Most relationships have difficult times, and almost every couple argues now and then. But violence is different from common marital or relationship problems. Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse that a partner-former or current partner, spouse, or boyfriend or girlfriend-uses to control the behavior of another.
Domestic violence often starts with threats, name-calling, and slamming doors or breaking dishes, and it can build up to pushing, slapping, and other violent acts. If you are concerned about your relationship, ask yourself the following questions.
Does your partner:
- Embarrass you with put-downs?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Take your money or paycheck, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?
- Make all of the decisions?
- Tell you that you're a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
- Threaten to kill himself or herself?
- Prevent you from working or going to school?
- Act like the abuse is no big deal or is your fault, or even deny doing it?
- Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
- Intimidate you with guns, knives, or other weapons?
- Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
- Threaten to kill you?
If any of these things or other types of abuse are happening, you need to seek help. It's important to know that you are not alone. The way your partner acts is not your fault. Help is available.
Signs that someone you know is being abused
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
Other warning signs:
- Having low self-esteem; being extremely apologetic and meek
- Referring to the partner's temper but not disclosing the extent of the abuse
- Having a drug or alcohol abuse problem
- 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. For more information, see How To Help.