Page may be out of date
This page has not been updated in the last 5 years. The content on this page may be incorrect. If you have any questions please contact the web team.

Warning Signs

Red Flags in Dating Relationships

The four factors that are most important in detecting pre-rape behavior and/or abuse among dates and acquaintances are:

Sexual Entitlement

  • Touching another person with no regard for their wishes
  • Sexualizing relationships that are appropriately non-sexual
  • Using conversation that is inappropriately intimate
  • Telling sexual jokes at inappropriate times or places
  • Making inappropriate comments about people’s bodies, sexuality, etc.

Powers and Control

  • Interrupting people, especially women
  • Being a “bad loser”
  • Exhibiting inappropriate competitiveness
  • Using intimidating body language
  • Game playing

Hostility and Anger

  • Showing a quick temper
  • Blaming others when things go wrong
  • Tending to transform other emotions into anger

Acceptance of Interpersonal Violence

  • Using threats in displays of anger
  • Using violence in borderline situations
  • Approving observed violence
  • Justifying violence

(Information taking from Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime, 1991, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.)

Abusive Personality Characteristics

The following is a list of signs common to abusive and battering personalities. Though this list may not predict with absolute certainty, it is a good place to start.


  • Is suspicious about everybody with whom you speak
  • Wants to be with you constantly
  • Tries to turn you against your parents

Controlling behaviors

  • Tries to decide what you do and with whom you spend time
  • Gives orders and expects you to follow them
  • Hides controlling behavior behind pretending to be concerned about your safety

Quick Involvement

  • Pressures you to go steady right away
  • Claims love at first sight

Unfair Expectations

  • Expects you to put up with quickly changing moods
  • Expects you to be available all of the time
  • Expects you to forgive and forget immediately


  • Discourages you from spending time with your friends
  • Puts down everyone you know including your family and friends

Blames Others for Problems and Feelings

  • If there are problems at school or at work it is always someone else’s fault
  • Blames you for everything that goes wrong in the relationship

Overly Sensitive

  • Is easily insulted
  • Sees everything as personal attacks
  • Blows things out of proportion

Force Used in Sex

  • Asks you to do things you do not want to do
  • Uses sulking or anger to manipulate you into “giving in.”

Verbal Abuse

  • Puts you down in front of other friends
  • Makes you feel stupid

Rigid Sex Roles

  • Believes males and females must act certain ways and do certain things

History of Battering

  • Was violent/abusive to partners in previous relationships

Threats of Violence

  • Breaks or strikes objects near you in order to frighten you

Force Used During an Argument

  • Yells and curses during an argument in order to scare you into agreeing.


If, after going through this list, you hear yourself saying, “That’s exactly what my partner does” then you have reason to be concerned

(Information taken from “Trust Betrayed”, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources,