How do you know if you are in an abusive relationship?
If you want to save this information but don’t think it is safe to take it home, see if a trusted friend can keep it for you. Plan ahead. Know who you can call for help, and memorize the phone number. Be careful online too. Your online activity may be seen by others. Do not use your personal computer or device to read about this topic. Use a safe computer such as one at work, a friend’s house, or a library.
Domestic violence—also called intimate partner violence—can take many forms. It can affect your mind and emotions, or it can be physical or dangerous to your life. If you’re not sure if you’re being abused, ask yourself the following questions.
Does your partner:
- Hit, shove, slap, kick, punch, or choke you?
- Threaten to hurt or kill you?
- Call you names or tell you that you are crazy?
- Criticize things you do or say, or criticize how you look?
- Hurt your pets or destroy things that are special to you?
- Blame you for the abuse they commit?
- Limit where you can go, what you can do, and who you can talk to?
- Unexpectedly check up on you at your workplace, home, school, or elsewhere?
- Try to convince or force you to have sex, perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with, or sexually assault you?
- Threaten to have you deported?
- Apologize and tell you it will never happen again (even though it already has)?
- Control all your money and finances?
- Keep you away from family and friends?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. There are people who can help you. You are not alone. Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, a doctor, or a help center. Talking with someone can help you make the changes you need to stay safe.
How can you tell if someone is in an abusive relationship?
Do you have a friend, coworker, relative, or neighbor who you think may be in an abusive relationship?
Here are some signs to watch for:
- Bruises or injuries that look like they came from choking, punching, or being thrown down. Black eyes, red or purple marks at the neck, and sprained wrists are common injuries in violent relationships.
- Attempting to hide bruises with makeup or clothing
- Making excuses like tripping or being accident-prone or clumsy. Often the seriousness of the injury does not match up with the explanation.
- Having few close friends and being isolated from relatives and coworkers and kept from making friends
- Having to ask permission to meet, talk with, or do things with other people
- Having little money available; may not have credit cards or even a car
- Having low self-esteem; being extremely apologetic and meek
- Referring to the partner’s temper but not disclosing the extent of the abuse
- Having substance use disorder
- Having symptoms of depression, such as sadness or hopelessness, or loss of interest in daily activities
- Talking about suicide, attempting suicide, or showing other warning signs of suicide. Encourage this person to talk with a health professional.
Be supportive, and let your friend know that you are there to listen and help.
Where to Get Help
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you find resources in your area. This nationwide database has detailed information on domestic violence shelters, other emergency shelters, legal support and assistance programs, and social service programs.
For more Violence and Abuse resources, visit our VRC community resources page.