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Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse

By Madeliene Cahill

From: “Protecting our Women and Girls”

October 15, 2023, Sunday Service

Here’s what I want you to know:

  1. Irrational jealousy

  2. Violent temper

  3. A need to control and isolate you.

Does your partner exhibit these characteristics? They are the warning signs of a violent relationship. These signs are as clear as warning signs of skin cancer or diabetes; we need to post them in doctor’s offices, schools, grocery stores, churches.

Do you find yourself looking at the ground when you are walking with your partner because you’re afraid that they will accuse you of making flirtatious eye contact with a random stranger. Do you ignore the server at a restaurant because your partner is watching you, ready to rage about any sign of friendliness you display? Are your friends used to text messages you’re your partner, checking to see if you are really with them?

Does your partner punch the wall near your head, break items that are precious to you, threaten the children, kick the pets, drive dangerously in order to frighten you? Does your partner have a gun?

Does your partner monitor the odometer on your car, monitor your phone records and credit card bills? Does your partner destroy or damage your work: schoolbooks are torn, work files disappear, artwork has paint spilled on it? Do you find your social circle shrinking because your partner says, “That friend of yours doesn’t like me; don’t spend time with them” or “You’re different after spending time with your sister; I think she’s bad-mouthing me.”

Violent relationships typically start with verbal abuse…and then profound remorse and feigned bafflement: “I’ve never done that before; I don’t know what got into me. I’ll never do it again.” But then it escalates. The first pregnancy often coincides with the first punch. Why is this? Is the abuser jealous? Or do they feel more secure knowing that their partner is now permanently tied to them and will find it harder to leave? The most dangerous time in a violent relationship is when a woman tries to leave. That is when most murders of women occur.

When I began work in what was then called the Battered Women’s Shelter movement, I was surprised to find that the most common question I was asked by friends and family was “Why do women stay?” Not “Why do men hurt the women they say they love?” I began to find the answer in the cases I worked with. They stayed because their husband threatened kill them, their children, or himself if they left.

Domestic violence is the most common form of violence in the U.S.

A woman is more likely to be murdered by her husband or boyfriend than by a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member, a friend.

A woman is most likely to be murdered when she tries to leave.

If you are in a situation like this, call the Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence hotline: (888) 774-2900, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 800-799-7233, or visit

If your friend is in a situation like this, set aside a dresser for her in your home. Have her leave clothes, medications, copies of important papers for herself and her children there. If you think that your home is the first place her abuser would look for her, figure out another place for her to go—the closest police station or a friend of yours whom the abuser doesn’t know, for instance. Create an escape plan with her. What is the quickest route to her local police station? Who could she stay with who lives within her children’s school district, so that they don’t have to transfer schools?

If you recognize your own behaviors in the list of warning signs of abuse, you can get help. Call the Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence, (888) 774-2900, the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 800-799-7233, or visit for names of therapists who can help you change your behavior.

A reminder:

  1. Irrational jealousy

  2. Violent temper

  3. A need to control and isolate you

If these behaviors sound familiar, please get help. No one should have to live in fear of the people they love.

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