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Is your relationship headed for trouble? Recognizing yellow and red flags

Sunday, February 13, 2022

The following article is part two of a four-week series focusing on raising awareness about dating violence. February is Dating Violence Awareness month, and we hope to educate our community on this very important issue. One-in-three young people will experience dating violence in their lifetime. Locally, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has been serving victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and child abuse since 1978. Last year, HCWC served 2,055 victims of abuse (face-to-face) primarily from Hays and Caldwell Counties.

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.

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

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.

In a healthy relationship, your partner respects your emotions, and does not tell you how to feel. Your partner will respect that you to 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. Learn more at

This article was written in collaboration with Gemma Medina, HCWC Prevention Educator

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666