Warning Signs of an Abuser

Pushes for quick involvement

  • Comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone”
  • Constantly offering to take care of you


  • Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly
  • Prevents you from going out or going to work because you “might meet someone”
  • Checks the mileage on your car

Lack of trust

  • Controlling
  • Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about who you talked to and where you were
  • Keeps all the money
  • Insists you ask permission to go anywhere or do anything
  • Makes plans without consulting you
  • Manipulation rather than discussion and compromise

Unrealistic Expectations

  • Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his/her every need
  • Puts you on a pedestal and then blames you when you don’t meet expectations


  • Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble”
  • May deprive you use of phone or car, or try to prevent you from holding a job

Blames Others for Problems or Mistakes

  • It’s always someone else’s fault if something goes wrong
  • Twists stories around or lies

Makes Others Responsible for His or Her Feelings

  • Abuser says “You make me angry” instead of “I am angry” or says “You are hurting me by not doing what I tell you”


  • Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he/she is really mad
  • Rants about the injustices of things that are just part of life

Cruelty to Children and Animals

  • May expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (i.e. gets angry at a 3 yr. old for wetting their diaper), or may tease them until they cry
  • Kills or punishes animals brutally

“Playful” Use of Force During Sex:

  • Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex

Verbal Abuse

  • Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names

Rigid Sex/ Gender Roles

  • Expects you to serve, obey, remain at home
  • Expects you to take care of household, children on your own

Sudden Mood Swings

  • Switches from sweet to violent in minutes or less

Past Abusive Behaviour

  • Admits to hitting or otherwise abusing a partner in the past, but says the person “made” him/her do it

Threats of Violence

  • Threatens to harm you, then dismisses it later

Take care if you find yourself believing that with a bit of work you could really fix/change this person, rescue them and/or help them to reach their potential.

Compiled by Interval House, Hamilton, Ontario