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.

Let’s talk about Domestic Violence, again

Why we should talk about domestic violence

Domestic violence hurts – Image by

You might wonder why “Let’s talk about Domestic Violence.” I never imagined having my hair ripped out at the roots, so hard, I had to restyle my hair to cover huge gaps the size of a 10 pence? Or being punched in the stomach, so hard it took the breath right out of me and made me physically sick? The times I just curled up in a ball and wished it would stop; wished he would stop? That’s why – Let’s talk about domestic violence.

If just one person reads my message and plucks up the courage to leave a violent relationship, it might just save a life.

“As one person I cannot change the world but maybe I can change the world of one person.”

Paul Shane Spear.

Domestic violence statistics

According to the UK Office of National Statistics 2020, in the year ending March 2019, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic violence in the last year (1.6 million women and 786,000 men).

More than one-third of women (me included – and you can read my story starting here if you want) and one in 12 men have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime — anyone would agree that’s far too many.

I really didn’t want to mention the damn virus, but news from around the world is that Domestic Violence cases are soaring as lockdown takes its toll. Here in the UK, more than 25 organisations helping domestic violence victims have reported a surge in calls during lockdown and an increase in their caseload since the start of the UK’s coronavirus epidemic. Mark Townsend, The Guardian, 2020. S0, yes, let’s talk about domestic violence.

Myths about domestic violence

Black and white photo of lady with long dark hair. On her bare back the words written in green "Is this Love?" and written in black "Love shouldn't  hurt"
Let’s talk about domestic violence — what is it?

She’d leave if it was really bad — there are lots of reasons someone might stay. Leaving really isn’t easy, it’s a process and it takes time. It took me almost three years and then — I was ready to leave.

Domestic abuse only happens to certain women/men — You might have thought so, but it happens to all women, regardless of their education status, their profession, or where they live — I never thought it would happen to me!

Some women deserve it — oh, my word, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard this. Men often claim their wife/partner ‘made them do it’. No — the abuser alone is responsible, not the victim.

Some women like violent men — I doubt that very much, as I know I constantly lived in fear and this is just blaming the victim — again.

Stress, alcohol and drugs make the men violent — No. They’re violent when sober too and lots of men get stressed and drink without becoming threatening or violent. My ex would say he couldn’t remember the beatings, he’d blacked out because of the drugs. That was just an excuse.

Domestic abuse is between the two people concerned, it’s private — Wrong! DV is a crime, it’s a social problem not an individual one, and we all need to shout out against it.

OK, so what is domestic violence?

It’s any behaviour that is violent, threatening, controlling or intended to make you or your family feel unsafe and scared.

Domestic violence (DV) refers to violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are are currently or have previously been in an intimate relationship.

The perpetrator (more often a male) uses violence to dominate and control the other person. This causes dread, fear, physical harm and/or psychological harm.

DV is used for one thing only: and that’s to gain and maintain control over you. Abusers never “play fair.” An abuser uses shame, guilt, fear, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you right where they want you — under their thumb.

“You are so brave and quiet, I forget you are suffering.”

Ernest Hemingway

Domestic violence is also commonly known as:

  1. relationship violence
  2. physical assault
  3. intimate partner violence
  4. emotional abuse
  5. sexual assault
  6. verbal abuse
  7. financial abuse
  8. family violence
  9. technology-facilitated, online abuse
  10. social abuse – isolating someone from their family and friends
  11. spiritual abuse – stopping someone from practicing their religion
  12. child abuse

I’m sure that various organisations around the world could add to this list. But for brevity today, let’s concentrate on the DV between two people in an intimate relationship.

What you can do about Domestic Violence

Let’s talk about Domestic Violence
— what you can do about it

If you’re asking yourself what you can do to help, see the seven steps (listed below) you can take to help stop domestic violence in your own home, at a friend’s or a loved one’s and in your community:

  • Knowing the signs. DV knows no boundaries and can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, or background, educated, uneducated. DV can start pretty early on in a relationship and sometimes it might take months, years or even long after you’ve separated.

There are some warning signs to be wary of – an abuser might exhibit some of these at any point in your relationship or someone else’s:

  • Discouraging you from spending time away from your family or friends
  • Being jealous of your friends or time you spend away from him
  • Telling you what to wear or not
  • Making you feel guilty for any problems in your relationship
  • Being charming and witty one minute and intimidating or threatening the next
  • Threatening violence against you, or someone you love to ensure you comply; do as you’re told
  • Embarrassing or shaming you, making snide remarks when in company of others
  • Pressuring you to have sex, even if you don’t want to
  • Intimidating you physically, possibly with weapons
  • Taking charge of you money, controlling banks accounts so you have little or no access
  • Stopping you from working, or if you do work, being jealous of your colleagues and watching what time you get home
  • Intentionally damaging your property; jewellery, clothes or your car
  • Do you always feel like you’re walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting him/her?

How to help someone experiencing domestic violence

Picture of lady's ear with open hand up against it, showing she's listening
Let them talk about Domestic
Violence and just listen
  • Check-in with loved ones, friends, or neighbours. If you know someone is in danger, reach out regularly, either in person or by phone to ensure their safety.
  • Be a shoulder to cry on; a good listener. If someone ever tells you in confidence that they’re experiencing DV, just listen actively without interrupting and don’t pass judgment. Trust what they’re saying is true and ask if there’s anything you could do to help.
  • Be there. If someone you know is afraid of the violence escalating or is thinking about leaving, be ready to help. Keep your phone nearby with the sound on, make sure you’ve got petrol in your car and perhaps have a pre-planned escape and somewhere you can meet.
  • Have resources available. You might help them get a bag made up with necessities and have it ready to hand or keep it somewhere safe for them. You could help by doing some of the running around needed to arrange things like a mobile phone and sorting out any finances.
  • Write it down. Document every incident you either witness or know of, including the time, date, where it happened, and any injuries. This information might prove useful if at a later date you or someone you know wants to proceed to court.
  • Know numbers to your local shelters. You or someone you know might need immediate refuge. Keep numbers to a hotline in your phone — the UK freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
  • Shout out about Domestic Violence. Help a local DV service in raising awareness in your community. Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, at work meetings, and local community groups. Organise posters for your workplace rest areas.

Some good news

Only a few months ago, our Home Office Secretary, Priti Patel announced help for domestic abuse victims during lockdown. She’s launched a new campaign to help victims of domestic abuse after a national helpline reported a 120% increase in people seeking help during the lockdown. Patel said the data was ‘extremely concerning’ and she told victims ‘you are not alone’.

Over to you

So, if it’s happening to you, you’re not alone and help is available. Do you know someone who’s experiencing domestic violence? Would you know what to look for and be able to help some now? I’d appreciate your thoughts and I’m happy to answer any questions. Let’s talk about Domestic Violence.

This article is one of a series, looking at the various forms of abuse, which I hope you’ll find interesting and useful.

You might like this list of Useful list of Mental Health Contacts here.

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