signs of domestic violence (2023)

Domestic violence goes beyond physical abuse or violence. Abusers use many physical, mental, or emotional tactics to assert their power and control over their victim and keep them in the relationship. There are patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship. Identifying them is the first step to getting rid of abuse.

signs of domestic violence (1)

signs of domestic violence

In domestic violence relationships, there are many behaviors that the abuser employs to gain and maintain power and control over the partner. While all relationships are different, understanding the various types of abuse can help you recognize signs of abuse and prepare you to respond safely.

You may be abused if your partner does or repeats any of the following behaviors:


Someone commits physical abuse when:

  • Pulling your hair or hitting, hitting, kicking, biting, choking or suffocating you
  • Prohibit or prevent eating or sleeping
  • Use any weapon against you, including firearms, knives, clubs or clubs
  • Avoid contacting emergency services, including health services or the police
  • harm your children or pets
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously with you in the car or leaving it in places unknown
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol, especially if you have a historySubstance use problems
  • Pick up at your home or prevent them from leaving
  • throw objects at you
  • Preventing you from taking prescription drugs or denying necessary medical treatment

Do you need help now?

If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
If you are not in immediate danger but are experiencing abuse or are concerned about a loved one, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

  • Financial help:800-799 INSURANCE (7233)
  • Text: "START" for 88788
  • Chat:

The Hotline is a service that provides safe care, support and resources to help you find options for your specific situation.

emotional abuse

Signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Constantly berating, berating or criticizing you
  • Act jealous or possessive or refuse to trust you
  • Isolate yourself from family, friends, or anyone else in your life.
  • Monitor your activities with or without your knowledge, including demanding to know where you go, who you contact and how you spend your time
  • Try to control what you wear, including clothes, makeup or hairstyles.
  • Humiliate yourself anyway, especially in front of others.
  • Take advantage of this by pretending not to understand or by refusing to listen; challenge your memory of facts, events or sources; make your needs or feelings seem unimportant; or deny prior statements or promises
  • Threaten your children, family, or pets
  • Damage your property, including throwing objects, crashing into walls and kicking in doors
  • Blaming them for your abusive behavior
  • Accusing them of cheating or deceiving themselves and holding them accountable for their actions.
  • They trick you into intentionally harming you and threaten to trick you again to claim they are "better" than you
  • To tell them you're lucky to be with them or you'll never find someone better

sexual abuse

Someone commits sexual abuse when:

  • It forces you to dress in a sexual way that you are uncomfortable with.
  • Sexually insulted you or explicitly verbally abused you.
  • Forcing or manipulating you to have sex or engage in sexual activity, especially when you are sick, tired, or physically injured as a result of your abuse.
  • Smothering or holding you during sex without your consent
  • preventing you from having sex without your consent
  • Injuring yourself during sexual intercourse with weapons or objects
  • Engaging others in your sexual activities against your will
  • Ignore your feelings about sex.
  • Forces you to watch or make pornography.
  • Deliberately give or try to give aSexually transmitted disease(THAT'S IT)

What to do if you are sexually harassed

traits of an offender

There is no set of identities or personalities of an offender. The perpetrators come from different cultures, religions, economic levels and professions. They can be of any gender or sexuality. They could be your neighbor, your child's teacher, your colleague, your friend or your spouse.

It is not always obvious or detectable when someone is a bully. However, abusers also share several common traits, including:

  • Perpetrators deny or downplay the seriousness of the violence against the victim and other family members.
  • Perpetrators objectify the victim and see her as their property or sex object.
  • Abusers may appear successful, but internally they have littleSelf-esteemand feel powerless and inadequate.
  • Perpetrators blame others or circumstances. For example, they may blame stress, partner behavior, a bad day, drugs, alcohol, or other factors for an outbreak of violence.
  • Abusers are not always abusive. They go through phases where they are loving and gentle, often appearing sympathetic and charming to those outside the relationship.

Warning sign of a perpetrator

Some red flags or warning signs of abusers may include extreme jealousy, possessiveness, unpredictability, short temper or mood swings, controlling behavior, threatening, belittling or humiliating the victim, sabotaging the victim's ability to make personal decisions, rigid beliefs about men's roles. and women in relationships or animal cruelty.

Identify and prevent intimate partner violence

performance and steering wheel

Since the 1970s, the term "cycle of abuse“It has been talked about in court, in therapy sessions and in the media. This language is outdated and harmful to the victim because it implies that there are four predictable and repetitive patterns in the relationship (increased tension, incident, reconciliation, calm).

The implication that domestic violence is a cycle is often used in court to blame victims. However, domestic abuse is unpredictable and victims may not know when and what incidents of abuse to expect.

On the other hand theNational Domestic Violence Hotlineuses the Duluth model of power and control developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs to more accurately describe an abusive relationship.

The outer ring of the graph represents physical and sexual violence. The inner part of the diagram (the spokes of the wheel) describes the more subtle and systematic behaviors employed by the abuser. These constant tactics of threats, intimidation and coercioninstill fear, while physical and sexual violence keeps the wheel together.

signs of domestic violence (2)

The chart assumes the pronouns she/she for the victim and er/he for the aggressor, but abusive behavior can occur with people of any gender or sexuality.

Domestic violence resources

The process of leaving an abusive relationship takes a lot of courage and careful planning, as well as taking precautions to avoid physical danger. There are many resources available if you or someone you know needs help getting out of an abusive relationship. The following websites and hotlines can help you manage a crisis, create a safety plan and plan for your future, including financial education resources and service recommendations.

What is a security plan?

In times of crisis, it can be difficult to think clearly and logically. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan for improving your safety while experiencing abuse, preparing to leave an abusive situation, or after leaving.

It contains important and specific information, e.g. B. where you have a handy phone number, who to contact, where to get in and out of the house, reasons to leave the house, or how to leave the house safely. If there are children involved, it can include what they are expected to do during an incident. This plan will help you prepare for high-stress situations to protect yourself or others.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-7233 (INSURANCE)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Dating Abuse Hotline

National Domestic Violence Resource Center

National Center for Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health
312-726-7020 Extension 2011

Future without violence: National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence

How to help another person

If you witness or become aware of abuse, it can be difficult to know how to respond, if and when to act. The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests the following tips:

  • Think of your own safety and that of the victim. If you are in a public place, gather a group of people to socialize physically ororal. If you feel that there is imminent danger, you have the right to call the police.
  • If an incident occurs or you hear about it in public, please record the incident on your phone to report it to the authorities.
  • Approach the person you suspect is being abused in a safe, private space. Ask her, "Are you okay?" Listen carefully and believe what they say. Tell them it's not their fault and they deserve support. Don't blame them or tell them what to do about your situation.
  • Refer them to a crisis hotline and continue to offer your support as someone they can safely talk to or discuss their safety plan.
  • Honor your autonomy. Only they can decide what's right for them, end the relationship or report it. You can voice your concerns, but you don't have the right to make decisions for them.

notypes of abusethey mean business and no one deserves to be abused for any reason.


Domestic violence occurs when an abuser uses physical, sexual and/or emotional tactics to control their partner. There is no set of identities or personalities of an offender. They can be of any gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and age. Many abusers share common traits that can help you identify them, such as jealousy, possessiveness, unpredictability, short tempers or mood swings, and more.

The process of leaving an abusive relationship takes a lot of courage and careful planning. There are many resources available if you or someone you know needs help getting out of an abusive relationship.

These "distress signals" can help you get out of an unsafe situation

A Word from Verywell

If you are being abused by your partner, remember that it's not your fault. There is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. There is nothing you can do to change or control your abuser. It's their only opportunity to abuse and their only responsibility to change, not yours.

You may feel scared or even trapped by your abuser, so it's important to be hopeful. While it's difficult, changing your circumstances is possible. When you feel ready, help and resources are available to help you stay safe and get out of the abuser.

common questions

  • How to recognize the signs of domestic violence?

    The signs of domestic violence are different in every relationship. However, a common feature of most abusive relationships is that the abuser seeks to gain power and control over the partner. Methods used may include intimidation, shaming or contempt, isolating you from friends and family and preventing you from making your own decisions.

  • Are the perpetrators hiding in plain sight?

    The perpetrators can hide in plain sight. Between periods of abuse, they can be gentle and charming. To those outside of their abusive relationship, abusers are often seen as "nice" people.

  • Can they improve abusive relationships?

    It is possible, but unlikely, that an abusive relationship can improve. Abuse is the result of learned attitudes, feelings and behaviors that are very difficult to change. It can be a decades-long journey to a lifelong commitment that involves multiple interventions such as counseling, anger management programs and mental health treatments. As a result, only a very small percentage can actually change.

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Verywell Health only uses quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processto learn more about how we review our content and keep it accurate, reliable, and reliable.

  1. National Domestic Violence Hotline.types of abuse.

  2. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.signs of abuse.

  3. Intervention programs in domestic violence.Understand the wheel of power and control.

  4. National Domestic Violence Hotline.What is a security plan?
  5. National Domestic Violence Hotline.Tips for intervening with witnesses of domestic violence.

signs of domestic violence (3)

VonRebecca Valdez, MS, RDN
Rebecca Valdez is a registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant with a passion for nutritional justice, equity and sustainability.

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What are the signs and symptoms of violence? ›

They might look like:
  • Increased loss of temper.
  • Frequent physical fighting.
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Increased risk-taking behavior.
  • Declining school performance.
  • Acute episode of major mental illness.
  • Planning how to commit acts of violence.
  • Announcing threats or plans for hurting others.
Jan 1, 2013

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

Which of the following are signs of abuse? ›

What are the signs and symptoms of abuse? poor personal hygiene, loss of weight or dehydration, unexplained bruises, patches of missing hair, burn marks, unclean or unsafe living conditions, anxious and fearful and maybe withdrawn demeanour, uncontrolled medical condition and chafing or discharge from genital area.

What are seven signs that could indicate abuse? ›

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include but are not limited to:
  • bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.
  • bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures.
  • open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing.
  • sprains, dislocations, and internal injuries/bleeding.

What are the early warning signs of violent behavior? ›

Early warning signs for violent behavior are social withdrawal, excessive feelings of isolation and rejection, being a victim of violence, feelings of persecution, uncontrolled anger, patterns of impulsive and chronic intimidation, a history of discipline problems and aggressive behavior, intolerance for differences, ...

What are two warning signs of emotional abuse? ›

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse to Look for?
  • Feel insecure and have low self-esteem.
  • Appear depressed or anxious.
  • Be withdrawn even in the presence of others.
  • No longer go out and socialize as they used to.
  • Miss work or other events and responsibilities.
Nov 15, 2018

What are behavioral indicators of violence? ›

Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation. Behavior that may suggest paranoia (e.g., “everybody is against me”). Escalation of domestic problems into the workplace. Talk of severe financial problems.

What are 5 risk behaviors for violence? ›

Specific risk factors include the abuse of alcohol, actual and perceived inequality of treatment, exposure to violence in the media, gang association, accessibility of weapons, and child abuse of various types.

What are signs of narcissistic abuse? ›

Signs of Narcissistic Abuse
  • Signs of narcissistic abuse include:
  • Love-bombing. It's not unusual for people with NPD to shower you with compliments and affection. ...
  • Gaslighting. ...
  • Ignoring boundaries. ...
  • Projecting. ...
  • Nitpicking. ...
  • Some common examples of narcissistic abuse include: ...
  • Anxiety and depression.
Sep 29, 2022

What are 6 behaviors that indicate emotional abuse? ›

Examples include intimidation, coercion, ridiculing, harassment, treating an adult like a child, isolating an adult from family, friends, or regular activity, use of silence to control behavior, and yelling or swearing which results in mental distress. Signs of emotional abuse.

What is the most difficult abuse to identify? ›

Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.

How can you tell if someone was abused in the past? ›

emotional difficulties like anger, anxiety, sadness or low self-esteem. mental health problems like depression, eating disorders, self harm or suicidal thoughts. problems with drugs or alcohol. disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories.

What are the 3 common conditions mistaken for abuse? ›

Several medical conditions have been reported to mimic the physical manifestations of child abuse and neglect (CAN). These conditions include genetic, congenital, and other disorders that may result in poor weight gain, bone fracture, or skin lesions that appear to be bruises or burns.

What is a pattern of abuse? ›

The cycle of abuse is a four-stage cycle used to describe the way abuse sometimes occurs in relationships. The stages—tension, incident, reconciliation, and calm—repeat themselves over and over again if the abuse follows this pattern.

What are the 4 main abuse? ›

There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Find out more about each below, as well as the warning signs that a child may be being abused.

What are the 4 main types of intimate partner violence? ›

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four types of intimate partner violence—physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.

What body language shows aggression? ›

Examples of aggressive body language may include: Sharp, angular gestures – making gestures that are not smooth, for example chopping hands, banging one fist against an open hand, finger-pointing or waving fists. Space invading – getting too close to someone else. Eyeballing – intense eye contact or staring.

What are the top 5 causes of violent behavior? ›

Individual Risk Factors
  • History of violent victimization.
  • Attention deficits, hyperactivity, or learning disorders.
  • History of early aggressive behavior.
  • Involvement with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
  • Low IQ.
  • Poor behavioral control.
  • Deficits in social cognitive or information-processing abilities.
  • High emotional distress.

What are red flags emotional manipulation? ›

making choices to please others instead of yourself. frequently questioning whether you said the right thing or made the right choice. making excuses for the person gaslighting you to family and friends. lying or isolating yourself from loved ones to avoid conflict.

How do victims of emotional abuse behave? ›

You may experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, shame, guilt, frequent crying, over-compliance, powerlessness, and more. You may stay in the relationship and try to bargain with the abuser or try to change the abuser's behavior, often placing blame on yourself, even though you are not at fault.

What does emotional abuse do to a woman? ›

Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression, or anxiety. Read more about the effects on your health. You may also: Question your memory of events: “Did that really happen?” (See Gaslighting.)

What are the 4 main behaviors? ›

The predominant four functions of behavior are attention, escape, access, and sensory needs. These four functions allow us to understand and categorize someone's actions, as well as determine why behaviors occur. All actions can be attributed to one of these four functions of behavior.

What are the 3 behavioral indicators? ›

Behavioral indicators of physical abuse include: Fear of going home. Extreme apprehensiveness or vigilance. Pronounced aggression or passivity.

Which behavioral characteristic describes the domestic abuser? ›

This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.

What are 2 high risk behaviors? ›

High-risk behaviors are defined as acts that increase the risk of disease or injury, which can subsequently lead to disability, death, or social problems. The most common high-risk behaviors include violence, alcoholism, tobacco use disorder, risky sexual behaviors, and eating disorders.

What are the 4 most common causes of violence? ›

Other factors which can be causes of violence include:

Having low self-worth. Experiencing abuse or neglect. Witnessing violence in the home, community, or medias. Access to weapons.

What are the common violent actions and behavior? ›

Violent crimes are typically divided into four main categories, based on the nature of the behaviour: homicide (the killing of one human being by another, sometimes for legally justifiable reasons), assault (physically attacking another person with the intent to cause harm), robbery (forcibly taking something from ...

What are the red flags of a narcissist? ›

Here are some narcissism red flags to look out for: Lacking empathy. They seem unable or unwilling to have empathy for others, and they appear to have no desire for emotional intimacy. Unrealistic sense of entitlement.

How does a narcissist act in a relationship? ›

Narcissistic partners act as if they are always right, that they know better and that their partner is wrong or incompetent. This often leaves the other person in the relationship either angry and trying to defend themselves or identifying with this negative self-image and feeling badly about themselves.

How do victims of narcissists behave? ›

Victims of narcissistic abuse have been reported to experience symptoms similar to PTSD, known informally as narcissistic abuse syndrome. Symptoms include intrusive, invasive, or unwanted thoughts, flashbacks, avoidance, feelings of loneliness, isolation, and feeling extremely alert.

What is gaslighting emotional abuse? ›

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser attempts to sow self-doubt and confusion in their victim's mind. Typically, gaslighters are seeking to gain power and control over the other person, by distorting reality and forcing them to question their own judgment and intuition.

What is a trauma bonded relationship? ›

A trauma bond is a connection between an abusive person and the individual they abuse. It is reflective of an attachment created by repeating physical or emotional trauma with positive reinforcement. It can be hard to spot and even harder to break free from.

What are the two signature moves of gaslighters? ›

“Gaslighters have two signature moves,” she wrote. “They lie with the intent of creating a false reality, and they cut off their victims socially.” They spread gossip, they take credit for other people's work, and they undercut others in furtherance of their own position.

What are red flags for gaslighting? ›

Signs of Gaslighting. You doubt your feelings and reality: You try to convince yourself that the treatment you receive is not that bad or that you are too sensitive. You question your judgment and perceptions: You are afraid of speaking up or expressing your emotions.

Who gets abused the most? ›

Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

Can you list 5 possible signs of abuse? ›

Common signs

becoming withdrawn. seeming anxious. becoming uncharacteristically aggressive. lacks social skills and has few friends, if any.

What is the number one cause of abuse? ›

Risk factors

Family crisis or stress, including domestic violence and other marital conflicts, or single parenting. A child in the family who is developmentally or physically disabled. Financial stress, unemployment or poverty. Social or extended family isolation.

What does emotional abuse trauma look like? ›

Frequent crying, anxiety, confusion, guilt, and shame are just some of the feelings commonly felt by those who've been emotionally abused. And if left untreated, PTSD can also trigger the patient to develop other mental health issues, such as anxiety disorder, depression, etc.

Can you abuse someone without Realising? ›

Someone may not be aware that their behavior is defined as abuse. But, if the intention of their actions is to exert control, take your power away, manipulate you, or retain you against your will, then that is abusive behavior.

What is the most common reaction to abuse? ›

They may have intense stress reactions. Their breathing, blood pressure and heart rate may increase, and their muscles may tighten. They may feel exhausted but unable to sleep, and they may have headaches, increased or decreased appetites or digestive problems.

Which form of abuse is currently the most common? ›

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs and the most common form of child abuse2. A child might be left hungry or dirty, or without proper clothing, shelter, supervision or health care.

What are the 7 components of abuse? ›

The 7 most common types of elderly abuse include physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, self-neglect, and abandonment. Any of these elder abuse types can be devastating to older people and their families.

What are 3 characteristics of abusers? ›

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Unpredictability.
  • A bad temper.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Extremely controlling behavior.
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships.

What are the 3 main forms of abuse? ›

Types and Signs of Abuse
  • Physical abuse is intentional bodily injury. ...
  • Sexual abuse is nonconsensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact). ...
  • Mental mistreatment or emotional abuse is deliberately causing mental or emotional pain.

What are three 3 indicators that a patient is being emotionally abused? ›

Indicators of Emotional Abuse

Bed-wetting or bed soiling that has no medical cause. Frequent psychosomatic complaints (e.g. headaches, nausea, abdominal pains) Prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea.

What are the behaviors of an abuser? ›

Emotional/Psychological or Verbal Abuse – This behavior of an abuser can best be described as withdrawing or withholding emotional support or subjecting the victim to scathing verbal abuse. Behaviors include sulking, crying, withdrawing into silence, leaving, arguing, shouting, and insulting comments.

What is a controlling behavior by an abuser? ›

Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

What does abuse do to a woman? ›

Physical abuse can cause many chronic (long-lasting) health problems, including heart problems, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Women who are abused are also more likely to develop depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. Women who are abused may also misuse alcohol or drugs as a way to cope.

What type of abuse happens the most? ›

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.

What are four common acts of violence that occur in? ›

By looking more closely at the nature of acts of violence, these three categories can be further divided into four, more specific, types of violence:
  • Physical violence.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Psychological violence.
  • Neglect.

What does it mean when CPS red flags you? ›

Red flags are warning signs to look out for that potential child abuse and neglect are occurring within a client's home.

What are some recognizable signs of psychological abuse? ›

Possible indicators of psychological or emotional abuse
  • An air of silence when a particular person is present.
  • Withdrawal or change in the psychological state of the person.
  • Insomnia.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Uncooperative and aggressive behaviour.
  • A change of appetite, weight loss/gain.
  • Signs of distress: tearfulness, anger.

What qualifies as narcissistic abuse? ›

Narcissistic abuse refers to the emotional, physical, sexual, or financial forms of abuse that a narcissist inflicts on others. This abuse can range from mild putdowns to severe, life-threatening violence. If you're in a relationship with a narcissist, you may frequently feel angry, confused, or alone.


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