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Red Flags

STOP Violence Program

Abusive relationships don't start out violent -- if they did, victims would never stay in them! However, there are some behaviors that happen early in relationships that indicate that the relationship may become abusive:

Stick figure waving a red flag

  • Jealousy and Possessiveness - Says you “belong” to them. Treats you as property. Accuses you of cheating or being "into" other people. Thinks jealousy is love. Get jealous of the time you spend with family or friends.

  • Invasive - Doesn’t respect your privacy. Doesn’t let you have alone time or time without them. Goes through your things (emails, text messages, and personal items).

  • Controlling - Tells you what to wear, how to act and who to see. Tells you to feel a certain way.

  • Demanding - Has unrealistic expectations of you. Expects you to put them first, but doesn't do the same for you.

  • Critical - Puts down people you care about. Tells you aren’t good enough. Belittles your interests, appearance, intelligence and opinions. Puts you down or embarrasses and shames you in front of others.

  • Lack of responsibility - Blames others (including you) for their feelings and behavior. Uses past experience to justify current behavior (a "crazy" ex-partner, an abusive childhood).

  • Hypersensitive - Easily offended. Has no problem criticizing you, but can't take criticism.

  • Dual personality - Extremely moody. Can quickly switch from extreme anger to apologies and gentleness.

  • The relationship moves quickly - An abuser may tell you very early in the relationship that they love you, or talk about marriage or moving in together very soon after the relationship starts.

  • Believes in traditional gender roles - a male abuser in a heterosexual relationship may not allow his partner to pay for dinner or anything when they go out, or may expect his partner to quit school or her job now that they are in a relationship. An abuser in a same sex relationship may expect their partner to take on a traditional gender role; someone is the "wife."
  • Expects sexual intimacy - May see sex as something that is given in exchange ("I got you a gift, you owe me") or pressure a partner into sexual behavior. Doesn't respect your boundaries.

The presence of red flags doesn't mean that a relationship is definitely going to become abusive. But whether or not abuse is in the future, a relationship where one partner exhibits any of these behaviors is unhealthy.

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