Early signs of abuse in relationships

To see the power and control wheel for young people, click on the image to the right of this page.

Power and control

Is obsessive. Tells you who you can see, what clothes to wear, how to have your hair or makeup.  Often says, “If you love me you will …”.


Wants to know where you going, who you are with, when you will be home, and so on. Displays stalking behaviours such as following you, accusing you of being unfaithful, flirting, and so on.

Isolates you

Stops you or makes it difficult for you to see your family or friends. Sulks or is moody when your family or friends are around, and makes you feel uncomfortable until they are gone. 


Is abusive to you, or about your family, friends or pets. Indulges in name calling, and physical and emotional threats. Says things like, “I will leave you if …”, “I will hurt you if ….”. Nasty behaviour towards pets is a frequent early warning sign. 

Suicide threats

Says things like:
  • “I need you.”
  • “You’re the only one who understands me.”
  • “I don’t know what I would do without you.” 
  • “If you leave me I will hurt myself.”
  • “I need help; please help me.”

Changeable/volatile behaviour

Is erratic – nice one minute or day, and abusive and nasty the next. Blames you for his behaviour. “You make me react that way”, “if you did this, or didn’t do that I wouldn’t get so angry.” You feel like you are walking on egg shells and constantly “trying to make him happy.”


Is coercive, pressuring you to do things you don’t want to. Takes no responsibility for contraception, seeing it as “your problem”.

Physical abuse

Says he loves you but then physically abuses you, by hitting, punching, choking, or pushing. Often has a history of previous abuse.


Is haphazard and unreliable. Leaves you to do the contacting and keeps you dangling. You are left confused and don’t know what he wants.  Doesn’t appear to be telling you the truth about what he is doing and says “it’s none of your business”.  Makes you feel crazy, or jealous, or insecure when that is not how you usually feel.

Dating Wheel