Have you ever found yourself making excuses for your spouse’s behavior? Do you make excuses to your family members when you’re invited to functions, or have been afraid to talk to your husband when he’s “in a bad mood?” While these things may seem perfectly reasonable once in a while, repeated control of a significant other—whether they are married, dating, or living together—is the gateway to an abusive relationship.

There are usually many warning signs of abuse in a relationship long before any physical injury takes place. These early behaviors are not only warning signs of future violence, they are actual forms of abuse—and are reasons to put as much distance as possible between you and the abuser.

Early Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

  • Telling someone who she can or cannot see, keeping a person out of work or away from social gatherings, and making the person leave functions early.
  • Spying or intrusive behavior, such as listening in on phone calls, reading text messages, or hacking into a person’s social media account.
  • Tracking someone’s movements on Facebook, checking the mileage on their car, or repeatedly calling or texting when the person is away from home.
  • Jealousy or overly possessive behavior. This is often excused as “loving the other person too much.”
  • Humiliating the other person by calling him names, correcting her in front of her friends, criticizing or nitpicking her actions, or making her feel as if there is something wrong with her.
  • Threatening to hurt the other person in the relationship, or her friends, family members, children or pets.
  • Angry outbursts that result in broken objects or destruction of the victim’s belongings.
  • Touching other person in ways that scare her—such as restraining her or pulling her away from others.
  • Engaging in sex acts that are uncomfortable, painful, or frightening for the other person.
  • Showing a different personality at home than in public.
  • Blaming others—including the victim—for everything, that goes wrong, or makes him angry.
  • Dismissing a partner’s concerns about the relationship as paranoid, stupid, or unimportant.

If you do not see any of these specific actions, remember that domestic abuse is about control. If someone is repeatedly trying to control you or a family member, it could be an early warning sign of domestic abuse. To get help, click the link at the top of this page to let us know how we may contact you privately.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington