Warning Signs

Warning Signs of intimate partner abuse

If you recognize some of these warning signs, it may be time to take action.

Warning signs someone is acting abusively:

  • They put their partner down often
  • They do all the talking for their partner and dominate the conversation.
  • They check up on their partner all the time, even at work
  • They claim that they themselves are the victim, despite treating their partner disrespectfully
  • They isolate their partner from other people and try to keep their partner away from friends and family
  • They act like their partner is their property
  • They lie to make themselves look good or exaggerate their good qualities
  • They act like they are superior and of more value than others in the home

Warning signs that someone is experiencing abuse:

  • They are apologetic and makes excuses for their partner’s behaviour or they become defensive when others bring up their partner’s behaviour
  • They are nervous talking when their partner is around
  • They seem to be sick more often and miss work
  • They try to cover up bruises or physical injuries
  • They make excuses at the last minute about why they can’t meet you or other friends or family members
  • They seem sad, lonely, withdrawn and afraid

Signs of high risk

Again, experts have identified conditions and situations that indicate a situation is becoming more dangerous. If someone you know is experiencing abuse and you recognize some of these signs of high risk, we encourage you to reach out for support.

The danger may be greater if:

  • Their partner has access to their children
  • Their partner has access to weapons
  • Their partner has a history of abuse with them or others
  • Their partner has threatened to harm or kill them if they leave and says things like “If I can’t have you, no one will”
  • Their partner threatens to harm their children or their pets or destroy their property
  • Their partner has threatened to kill themself
  • Their partner has choked them
  • Their partner has hit them in the head or done something else that could have led to serious injury or death
  • Their partner is going through major life changes (e.g. job, separation, depression)
  • Their partner is convinced that they are seeing someone else
  • Their partner watches the victim/survivor’s actions, listens to their telephone conversations, reads their emails, or follows them
  • Their partner has trouble keeping a job
  • Their partner takes drugs or drinks every day
  • Their partner has no respect for the law


Some signs of high risk relate to a victim/survivor's vulnerability. The risk for a survivor to be seriously harmed or even killed is greater if:

  • They have just separated or are planning to leave
  • They fear for their life and for their children’s safety
  • They cannot see their risk
  • They are in a custody battle, or they have children from a previous relationship
  • They are involved in another relationship
  • They have no access to a phone
  • They face other obstacles (e.g. do not speak English, are not yet a legal resident of Canada, live in a remote area)
  • They have no friends or family


Research indicates that women who are under 25 years of age, women with a disability, Indigenous women, women living common-law and trans people are at higher risk of domestic violence.


He puts her down

She may be apologetic and makes excuses for his behaviour or becomes aggressive and angry

He does all the talking and dominates the conversation

She is nervous about talking when he's there

He tries to suggest he is the victim and acts depressed

She seems to be sick more often and misses work

He tries to keep her away from you

She tries to cover her bruises

He acts as if he owns her

She makes excuses at the last minute about why she can't meet you or she tries to avoid you on the street.

He lies to make himself look good or exaggerates his good qualities

She seems sad, lonely, withdrawn and is afraid

He acts like he is superior and of more value than others in his home

She uses more drugs or alcohol to cope