October Is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Know The Red Flags Of An Abuser


It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. Many abusers may seem perfect on the surface–as if they are the dream partner. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear in the early stages of a relationship, but rather emerge gradually as the relationship grows.

The best way to protect yourself from getting into an abusive relationship is by knowing what to look for. If you recognize any of these RED FLAGS, you may be heading down a dangerous road into an abusive situation and you may want to reach out to a therapist or a local domestic violence advocate.


  • Wants to be with you constantly
  • Accuses you of cheating
  • Follows you around or frequently calls during the day
  • Odd behaviors like checking your car mileage or asking friends to check in on you

Controlling Behavior

  • Overly concerned for your safety or your use of time
  • Acts like you cannot make good decisions
  • Becomes extremely angry when you are late
  • Controls where you go and what you do
  • Makes you ask permission to do certain things
  • Controls what you wear

Quick Involvement

  • 6 months or less before living together/engaged
  • Claims of love at first sight
  • Says you are the only one who can make her/him feel this way
  • Pressure for commitment

Unrealistic Expectations

  • Compliments you in a way that makes you seem superhuman
  • Expects you to be perfect
  • Says things like, “I am all you need,” and “You are all I need.”


  • Tries to cut off all your resources
  • Puts down everyone you know
  • Friends are either stupid, slutty, or you are cheating with them
  • Family is too controlling, don’t love you, or you are too dependent on them
  • Refuse to let you use car or talk on the phone
  • Makes it difficult for you to go to school or work

Blames Others for Problems

  • They blame others for their problems at school or work; it is always someone else’s fault
  • You’re at fault for everything that goes wrong in the relationship
  • Never takes responsibility

Makes you responsible for how they feel:

  • “You made me mad.”
  • “You’re hurting me by not doing what I ask.”
  • “You make me do crazy things.”

Disrespectful or Cruel to Others

  • Animal abuse
  • Insensitive to pain and suffering
  • High expectations of children beyond their abilities
  • Teases children or a younger sibling until they cry
  • Doesn’t treat other people with respect
  • Verbal abuse/name-calling

Playful Use of Force During Sex

  • Little concern over whether you want to have sex or not
  • Uses sulking or anger to manipulate you into compliance
  • Makes sexual or degrading jokes about you

Rigid Sex Roles

  • Believes women are inferior to men
  • Unable to be a whole person without a relationship

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

  • Sudden mood changes, like two different personalities
  • One minute nice, the next minute exploding
  • One minute happy, the next minute sad

Past Battering

  • You may hear the person was abusive to someone else they were in a relationship with
  • The person may deny it, claiming their ex is crazy or it wasn’t that bad

Breaking or Striking Objects

  • Breaks cherished or important possessions
  • Throws objects at, around, or near you
  • Punches walls

Any Force During an Argument

  • Physically restrains you from leaving the room
  • Pushes or shoves you/physical abuse


  • Easily insulted
  • Sees everything as personal attacks
  • Has a tantrum about the injustice of things that happen to them
  • Goes off about small irritations
  • Looks for fights
  • Blows things out of proportion

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship, because every relationship is different, but one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner uses many different forms of abuse to gain power and control over their partners. Abuse is not okay. If you need someone to talk with there are resources available to you:

Los Alamos Victim Assistant 505-663-3511                             

Crisis Center of Northern NM 505-753-1656                          

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233           

NM Crisis Line 1-855-227-5485   

Solace Crisis Treatment Center 1-800-721-7273