Threats can come in many different forms. They can be direct, such as verbal and physical threats, or they can be indirect, such as online or through friends. Threats may be obvious or more subtle and masked as joking around. Regardless of the form, threats are one of the first signs of a potentially abusive relationship and should be taken seriously. When your girlfriend threatens you, let her know that it is not OK, and take the necessary steps to avoid finding yourself in a dangerous relationship.

Verbal and Emotional Threats

Verbal and emotional threats come in many forms but most often follow the same pattern – "If you don’t do what I want, something is going to happen you don’t like." For example, your girlfriend may tell you that if you don’t buy her a necklace, she’s going to leave you. She might say that if you don’t do the dishes or put away your things, she’s going to throw your stuff out. If there are children involved, she may threaten to move away and not allow you to see the children. These types of threats are verbal and emotional abuse. Let her know these threats are hurtful and damaging to the relationship. Seek couples counseling if your girlfriend is willing to. It’s important to understand that you cannot change her, and if she is unwilling to change on her own, leave the relationship.

Social and Cyber Threats

Your girlfriend might be making threats to you indirectly, either through friends or online. These threats may be either emotional or physical threats that she says in a joking manner to friends. Most often, you’ll find out from concerned friends. Confront her, tell her the threats are not appropriate or funny and ask her to stop. Online threats can include threatening emails or social media status updates. The best way to stop these is by blocking her from your email and social media sites. Many sites also have the option to report harassment. Stop threatening texts by blocking her phone number.

Physical Threats

Physical threats include hitting, kicking, throwing things, destroying property and physical intimidation. If your girlfriend threatens to harm you physically, walk away and remove yourself from the situation. Immediately contact law enforcement if your life is in danger. If she is threatening to damage your property and you are not in danger, ask her to stop and tell her to leave. Remove your belongings to another location if you can. Never stay in a dangerous situation where there is the possibility of physical harm.

Reporting Ongoing Threats

Ongoing threats, either during the relationship or after it’s over, signify harassment. Depending on the nature of the threat, a one-time verbal threat may not be enough to claim harassment or involve law enforcement unless that threat is acted upon. However, if your girlfriend continues to make threats, you may need to involve law enforcement or obtain a court order to prevent her from making further threats. Keep records and documentation of all threats. If the threats are online, keep copies of emails or screenshots of social media posts. Save text messages and voice mails. Ask your friends to write statements of threats they have witnessed. Always contact law enforcement immediately if you or your property are in physical danger.