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Domestic violence is on the public's mind following Ray Rice's firing from the Baltimore Ravens and dismissal from the NFL for punching his then-fiancée, Janay. Here are key traits to watch out for when it comes to abusive relationships.

Ellen Seidman
September 10, 2014

Following the firing of Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens and his suspension from the NFL for punching then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Rice, the topic of domestic violence is once again on the public's mind.

Sadly, it's nothing new. More than 31% of women in the United States have been abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, reveals the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (And keep in mind that it's not just men committing physical and emotional violence—women can be abusers, too.)

After the Ray Rice video was released, people flooded Twitter to share their own experiences using the twin hashtags, #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, which went viral. They tell a painful and all-too-common story of how difficult and frightening it is for victims of abuse to leave a troubled relationship.

Gail Saltz, MD, Health's Contributing Psychology Editor, shares the warning signs that a partner could become abusive.

They're jealous and possessive.

"Many women mistakenly feel flattered and loved if a guy is concerned about any attention from another man. Jealousy does not equal love—and it may be a red flag, especially if it is expressed in an angry, critical way."

They're controlling.

"Beware of a man who acts like you belong to him, telling you what to wear and do."

They isolate you.

"Is a partner moving you away from friends and family? This is often a prelude to abuse."

They're increasingly critical.

"The criticism may be over major or minor matters: Your hair is too short, your behavior isn't right."

They have a short fuse.

"Abusive types tend to be impulsive, blow up quickly, have trouble talking frustrations through and regularly loses it in little ways."

They blame others.

"Somehow, nothing is ever his fault. Somehow, it's always someone else who's done him wrong."

When they drink, they get mean.

"This is a very bad sign."

If you need more insights or help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline, open 24/7, at 800-799-7233.

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