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Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

We don’t have to witness violence directly to be concerned that abuse might be happening. There are other warning signs that often accompany abuse. What do these warning signs look like?

Think of these warning signs as “the tip of the iceberg”. They are patterns of behaviour that might indicate that abuse may be below the surface. Not all warning signs need to be present to cause concern – we may only observe one or two. After reviewing this list, be sure to take a look at the signs of high risk.

Warning signs we may see in an abuser’s actions and attitudes:

  • He puts her down: The abuser uses degrading or disrespectful language when talking about or to her
  • He puts on a show: The abuser lies or exaggerates his own good qualities
  • He isolates her: The abuser limits her leaving the house for social interactions. He may try to keep her away from you
  • He does all the talking: He dominates the conversation
  • He acts superior: He may act like he has more value and worth than others in his family or home
  • He acts as if he owns her: This can show through his words, body language, and expectations
  • He monitors her: He monitors her conversations and interactions with friends and family in person, over the phone, and online. He may use extended family and community members to help him watch and monitor her
  • He acts depressed: He may suggest that he is the victim and attempt to make people feel sorry for him

Warning signs we may see in the behaviour of a woman who is being abused:

  • She is nervous: she seems visibly anxious or uncomfortable, especially when the abuser is around
  • She calls in sick a lot: she seems to be sick more often and misses school, work or community functions
  • She is apologetic: she says she is sorry for the abuser’s behaviour and makes excuses for him
  • She gets angry: She may become aggressive and angry to defend the abuser
  • She avoids you: She cancels plans at the last minute and avoids you when she runs into you on the street
  • She drinks or uses drugs more: She may be increasing the amount she drinks or uses to cope
  • She seems sad: She seems withdrawn, lonely, and upset
  • She has bruises: She may have injuries or bruises that are visible
  • She is isolated: She does not have access to meet loved ones and friends in person, talk over the phone or using the internet
  • She is dependent on the abuser: She does not have access to financial resources or legal documents that are important to her