A new relationship can bring intense feelings of romance, excitement, and hope for the future. Signs that your partner is potentially abusive can be undetectable in these early stages. Abuse may appear weeks or months later.  Understanding boundaries is important in having a healthy relationship. It is also important to ask yourself if the attention you are receiving from your partner is overwhelming or making you uncomfortable.  

Abuse may be physical or non-physical, and it is not always obvious. Abuse is typically repetitive and follows a pattern of calm periods which lead up to tense periods. The abuser will often blame their partner for the abuse (“look what you made me do”) and not take responsibility for themselves.  

Yellow Flags in a Relationship

Early signs of abuse may be based on attempts to control the other person. Some “Yellow Flags” that a relationship is turning abusive include: 

  • Always checking in on you (by text, calling, or asking your friends/family/workplace where you are) 
  • Not supporting or encouraging you  
  • Putting you down (in private or in front of others) 
  • Pressuring you to do things that make you uncomfortable. 
  • Becoming angry too quickly or unreasonably. 
  • Love Bombing – overwhelming you with affection and talk of the future very early in the relationship 

Red Flags in a Relationship

Abuse may escalate to a “Red Flag,” which is any behavior that attempts to gain power and control in a relationship. Common red flags include: 

  • Intimidation (through looks or actions) 
  • Threatening to harm you or loved ones (including pets) 
  • Damaging/destroying your belongings, or home 
  • Accusing you of being unfaithful without any proof  
  • Using their financial power as a justification for their actions 
  • Showing extreme jealousy of your friends/family  

Even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present. 

What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

In a healthy relationship, your partner respects your emotions and does not tell you how to feel. Your partner will respect that you have your own life, privacy, goals, friendships, and feelings outside of your relationship with them. They are supportive and encourage you. Most importantly, both partners will feel that they are equal, can remain calm and rational during conflict, and both respect that your body is your own, and are both free to express what does and doesn’t make each other uncomfortable. If you and your partner are noticing these behaviors in each other, these are great signs the relationship is on the healthy spectrum. A healthy relationship isn’t always perfect, but abuse is never part of a healthy relationship.  

Remember: Relationships exist on a spectrum, rarely are they all “good” or “bad” and no one deserves to experience abuse of any kind—for any reason, and every type of abuse is serious!  

We are committed to providing free, safe and confidential services to victims of dating violence. If you are experiencing dating violence, please call our HELPLine 24/7 at 512-396-4357. HCWC’s Counseling & Resource Center has a counselor specifically focused on Dating Violence and our Prevention Educators are available to presentations and education about dating violence.


  • Veronica Herrera

    Veronica works behind the scenes at HCWC as an Admin. Asst. Veronica enjoys science fiction books and movies, music, and spending time with the pets.

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  • Gemma Medina

    Gemma is a Squishmallow enthusiast who loves listening to podcasts in her spare time. Gemma works as a prevention educator at HCWC where she helps provide resources, advocacy, and awareness on healthy relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault to adolescents and the community. Gemma is a proud alum of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley where she received her bachelor’s in Rehabilitation services. She is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities, equality, and social change.

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