Red Flags, Terms to Know, Statistics


Lists of red flags of various forms of abuse, exploitation, trauma and related mental health issues. Please call 911 (in the US) or reach out to a Crisis Hotline if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these warning signs and may be in the middle of an emergency. If you are not in the middle of an emergency, but are interested in seeking treatment, please visit our Approved Care Network page.



According to Judith Herman, M.D., “At the moment of trauma, the victim is rendered helpless by overwhelming force… Traumatic events are extraordinary, not because they occur rarely, but rather because they overwhelm the ordinary human adaptations to life.”

Love Bombing:

Showering someone with extreme “love,” attention and affection with the hidden motive of gaining their trust and dependence only to later exploit it. Often the first warning sign of any abusive relationship.


A form of psychological abuse whereby the perpetrator presents false or twisted information with the intention of making the victim doubt their own memory, perception, or sanity, disorienting them and making them more vulnerable to further abuse.

Trauma Bonding:

The strong attachment, attraction and/or devotion to harmful person(s) as a result of the cycle of abuse where there is fear, a power imbalance and intermittent reward and punishment present; a reaction to trauma in which the victim attempts to avoid further abuse by “agreeing with” an abuser; closely related to the fourth survival response in fight, flight, freeze or “fawn,” Stockholm syndrome and battered woman syndrome.

Trauma Repetition:

A subconscious compulsion to repeat trauma often by engaging in abusive relationships either as victim or perpetrator in an attempt to eliminate the original fear.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing; a therapy developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., widely named effective in treating trauma, using bilateral eye movements, tones or taps to desensitize and reprocess distressing feelings and negative cognitions and reinstall positive experiences necessary for healing.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

A therapy developed by Pat Ogden, Ph.D., to treat trauma using a body-centered approach and engaging the neocortex to heal the disconnection between body and mind and promote self-regulation.