewhere safe) of any words or behaviours they don’t feel quite right. This could help you to identify any patterns that may be present.
If, after reading this page, you are beginning to think that you may be in an abusive relationship or you were in the past and would like to get help, please visit this page for more information.
This short film was made by ACON in 2016 to highlight more subtle, but increasing, forms of abuse that serve as warning signs, or what we sometimes call “red flags”. All abusive relationships start with red flags, which are warning signs of potential and/or future abuse.