Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

A blog post providing a list of abuse warning signs, even when someone is “just joking.”


When 1 in 3 women, 1 and 4 men, and 1 in 2 transgender and nonbinary people experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, it affects the whole community. As a result, we need a whole community response to stop abuse!

Domestic abuse is a form of violence. It is a pattern of behaviors that one person uses to purposefully gain power and control over the other person in a romantic or family relationship. This makes the other person unable to make decisions and choices for themselves, to set boundaries, and/or to give or take away consent or permission. Abuse often gets worse, or more severe and more frequent.

Many people think that domestic violence is just physical, but that is not the case. Violence can also be verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, digital, and stalking. Some survivors never experience physical or sexual violence, but these forms of violence are often used as threats.

What are some warning signs of an abusive relationship? Even if someone is “just joking” when they choose to take these actions, the other partner may feel isolated, scared, and threatened.

Is your partner:

  • Insulting or humiliating you, in public or private?
  • Making everything about jealousy or acting possessive?
  • Often accusing you of cheating?
  • Pressuring you to dress a certain way?
  • Gaslighting you? This could sound like: denying that they did something, “You’re overreacting,” and “You’re too sensitive. Can’t you take a joke?”
  • Pressuring or forcing you to engage in sexual activity?
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking to your support system (family and friends)
  • Making you feel guilty about going to events or doing things without them?
  • Limiting your access to money or giving you an allowance?
  • Controlling your access or tracking your phone or social media?
  • Hurting or threatening to hurt you, children, pets, other family or friends, or themselves?

LOVE Shouldn’t Hurt! Everyone has a responsibility for their own behavior. Abuse is never the survivor’s fault.

Call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 Helpline at 866.685.1122 if you are in crisis or need supportive listening, information about DV or our free services, or help with safety planning to stay in or leave a relationship.

Our videos about the 7 Warning Signs are available here to watch in English and Spanish.