It is uncommon for a person to become highly abusive in a relationship straight away, often they will first start trying to gain power over their partner in small, subtle ways. These early warning signs or ‘red flags’ are an indication that a relationship has become unhealthy and could escalate into family violence.

Some common early warning signs of abuse

  • Does your partner try to escalate your relationship quickly by moving in together or getting engaged after only being together for a short time?
  • Does your partner ever speak badly about your family or friends or discourage you from spending time with people you’re close to?
  • Does your partner nit-pick things you do, criticise you, or put you down so you feel bad about yourself?
  • Does your partner ever try to pick fights or gets really angry about small things?
  • Does your partner refuse to take responsibility for things, always blaming you or someone else?
  • Does your partner want to know where you are all the time?
  • Does your partner call or text excessively throughout the day and gets angry if you don’t respond?
  • Does your partner check your phone or social media to see who you’ve been talking to?
  • Does your partner get jealous of other people you see or accuse you of flirting with other people or cheating?
  • Is your partner overly moody, being mean to you one moment and caring and kind the next?
  • Does your partner break or throw objects?
  • Does you partner yell at you aggressively or get in your face?
  • Are you ever scared of your partner?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above elements of your relationship are unhealthy and may develop into a situation of family violence.

I answered yes. What should I do?

Stay safe

The most important thing for you to do is ensure the safety of yourself and your children (if you have any). If you ever feel in danger, try to remove yourself from the vicinity of the abusive person, perhaps by going to a friend, relative or neighbour’s house. Or if you are unable to safely leave, call the police on 000.

Be informed

You may find it helpful to learn a bit more about controlling behaviour and family violence. Another good place to find information is the types of abuse section.

Talk to someone

At Safe Steps there is always someone to listen and offer support and information. Whether you are experiencing early warning signs of abuse, or more progressed forms of family violence, a Safe Steps specialist support worker can help you understand what you are experiencing, explore options and offer assistance. Please call us anytime on 1800 015 188.

If you feel comfortable, you might also want to talk to a trusted friend or extended family member about what you are experiencing. Remember: if you are experiencing abuse, it is not your fault and it is nothing to be ashamed of or secretive about. You do not have to go through it alone.