Caution Tape

What To Look For

Intimate partner violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples. This can be physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former common-law partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. The signs that someone is being abused are often difficult to see as much of the abusive actions and behaviours are done out of the view of others.

Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate someone is being abused:

One partner facts:

  • Superior to the other

  • Often insults or puts the other down

  • Often accuses the other of flirting, lying, talking too loudly etc.

  • Seems fearful, nervous, unsure or passive when the other is present

  • Is always checking up, disapproving of the other’s friendships

  • Often apologizes or makes excuses for the other partner’s behaviours

  • Seems to take the blame for everything that goes wrong – e.g., getting lost on a drive, breaking something

  • Shows fear of conflict with others

  • Has frequent bruises and injuries

  • Has elaborate explanations for injuries

  • Seems to avoid work or school rather than explain how injuries occurred

  • Makes last-minute excuses for why s/he can’t meet you

  • Uses drugs or alcohol to cope

Signs of Immediate Danger

One partner facts:

  • Threatens self-harm or harm to his/her partner, children, pets or others

  • Forces his/her partner to have sexual intercourse

  • Has already hit or choked his/her partner

  • Has abused others in the past, including pets

  • Watches, follows, attempts to control his/her partner

  • Is depressed or experiencing major life changes – e.g., job change

  • Claims to fear for his/her life

  • Has just left the relationship or is planning to leave


  • One or both partners abuse drugs and/or alcohol

  • One or both partners have access to weapons

  • Ex-partners are engaged in a child custody battle

  • The couple is isolated either geographically or socially – e.g., live far from town, not in touch with family or friends, etc.

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