Understanding Domestic Violence

Warning Signs of Abuse

Even the smallest signs can show danger in a relationship.

Victims of domestic violence respond to abuse in many different ways.

Some victims may present with obvious physical injuries, and some may not. Abusers may hurt their partners where they leave no marks, or use occasional physical violence partnered with constant emotional torture.

Some victims try to hide what’s happening. The abuser may have convinced them that they’re responsible for the abuse — that it’s their fault and they deserve it. In those situations, the victim may feel shame and fear being judged if they admit to being abused.

Some victims may appear overwhelmed, stressed, or scattered. A victim is forced to always think about how to keep themselves and their children safe. That in itself is challenging, but the victim also has to think about how to afford food, how to get to work, how to help the kids with school, and so much more. These daily tasks can be challenging for anyone, but very stressful for victims of domestic violence.

What You See

It may not be easy to see the effects of domestic violence on a person. Some of the signs you’re most likely to see include:

  • The victim seems afraid of their partner or is always very anxious to please that person.
  • The victim has stopped seeing friends or family.
  • The victim cuts phone conversations short when their partner is around.
  • The victim isn’t able to make their own decisions about spending money, making plans, etc. without getting approval from their partner.
  • The victim makes excuses for their partner’s behaviors.
  • The victim is always anxious about getting home when their partner expects them to be home.
  • The victim talks about their partner wanting to check in on them and know where they’re going and who they’ll be with. The victim may say it’s because their partner cares about their safety.
  • The victim always has their phone around and quickly answers their partner’s calls/texts.
  • The victim has become anxious or depressed, has lost confidence, or is unusually quiet.
  • The victim’s partner shows up unannounced or hangs around when you didn’t expect that person to be there.
  • The victim acts differently around their partner than when that person is not around.
  • The victim’s children seem afraid of the partner, have behavior problems, or are very withdrawn or anxious.
  • The victim is reluctant to leave their children with their partner.

Again, there is no uniform response to abuse, so you may see these signs, different ones, or none at all.

The bottom line is, if you think you know someone who is being abused, you can be a life-saving bridge to support.