What are the signs of abuse?

In a perfect world, we’d be able to spot an abuser before we sat down for our first dinner date. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. If you ask a survivor of domestic violence how their abusive relationship was in the beginning, you may find that she/he believed it to be everything they had ever dreamed of. They may tell you that it wasn’t until later that they saw another side of their partner or spouse. The truth is that there are common red flags in abuse that are often missed or dismissed as the relationship progresses. Abuse may begin with a “slip of the tongue” – name calling, threats, and accusations. Behavior the abuser may apologize for and downplay as a joke, an accident or simply something being taken the wrong way. It may continue, in time progressing to controlling behavior such as alienating the victim from their friends and family or wanting the victim to spend all of their time with them. Domestic violence escalates and intensifies in severity, oftentimes evolving from verbal and emotional abuse to physical violence.

If your partner exhibits any of the following behaviors, it’s possible you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Jealous of time spent away with family and friends
  • Alienating from family and friends
  • Accusations of infidelity
  • Excessive monitoring of who their partner talks to (in person, on the phone, social media)
  • Constant interrogations
  • Name calling
  • Making demeaning or belittling comments
  • Embarrassing their partner in private or public
  • Criticizing everything their partner does
  • Playing the blame game and making her/him believe they can’t do anything right
  • Using personal information against their partner for blackmail
  • Twisting words and/or making their partner feel “crazy” (gas lighting)
  • Not taking responsibility for his/her own actions
  • Hitting or slapping
  • Biting
  • Pushing
  • Choking
  • Spitting
  • Pulling hair
  • Restraining or hindering their partner from leaving
  • Punching walls
  • Stalking
  • Threatening to use or using weapons
  • Threatening to harm family, friends or pets
  • Forcing unwanted sexual acts or intercourse

If you are in an abusive relationship or believe you might be, please contact your local domestic violence shelter or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224.

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