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Abusive Relationship - 23 Warning Signs

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My boyfriend of three months has started to get jealous of my girlfriends and I going out to movies, and he has become critical about the clothes that I wear. He wants me to wear longer skirts, baggier jeans, and longer sleeves. My coworker thinks my boyfriend is afraid to lose me and she thinks it's cute that he cares so much. But, I'm feeling uncomfortable with him. Am I overreacting?



Dear Doubts,

Your feeling uncomfortable is a red flag that your relationship is not healthy. Estimates are that 1 out of 4 women will experience an abusive relationship and there are often many warning signs. Controlling your friendships and what you wear are two possible signs. If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, seek help by calling your local domestic violence hotline or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (

Health First at provides the list below of red flags or warning signs of an abusive relationship.


Physical or sexual violence may occur without warning. Sometimes, however, there may be signs or "red flags" that serve as warnings that abuse may occur. The following are examples of a person's behavior or personality that may be a warning that a person may be abusive. If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship or be at risk for it. It is recommended that you speak with a domestic violence advocate.

1. Does your partner tease you in a hurtful way in private or in public?

2. Does your partner call you names such as "stupid" or "bitch"?

3. Does your partner act jealous of your friends, family, or co-workers?

4. Does your partner get angry about clothes you wear or how you style your hair?

5. Does your partner check-up on you by calling, driving by, or getting someone else to?

6. Has your partner gone places with you or sent someone just to "keep an eye on you"?

7. Does your partner insist on knowing who you talk with on the phone?

8. Does your partner blame you for his problems or his bad mood?

9. Does your partner get angry so easily that you feel like you're "walking on eggshells"?

10. Does your partner hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things to scare you?

11. Does your partner often drink or use drugs?

12. Does your partner insist that you drink or use drugs with him?

13. Have you lost friends or no longer see some of your family because of your partner?

14. Does your partner accuse you of being interested in someone else?

15. Does your partner read your mail, go through your purse, or other personal papers?

16. Does your partner keep money from you, keep you in debt, or have "money secrets?"

17. Has your partner kept you from getting a job, or caused you to lose a job?

18. Has your partner sold your car, made you give up your license, or not repaired your car?

19. Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your children, family, friends, or pets?

20. Does your partner force you to have sex when you do not want to?

21. Does your partner force you to have sex in ways that you do not want to?

22. Does your partner threaten to kill you or himself if you leave?

23. Is your partner like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," acting one way in front of other people and another way when you are alone?

For more information, see

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you may be at risk for domestic violence. Seek assistance from National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (