Beware – domestic violence red flags

Spot the red flags in domestic violence

abused woman - She missed the domestic violence red flags
She missed the domestic violence red flags — Photo by Pexels

To honour National Domestic Violence Awareness Month I’d like to highlight the red flags I observed in my own relationships. I’ve previously written about domestic violence; what it is, the myths, the statistics, and what you can do about it.

This time, I want to highlight the red flags so that you recognise what to look out for. Knowing the signs might help you take the necessary action to keep you and your children safe. Understanding that it is domestic violence, and that it won’t stop on its own might help you get to safety — before it kills you.

Looking out for others

If you know someone else who’s experiencing domestic violence, share this post and other online information with them. You might just save their life. At the very least, you’ll be showing them that you care and that you’re there to support them in whatever way you can.

NO More‘s great slogan for 2020: Together, we can help our friends, neighbours, and communities by #Listeningfromhome.

They continue “………….. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, the abuse will not simply end. It remains a critical time for survivors, and greater awareness, education, and bystander intervention are desperately needed. We need to help those who are experiencing violence during this unprecedented time.”

Red flags to watch out for

While domestic violence is perpetrated by both male and females, for brevity and ease, I’ll use he/him throughout. These are some red flags to look out for — an abuser might exhibit some of these signs at any point in your relationship (or someone else’s):

  • Discouraging you from spending time away from him, say with your family or friends. This is a form of control, possibly designed to stop you from telling or showing (bruises) others what’s been happening.
  • Being jealous of your friends or time you spend away from him. You’re his possession now, you belong to him. If you loved him you wouldn’t want to spend time away from him. “Huh, right. And he just wants to be your friend? No way. He just wants to get into your knickers.” So you seriously aren’t allowed male best friends?

“I hope everybody understands why someone is jealous of something. It is because jealous people feel threatened that someone might take away what belongs to them.”

Looking slutty? Showing too much cleavage? Photo by Pexels
  • Telling you what to wear or not. You can’t wear short skirts or makeup because it makes you look slutty or you’re putting yourself out there. He might tell you you’re showing too much cleavage or you shouldn’t be wearing tight t-shirts. He’ll make you feel uncomfortable in chosen outfits such as pointing out (what he knows you see as) your worst bits. “Hahaha, nice muffin top, have you looked in the mirror?”
  • Making you feel guilty for any problems in your relationship. I mean it’s your fault that he gets angry all the time, right? You shouldn’t have made him angry, or you shouldn’t have laughed at him in front of your family. You deliberately make him jealous by flirting with anything in trousers.
  • Being charming and witty one minute and intimidating or threatening the next. He’s always sweet and playful in front of everyone, but the minute you’re on your own, he turns nasty and spiteful towards you. He’ll be nice to your friends but afterwards he’ll bitch about them to you and put them down, trying to get you to feel the same way.
  • Threatening violence against you, or someone you love, to ensure you comply with his wants, wishes and needs; so do as you’re told. If you threaten to leave him, he might tell you he’ll scar you so no one else wants you, or that he’ll take the children from you. He’ll say he’s going to kill you ‘cos if he can’t have you, no one else will.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

Maya Angelou
  • Belittling you such as telling you you’re a terrible wife, you don’t keep the house clean, and your too lazy and lardy-arsed to cook a proper dinner. Oh, and you’re a crap mother too. He might even tell you how ugly and fat you are, and how much better looking and slim that fit bird down the road is. And she’s had three kids!
  • Embarrassing or shaming you, making snide remarks when in the company of others. This can be quite subtle or just plain out there. If someone compliments your outfit he’ll tell them how you struggled to get your fat arse into it or about the big pants you’re wearing. He’ll throw things back in your face, like any sensitive secrets you’ve told him about your past. It could be after telling him your mum had been mentally unwell some years back. He’ll delight in throwing “you’re a nutter, just like your mother” back at you.
Forced into unwanted sexual acts - threesome with two men
Forced into unwanted sexual acts — Photo by pexels
  • Pressuring you to have sex, even if you don’t want to. This can be just tutting or sighing when you say you’re tired. He might become verbally abusive like “what, again, ffs!” or “you’re effin’ frigid you are.” and “if you’re not giving it to me, you must be giving it to someone else.” so you give in. Otherwise he’ll make your life (more) miserable. Or he might become physical like grabbing or pawing at your intimate areas and making lewd comments. Worse still, he might force you into sexual acts that you’re not willing to engage in.
  • Intimidating you physically, possibly with weapons. Pulling your hair, grabbing you or raising his fists to you should be warning enough Then there’s punching and kicking walls, doors or windows. Throwing things around or at you, particularly food or hot liquids is a definite no-no. I had an Indian take away thrown at me, it missed and hit the wall, making an almighty mess. But that was my fault cos I shouldn’t have moved (out of the way)? He might point a knife or other sharp object in your direction or even at your face or neck. It’s possible he might strangle you.

“It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”

Aisha Mirza
  • Taking charge of you money, controlling banks accounts so you have little or no access. He earns the money, pays the bills, puts food on the table, and clothes on your back! Another form of control, letting you know who’s the boss and keeping you right where you are. You’ve got no money to go anywhere and you can’t leave him, can you?
  • Stopping you from working; perhaps he doesn’t want you to have access to your own money. He might be scared that you’re financially independent and that you can afford to leave him. Or if you do work, being jealous of your colleagues and watching what time you get home, asking where you’ve been, and who with.
  • Intentionally damaging your property; jewellery, clothes or your car i.e. letting your tyres down just as you’re about to go out with friends. Perhaps he’ll cut or rip up your clothes, “you want to wear low cut tops? Wear that,” after he took the scissors to the vests I wore under my suits for work.

Do you always feel like you’re walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting your partner? Do you think it’s you who always gets things wrong, it’s all your fault? “If I didn’t do this, he wouldn’t get angry” or “if I didn’t smile at the party last night, he wouldn’t have been so jealous”?

“If you’re on the receiving end of any of the above, perhaps it’s time for you to get professional help, or get out?”


Over to you


What’s your thoughts on domestic violence and red flags? Can you think of any more? Would you intervene if you witnessed domestic violence? What would you do if a friend was experiencing domestic violence. Would you feel equipped to support them? I’d love to know what you think and I’m happy to answer any questions.


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

29 thoughts on “Beware – domestic violence red flags”

    1. Thank you for your comments Darnell. It’s not easy to walk away from, especially when you have children. It took me long enough and I could only do it when I was ready 🙂

  1. What an excellent way to make people aware of the potential signs and red flags, Caz. I think a lot of these can be start small, being insidious and not always easy to spot, especially when you’re in the middle of it all. As an observer they might be more obvious, which is why being aware of them can be so helpful. It’s posts like this that can make all of the difference to someone experiencing domestic violence that may not even know it. xx

  2. It’s so important to know these red flags! Thanks for getting the word out. I thankfully don’t know anyone currently in an abusive relationship, but if I spot these signs, I’ll be sure to show them the list.

  3. I grew up in an abusive household watching my dad do almost all of these things to my mom. It was only with Jehovah God’s help that she’s been able to endure. I will always try to help others dealing with this until God rids this world of the people that abuse others (Psalms 36:10,11).

  4. What an insightful post that resonated with myself as I’ve recently wrote about my own experiences as a domestic abuse survivor. Thank you for your contribution to this topic.

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