Controlling Behaviors Checklist

controlling behaviors checklist

I was introduced to this amazing checklist through a great facebook page…

Addressing DV in Christian Homes

So, for those of you who need a simple way to help you determine if you are living in an abusive relationship.


The following checklist has been adapted from the book When Love Goes Wrong by Susan Schechter and Ann Jones (1992). The list may help you to identify more fully what has happened to you and how it has affected you. This list of controlling behaviors is not an exhaustive list, so please add any that you have experienced that aren’t on the list. You will also find that some have nothing to do with your partner.

Control Through Criticism

My partner’s words or behavior indicate he thinks I never do anything right.

Nothing is ever good enough.

My partner says I’m not supportive and loving enough; he wants all of my attention.

My partner is critical of the way I cook, clean, dress, make love, carry myself in public, etc.

My partner never gives me positive support; even compliments are backhanded (“This is the first good dinner you’ve cooked”).

When I confide my insecurities, my partner makes fun of me.

My partner calls me names: dummy, whore, cunt, bitch.

My partner always corrects things I say or do; only he can do things right.

My partner humiliates me about something I’ve done in front of family and friends.

Control Through Moodiness, Anger, and Threats

My partner gets mad if I’m five minutes late and I’m afraid.

My partner expects me to read his mind and is furious when I can’t or won’t.

Living with my partner is nerve-wracking because I never know what will set him off.

My partner blows up and refuses to speak to me when I do something he considers “wrong”.

My partner withdraws into silence, and wants me to figure out what’s wrong and apologize for it.

My partner gets very depressed and expects me to work very hard to cheer him up.

My partner says he’ll never let me leave him.

Control Through Children

My partner threatens to or does call social services to say I’m neglecting or abusing the children when I am not.

My partner threatens to take the children and leave.

My partner threatens he will get custody of the children if I want to leave the relationship.

My partner threatens to harm the children.

My partner mistreats the children and blames it on my parenting problems.

My partner invalidates my parenting decisions by telling the children not to follow consequences or allowing other behavior in my absence.

My partner tells the children I’m a bad parent.

My partner abuses me in front of the children, physically or emotionally.

My partner fights with me while holding our children, behaving in a manner which makes me afraid to disagree.

Control Through Overprotection and “Caring”

My partner doesn’t like it if I’m away from home because he says he worries about me too much.

My partner is jealous when I talk to new people.

My partner often phones or unexpectedly comes by the place I work to see if I’m “okay”.

My partner does the shopping so I don’t have to go out.

My partner says I don’t have to work because he wants to take care of me.

My partner picks out my clothes because he loves to have me look just right.

My partner takes to me work and picks me up so the men I work with won’t get “ideas”.

My partner encourages me to take drugs with him so we can share the high; he accuses me of not caring if I refuse.

Control Through Denying Your Perceptions

My partner acts very cruelly and then says I’m too sensitive and can’t take a joke.

My partner promises to do things, breaks his promises, then says he never promised in the first place.

My partner causes big scenes in public and at family gatherings, and when I confront him about it, he accuses me of exaggerating or making the whole thing up.

My partner shows excessive interest in my emotional life and tries to convince me that I need to see a psychiatrist. By contrast, he is fine.

My partner says I’m always imagining things.

My partner hits me and then asks how I got hurt later.

My partner does abusive things and when I become upset, he tells me I’m hysterical. He asks me why I upset myself.

My partner says he can help me fix my character defects. He gets me to make lists of what’s wrong with me.

When I try to have a serious talk with him, my partner says, “There you go again. Calm down.” ___ He treats me as though I’m upset when I’m not.

Control by Ignoring Your Needs and Opinions

My partner never helps me when the kids are sick, or when I’m ill. Or he promises to help me and then forgets.

My partner expects me to drop my activities whenever he wants my attention, but he never pays that kind of attention to me.

When I try to talk, my partner constantly interrupts me, twists my words, or forgets what I just said.

When I want to resolve a problem, the subject is changed before I even realize it.

My partner shows up unannounced whenever he wants to, or fails to show up when he said he would, so it’s hard for me to make any plans.

When my partner wants to go out on his own, he does; but I can’t because the kids are my responsibility.

When I try to express my opinion about anything my partner doesn’t respond, walks away, or makes fun of me.

Control Through Decision Making

My partner has to have the last word. I think we’ve reached an agreement about something, and then he goes out and does just the opposite.

If I bring up some decision he made but didn’t consult me about, he asks me why I’m harping on something that’s already been decided.

If I try to talk about a problem we’ve had, he accuses me of hanging onto things and not being forgiving.

My partner says some subjects are not open to discussion.

My partner says that it’s a man’s responsibility to make the decisions for the family.

I have to ask permission to do something on my own, whereas he does things on his own without consulting me or letting me know.

Control Through Money

I can’t get information about our financial situation even when I ask.

My partner withholds information and/or is patronizing about my ability.

I have to account for every dime I spend and also figure out how to make ends meet.

My partner spends money on whatever he wants.

He gets angry and blames me when he needs money and there’s none left.

My partner won’t give me a household allowance, so whenever I need some money I have to ask him for it.

My partner says that with all he does for me I ought to be glad to support him financially.
My partner gives me everything I want, but he always reminds me that I could never live so well without him.

My partner doesn’t work. He takes money out of my pocketbook or steals my stuff and sells it.

Control Through Shifting Responsibility

If I tell my partner that he’s too bossy and critical, he tells me I’m immature.

We always end up picking apart my personality.

My partner says that he can’t stay clean and sober because he lives with a bitch like me.

My partner says that if I ever leave him, he’ll kill himself and I’ll be responsible.

My partner lost his job and blamed me for it.

Now he refuses to work. My partner says he wouldn’t lose his temper if I kept the kids quieter.

My partner says he wouldn’t go after other women if I kept myself up better.

My partner says he’d take me out more if I weren’t so stupid.

My partner says he’s always good-natured with other people, so it must be what I do that makes him lose control of himself.

Control Through Limiting Contact with Other People

When I want to go out, my partner starts a fight.

My partner doesn’t like me to spend time with my family, with or without him.

My partner tells me I never give him enough of my time, that I care more for my friends and family than I do for him.

Although he never says it directly, I think my partner wants me to ask his permission before I go somewhere.

My partner grills me about what happened whenever I go out.

My partner accuses me of having affairs.

My partner makes me late for work or made me miss work so many times that I lost my job.

When I spend time with women friends, my partner accuses me of being a lesbian.

Control Through Physical Intimidation

My partner blocks the door so I can’t leave during an argument.

My partner scares me when he’s angry by standing very close to me and clenching his fists.

When we argue, I’m sometimes afraid of what he might do, so I stop arguing.

My partner drives recklessly whenever he is angry with me, and it scares me to death.

My partner throws things around and breaks things.

My partner destroys my clothes and my favorite things.

My partner refuses to leave when I ask him to.

My partner won’t let me sleep.

Control Through Sexual Humiliation

My partner pressures me to have sex in ways that make me uncomfortable.

My partner makes sexual jokes about me in front of the children and other people.

My partner makes fun of my body.

My partner tries to seduce my friends and family members.

My partner forces me to dress in ways he thinks are “sexy” but that make me feel uncomfortable.

My partner compares me to women in pornographic magazines and videos.

My partner tells dirty jokes that are degrading to me and to women in general.

Control Through Physical and Sexual Violence

My partner throws things at me.

My partner pulls my hair.

My partner beats my head against the wall.

My partner chokes me.

My partner kicks me.

My partner shoves and pushes me.

My partner restrains me or keeps me from leaving.

My partner hits me.

My partner forces me to have sex with others.

My partner rapes me.

My partner threatens me with weapons.

My partner hurts me and then won’t let me go to the hospital or to a doctor.

Questions To Think About:

 How have the controlling behaviors affected you?

 Have you ever taken responsibility for your partner’s abusive behavior?

 Have you experienced giving up important parts of yourself or feel like “I’m no longer me”?

 What is the difference between caring and controlling behavior?


1 From When Love Goes Wrong, Susan Schechter and Ann Jones, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1992; adapted by Jennifer Parker, MSSW for Women’s Voices, 1997, with permission of Susan Schechter.




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