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Knowing the Signs of Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is often kept behind closed doors and is thought of as a private, family matter—even though abusers’ tactics impact not only the victim and children in the household but friends, family members, employers, and the whole community.

Because of the silence that surrounds domestic violence and the sometimes subtle, manipulative and escalating tactics that abusers use, it is often hard for someone outside of the relationship to know for sure that something is wrong.

In our culture, attitudes about relationships, and particularly attitudes toward male entitlement and the status of women, create situations in which the abusive treatment of a partner can seem normal.

Abuse and degrading behavior are not acceptable. There are a number of warning signs which that can indicate that a partner is abusive. If you feel you or someone you care about is being abused, contact one of our member programs and seek help.

Abusive Relationship Warning Signs

Your partner may be abusing you if he or she:

  • Puts you down, calls you names, or criticizes you.
  • Acts jealous or possessive.
  • Tries to control or limit your contact with friends and family members.
  • Takes control of your finances, makes you ask for money, or refuses to give you money.
  • Undermines your parenting.
  • Refuses to allow you to use the family car or help you with transportation.
  • Follows you, listens in on phone calls, or reads your email or texts.
  • Threatens you with harm or acts in ways that frighten you or make you uncomfortable.
  • Threatens to report you to the police, family services, INS, or other legal authorities.
  • Displays or threatens you with weapons to make you afraid.
  • Expects you to ask permission to do anything.
  • Makes all the decisions for the household and does not respect your opinions.
  • Does not want you to work or attend school.
  • Punishes you by withholding affection.
  • Shoves, slaps, chokes, or hits you.
  • Forces you to have sex when you don’t want to or makes you perform sexual acts you don’t want to do.
  • Throws things, destroys your property, or threatens to harm your children or pets.
  • Denies abusing you, acts like what he or she did is not a big deal, or blames you for the abuse.
  • Forces you to try to drop charges after a violent incident.
  • Uses suicide threats as a method to control you.
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