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When I first saw the video of then Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice knocking unconscious his then fiancé Janay Palmer to the ground, dragging her motionless body across the floor, I was horribly mortified. I too had been a victim of domestic violence and watching the clip rehashed old feelings of my own experience. As I watched Janay come to, burrowing her hands in her face as she sat in shock on the ground, I recalled the countless times I laid sobbing on my bathroom floor, the nights I would lock myself in my closet, crying myself to sleep.

Janay and I are members of a club neither of us wanted to join. Together, we are part of the 1 in 4 women who will be victim to domestic violence during their lifetime. While I managed to remove myself from the situation I was in after two years, Janay wed her assailant late March of this year, the day after he was indicted for aggravated assault charges against her.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Tramaanddissociation via Creative Commons

In the Dec 1 exclusive two-part interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show, Janay repeatedly made clear that she is not a victim of domestic violence. What Janay fails to realize, is that it only takes one offense to become a victim of a domestic crime. One assault is one assault enough to walk away. While she maintains that this is a one time offense that will never occur again, studies show otherwise-80% of  offenses are likely of being repeated. Sometimes the signs aren’t so black and white, so how do you know if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? Here are 7 early warning signs you shouldn’t ignore.


How to know you’re in an unhealthy relationship-Know the signs

1. Physically Threats:

This is the most telling sign you’re in an unhealthy relationship. Take cues-does your mate blow up easily/have a short temper? When you argue, does he wave his finger in your face, or get too close into your personal space during the heat of the moment? If your partner exhibits any of these signs-get out now. Last year alone, 4,774,000 women in the U.S reported experiencing a physically violent crime by an intimate partner.

2: Verbal abuse shouldn’t be taken lightly

Often times, during my relationship, I experienced verbal abuse multiple times a day-rarely did it escalate to anything beyond that. Because of that, I brushed it off, denying that I was in an abusive relationship. But as many women who have been in abusive relationships will tell you, sometimes, it’s the emotional scars that take the largest toll. Someone who is constantly yelling, putting you down or name calling is instant red flag for dismissal. Sure, we all have moments where we say things in the heat of the moment, but when it becomes a regular enough occurrence that you anticipate it sometime during the day is when you know enough is enough.

3.Social Isolation

During my two year relationship, friends and family would constantly complain that I was never around. A senior at a university, I dropped out of school, spending all my time touting on my guy. I wanted to do anything to make him happy, invest all my time solely in him, sending me into a social nosedive. Those outside of the relationship are good barometer of whether or not your partner deserves the axe. Remember that Eve song Love is Blind? We can become emotionally blinded by what’s occurring right in front of us. Don’t forget about those around you for the sake of salvaging a relationship– this is when you need them the most.

4. Constantly blaming others

This is the person that will blame everything that’s wrong in their life on anything outside of themselves, dodging the blame bullet. It’s only a matter of time before you become the next causality in the blaming game. You talk about past relationships, and your partner has a very nasty tone with describing previous partners. Words such as bitch or slut casually flow out of their mouth, while trying to convince you the way they are is because of them. Because they feel like the victim themselves, they will never own up for any wrongdoing, placing all blame for their actions onto you.

5. Lack of communication

Communication is off because you constantly feel as if you’re walking on eggshells with this person. You avoid speaking your mind for fear of it escalating out of control. If you have difficulty expressing yourself with someone, you shouldn’t be with them. Period.

6. Control issues

Feeling like you always have to check in before going out, seeking approval from your mate? Are your personal finances being controlled by someone else? Do you have to walk to another room just to sneak in a conversation with a pal? In the beginning, you may feel as if your partner is overly protective and wants to see no harm come your way. The reality is, this person views you as their possession, wanting to dictate every aspect of your life

7. Jealousy

When I first entered my abusive relationship, my partner would often ask me of my whereabouts when I was away, who I was with, or what I was doing. At first, I equated jealousy with love, that someone actually cared enough about me that they feared losing me to someone else. Again-control. When someone is constantly checking your phone, accusing you of infidelity or unexpectedly popping up where you’re at is not healthy or loving.  Promoting this type of behavior will quickly lead to socially isolating yourself from things and people you love.



Wear Your Voice stands committed against domestic violence. If you, or someone you know needs help. Seek it immediately.

24-Hour Hotlines:
National Domestic Violence Hotline -800.799.SAFE
A Safe Place–   510.536.7233
W.o.m.a.n. Inc.-415-864-4722 *
Women’s Inc.
Tri-Valley Haven for Women
Asian Women’s Shelter
International Institute of the East Bay510.451.2846
CUAV (Community United Against Violence)-415/333-HELP*
National Partnership on Sexual Orientation for the National Immigrant Justice Center415.398.2759*

*Specializes in domestic violence acts within the LGBT community.

Shelter Information:
A Safe Place -510.536.7723
Asian Women’s Shelter
– 800.273.8255
Tri-Valley Haven for Women
Legal Services:
D. A. Office – Domestic Violence Advocate510.272.6180
Family Violence Law Center800.947.8301
API Legal Outreach-Oakland – 510.251.2846
International Institute of the East Bay



Originally from the Bay, I was uprooted from my eclectic surroundings and forced to spend my formative years in conservative San Joaquin County (Stockton) after Loma Prieta. Earthquake central couldn't deter me, and in 2010, I relocated to San Francisco. After a year of not being rich or knowing how to code, I moved to Oakland, where my momma and my momma's momma were born. Oakland has changed A LOT from when I was growing up, and I love getting reacquainted with my roots. Like our city's logo, Oakland grounds me, it's where I've rediscovered myself and unleashed my creativity. If I were a tattoo, I'd be eyes on my eyelids so I can snooze the day without anyone noticing (which I do often.) If I were a street in Oakland, I'd be Skyline Blvd, because, the view. Favorite spot in Oakland? I love it all! But I'd have to say Redwood Regional Park...or Raj Indian in Piedmont.

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