Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence, which could potentially be triggering.
Are you in a domestic violence situation? Would you know if you were? You should look out for some different signs if you think you or someone else you know may be in trouble. Domestic or dating violence isn't just about physical violence, and it's important to understand that you could be in an abusive situation without your partner ever laying a hand on you. Make sure you look at each of these and how they could affect you.
Signs Of Domestic Violence
This is where most people think of domestic violence, and it's one of the most obvious ones. If your partner hits, kicks, or otherwise physically attacks you; it's much easier to recognize that something is happening. That doesn't mean that it's easier to leave, just that it's easier to recognize that what they are doing is wrong or what they are doing is a type of abuse. It's simple for those on the outside to see that something is happening because there are physical signs of it in the form of bruises, burns, cuts, or anything else.
It's important to note, however, that physical violence does not need to leave marks either. A slap or a kick may not always leave a mark behind, but it's still physical violence, and it's still domestic violence. There are some other types of domestic violence as well that may or may not leave physical marks. Also, other types of domestic violence may occur on their own, or they may occur in conjunction with physical violence or others. Your situation is likely to be unique to you.
You know if you are in a relationship where your partner has crossed the line by causing you any physical harm. However, it's not always so easy to spot this in other people's relationships. Some of the signs that you can look for if you think someone else is being physically abused include:
Another type of physical violence, but a sub-classification, is sexual violence. There is a mistaken belief that if you are married or in a relationship, you can't be raped by your partner. However, this is not the case. Your body is your own to do what you want with, whether you are in a relationship or not, and that means you have the right to say no to your partner at any time. Rape, withholding or forcing birth control, denying or forcing abortion, or anything else that has to do with your reproductive health is sexual violence and a form of domestic violence.
Did you know that withholding money or keeping you from getting a job is a type of abuse? Many people don't realize it, but financial abuse is most definitely a type of domestic violence. A partner who refuses to allow you to get a job or pursue your education or someone who does not allow the other to have to money in the household (whether one or both partners are earning that money) is perpetrating domestic violence. Food, clothing, or other items may be withheld as a form of financial abuse as well.
This is one of the hard areas to prove, but it's extremely difficult to experience. If your partner uses intimidation or fear tactics to get you to do what they want you to do or to force you to follow their rules, it is considered psychological abuse. Forcing you to ask for permission to talk to others or do the things you want or even using emotional blackmail, threats of violence, or physical restraint to keep you from doing the things you want to do is considered domestic violence.
Finally, we come to emotional abuse, where the partner uses your thoughts and feelings against you, causing feelings of humiliation or subjecting you to insults and criticism, even in front of others. They may make you feel bad about yourself or cause damage to your self-worth. These types of abuse are difficult to prove and difficult even for the person suffering to recognize because it happens so gradually and wears down the self-esteem so much that the individual may not even realize that it's abusive in the first place.
Verbal abuse is exactly what it sounds like. It's when your partner calls you names, belittles you, or insults you in other ways verbally. This goes hand in hand with emotional abuse. Even if you don't think that the words they are saying are causing you any harm, it's usually starting deep inside of you. When someone is constantly subjected to verbal abuse, they can start to believe what is being said about them.
One Type Of Abuse Is Not Better Than Another
Some individuals experiencing abuse will use the excuse that other abuse types are worse than they are experiencing. Most people think that physical abuse is the worst because you can see the results of it. People experiencing other types of abuse will usually stay in the relationship, saying that they would leave if it reached the point of physical abuse. However, this usually doesn't end up being true either.
The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the harder it is to get out. You might start to become familiar with the way the relationship is, and the thought of walking away from it seems almost impossible. One of the reasons this happens is that you have become controlled by the other person. They use fear and intimidation, even if it's done indirectly, to keep you right where you are. You are too afraid to leave because you don't know what that would look like, and you may feel that you need to be with the other person.
Love In Abusive Relationships
Love can exist in abusive relationships, but it's not a healthy form of love. You should never love someone out of fear or because you think that you are helping them. While no relationship is perfect, if someone loves you, they want what is best for you, never abuse.
If someone is abusing you in any way, they may have feelings of love for you, and you may love them despite it, but it's not healthy to stay in the relationship the way that it currently is. You need to get help.
No matter what type of abuse you may be going through, getting help will always be important. Don't suffer through any abuse for any reason. Your partner does not have the right to treat you that way, and you do not need to suffer any longer. Of course, it can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive situation, and that's why getting additional help is an important step. Finding friends and family who can help you is a great way to start because they can give you somewhere to go when you finally leave the situation or give you the support you need to leave finally.
If that isn't enough, or if you've just left a domestic violence situation, you should seek professional help to get you through it. A mental health professional can help you better understand what you're experiencing, what you're feeling, and what you've been going through as well. They will be able to help you work through everything and start to get your life back on track in whatever way possible. This can help you start living the life you want to live instead of being trapped any longer.
ReGain is one place that you can find a mental health professional that you can feel comfortable with. This system is entirely online and allows you to connect without going to a psychiatrist's office. You'll be able to connect from anywhere that you happen to be, as long as you have internet and from just about any device that you want, including a phone, tablet, or computer. That makes it easier for you to feel comfortable and open up to your therapist. Just like that, you can be on your way to feeling better and getting on with your life the way you were meant to.
The Most Important Thing
The most important thing if you are in an abusive relationship is to keep yourself safe. If you have been physically abused, then you need to leave. A counselor or non-profit organization working with people in similar situations can help you create a plan to leave. You will need to have a place that you can go to, and you'll want it to be a place where your partner will not be able to find you.
If you have children, it is even more important that you know the right way to leave the situation so you are not forced into putting your children into an unsafe situation.
Leaving the situation to yourself does not necessarily mean that your relationship has to end, but you need to reach a place to decide your next step. You are not able to think through this step when you are in a dangerous situation.
Couples counseling could be an option to help you improve your relationship, or it could be what you need to help you realize that your relationship is not safe, physically or mentally, for you to continue in.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the 5 signs of abuse?
Domestic abuse can manifest itself in many different ways. Because of this, there are many different warnings or signs of domestic abuse.
Here is an incomplete but helpful list of potential signs of abuse:
Research has shown that, unfortunately, relationship abuse is very common, and because of that, we see many different ways domestic violence shows itself. Some common abuse warning signs may be easier to spot than others, but if you feel you have reason to suspect someone's being abused, it may be safest not to ignore your gut.
If you think you may be dealing with domestic violence, please do not hesitate to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The national domestic violence hotline provides free, professional advice to help you through domestic abuse.
In addition to the national domestic violence hotline, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence Awareness Month can help provide resources and raise awareness for survivors of domestic violence.
For example, one thing Domestic Violence Awareness Month helped raise awareness for was domestic violence against men. In discussions of domestic violence, women typically dominate the space (and with good reason - as research has shown that women are far more likely to deal with it than men).
Still, domestic violence toward men is a serious issue that deserves recognition. Many men don't seek help (or are afraid to) following domestic violence for many reasons, including societal expectations for men.
When discussing domestic violence experiences and consequences, women and men can find common ground and support one another.
What are the four stages of violence?
Experts consider there to be four stages in the cycle of domestic abuse.
The first stage is the tension-building stage. This stage is where many signs of domestic abuse may show themselves.
Things like walking on eggshells around each other, passive-aggressive behavior, substance abuse, or poor communication could appear in this stage and be considered warning signs of domestic violence.
The second stage is the incident of domestic abuse stage. This is when the actual act of domestic violence and abuse occurs.
Incoming abuse warning signs include aggressive physical or verbal attacks (if you are experiencing something like this, please don't hesitate to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.)
The third stage is the honeymoon stage. This is where the person that commits domestic abuse apologizes, promises that they'll change, or other similar actions.
Even if they are saying one thing, there could still be abuse warning signs. Unfortunately for many individuals who experience domestic violence, it isn't a one-time incident but rather the beginning of recurring domestic violence and abuse.
The final stage is the calm stage. This could be considered an extension of the honeymoon stage, where the abuser shows kindness.
However, individuals must stay vigilant and alert to domestic violence warning signs because it is possible, perhaps probable, that the cycle will reset itself and enter back into the tension-building phase.
Again, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline for professional help if you experience any of these stages.
What is the most common domestic violence?
There isn't hard evidence about which type of domestic violence is the most common, but we know which types tend to show up the most.
Physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and psychological abuse are the most commonly reported forms of relationship abuse. The signs of abuse for these different types can be quite different.
The physical abuse warning signs are the easiest to see because they take a physical toll on one's body. For something like financial abuse, the signs of abuse are far harder to see.
If you feel you might be experiencing domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Additionally, learning more about domestic abuse signs, perhaps through the Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) campaign, can help you see signs of abuse sooner.
Who can be an abuser?
The unfortunate reality is that anybody can be an abuser.
Research suggests men are more often abusers, but women can very easily be abusers, so it is crucial to keep an eye out for domestic abuse signs regardless of gender.
Research suggests that as they are more often experienced domestic violence, women are advised to know domestic abuse signs. Knowing the signs of domestic violence is an essential part of preventing it. There are many resources available to directly assist you in this process (the National Domestic Violence Hotline or even National Domestic Violence Awareness Month).
Abusers might appear like normal, social, even nice people in public. But one's public perception doesn't define their actions.
What is emotional abuse in adults?
Emotional abuse in adults can be just as damaging as emotional abuse in children.
This type of relationship abuse can take the form of verbal abuse, throwing constant insults or belittling a partner, or as psychological abuse, in which somebody is tormenting their partner and making them doubt themselves.
This kind of relationship abuse can't be overlooked - it is sometimes more damaging than physical abuse because the effects can be long-lasting, such as potentially developing depression or anxiety.
If you believe you are experiencing any emotional or physical abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline will provide free, , professional help to navigate your situation.
What does narcissistic abuse feel like?
Narcissistic abuse includes verbal abuse, manipulation, and making one feel bad about themselves.
This falls under the larger category of domestic violence. Research suggests women are more likely to experience narcissistic abuse, but it can easily be the other way around.
Narcissistic abuse makes one feel isolated, inadequate, and possibly depressed. It is a terrible type of abuse that nobody should have to experience.
If you think you may be experiencing narcissistic abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for professional help and assistance.