Is it abuse?

You may be wondering if what you are experiencing is abuse. After all, all relationships have rough patches, everyone has disagreements now and then and maybe your relationship is good sometimes. To fairly evaluate your situation, start with a gut-check by answering this simple question honestly:

Does your partner say or do things that make you feel badly — physically, emotionally or otherwise?

If the answer is yes, go deeper.

What does abuse look like?

In domestic violence situations, as one partner works to gain and maintain control over the other, we typically see four types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual and economic.

Physical abuse can include behaviors such as blocking, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting. Emotional abuse can include behaviors such as belittling, blaming, bullying, threatening and making false accusations. Sexual abuse can include coerced sexual activity or rape. And, economic abuse can include not being allowed to work, or having your money taken from you or having your spending tightly controlled.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives you a place to start thinking about what you are experiencing and what you’ll do next.


What does abuse feel like?

As the original question suggests, how you feel matters a great deal and may indicate that it’s time to take the next step. Here is a list of feelings common to survivors living in domestic violence situations:

  • Apprehensiveness or fearfulness – Survivors commonly report “walking on eggshells” to keep the peace at home and feeling afraid of their partners.

  • Confusion – Survivors frequently report going to great lengths to make their partners happy, but no matter what they do, the situation remains difficult.

  • Depression or hopeless – As domestic violence situations progress, many survivor’s experience a sadness that is difficult to shake.

  • Shame and/or aloneness – Survivor’s often find themselves ashamed of what is happening to them. This shame (or restrictions placed on them by their partners or their partner’s interference) may keep them from reaching out to others, which leads to feelings of isolation and aloneness.



What’s next?

If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic violence, we are here for you. Find a safe place and a safe phone and call our 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline, 904-354-3114. Trained advocates are standing by to talk with you about your situation and to share about the resources available to support you. The help is free and confidential, and you’ll make all the decisions, choosing what is right for you. Our goal is your safety and empowerment.


You are not alone.