Signs of Domestic Violence

The signs of domestic violence may not always be as obvious as you may think. That is because domestic violence is not always physical; abuse can also be financial, emotional, verbal, and sexual. Regardless, no one should have to experience abuse in his or her relationship and the first step is often coming to terms that the relationship may be abusive. Check out the signs of domestic violence to see whether you may be at risk.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is when a person uses physical force against someone else. There are many forms of physical abuse which often start as minor incidents (e.g., throwing an object) and then get progressively worse over time. Some examples of physical abuse can include;

  • Pushing, scratching, kicking, spitting, pushing, biting, or punching
  • Strangling or choking
  • Using weapons
  • Throwing or destroying property
  • Abusing other people or pets in front of the person
  • Depriving the person of food, water, and sleep
  • Physically restraining someone, pinning someone against the wall or ground

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is when someone takes control over someone else's finances. For instance, they may take control over their bank accounts or forbid them from spending any of their money. Some more examples of financial abuse can include;

  • Restricting access to someone's bank account
  • Taking control of their finances and money
  • Limiting their money and monitoring their spending habits (e.g., giving an allowance)
  • Preventing someone from going to work or from being able to work (e.g., hiding car keys, constantly calling the person while they are at work)
  • Using someone's money or credit card without their permission
  • Failing or refusing to contribute to expenses

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse may often not be as obvious as the signs of physical abuse. However, emotional abuse also can have a huge impact on someone's mental health and wear down someone's self-esteem, happiness, and confidence. This is what allows the perpetrator to maintain control in the relationship and manipulate the person from leaving the relationship. Some signs of emotional abuse can include;

  • Humiliating and intimidating your partner
  • Blaming the person for everything that goes wrong in the relationship
  • Constantly comparing the person to other people and making them feel bad about themselves
  • Insulting, name-calling, and yelling
  • Forcing them to stop seeing their friends and family, or making them ask permission
  • Threatening to suicide if they try to leave you
  • Preventing them from wearing what they want
  • Purposely making you confused and doubting your own sanity (e.g. moving things around, denying things which you know to be true)

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is when the person constantly makes negative remarks about the other person, thus wearing down their self-esteem. Some signs of verbal abuse includes;

  • Calling the person names
  • Yelling or constantly raising voice
  • Criticising and comparing the person to others
  • Swearing and humiliating the person in private or public

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a form of unwanted or forced sexual activity. The person inflicting the sexual abuse may often use threats, violence, or physical force. Some forms of sexual abuse include;

  • Rape
  • Unwanted touching or unwanted exposure to pornography
  • Purposely causing pain during sex
  • Being sexually degrading
  • Coercing someone into sexual acts or forcing someone to have sex without protection from STI's or pregnancy
  • Withholding sex as a form of punishment

In some instances, we may suspect that someone you know may be experiencing domestic abuse whether it is a colleague, friend, or family member. Some of the signs to look for may include;

  • Seem to be distant or have stopped seeing friends or family
  • Their partner often criticises them or humiliates them in public
  • They seem to have lost their confidence and suffer low-esteem
  • When they talk about their partner they may mention that that their partner often gets angry or forces them into doing things they don't feel comfortable with
  • They seem afraid of their partner
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries

If you suspect that your friend or family member is in an abusive relationship there are a number of things you can do. Often the person may be in denial or afraid to admit they are in an abusive relationship. Therefore, it is important to approach the topic gently and try not to push the person into talking. Rather, let them know you are worried and that you are there to talk and support them. If you feel that you or someone you care for is in a domestic violence relationship, there is help and support available! Check out to view the list of available resources and supports.

(Image from Unsplash by Dan Meyers)

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