Spotting the signs of abuse

This page contains information about spotting the signs of abuse in a domestic violence relationship. If you are looking for other resources consider these links:
Click here for information on how to support children who witness abuse
Click here for information on how to spot the signs of child sexual abuse


Whether you know it or not, some of the people in your life may be facing violence at home- maybe a friend, a coworker, or even a family member. For many reasons, it is often hard for victims to acknowledge they are being abused by the people who are supposed to love them.

This list identifies a series of behaviors typically demonstrated by batterers and abusive people. All of these forms of abuse- verbal, emotional, psychological, economic and physical – come from the batterer’s desire for power and control. The list can help you recognize if you or someone you know is in a violent relationship.

Verbal/Emotional Abuse – Put downs, name calling, constantly criticizing, provoking public or private humiliation, or making the person feel crazy; making the victim feel bad about herself or himself.

Intimidation –Making someone afraid by using looks, gestures, actions; smashing things, destroying her property; abusing pets, displaying weapons

Disrespect – Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting the victim’s words; putting her/him down in front of other people; saying bad things about her friends or family.

Abusing Trust – Lying, withholding information; cheating on the victim; being overly jealous, not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with childcare or housework.

Emotional Withholding – Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention, or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights or opinions.

Minimizing, Denying & Blaming – Making light of abusive behavior and not taking the victim’s concerns about it seriously; saying the abuse didn’t happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying she/he caused it.

Economic Control – Interfering with the victim’s work or not letting her/him work; refusing to give her money or taking her money; taking car keys or otherwise  preventing the victim from using the car; not letting the victim know about or have access to family income.

Coercion and Threats –Threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm such as abusing alcohol or drugs; deliberately saying or doing things that will have negative consequences (e.g., telling off the boss); threatening to report the victim to welfare or other social service agencies, make the victim do illegal things; making the victim drop charges.

Isolation - Preventing or making it difficult for the victim to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling her/him where she/he can and cannot go.

Controlling behavior – Constantly asking whereabouts; calling at work all day; checking car mileage; listening to phone calls; making uninvited visits or calls; following the victim; checking up on her; embarrassing her in public; refusing to leave when asked; limiting outside involvement; using jealousy to justify actions; controlling who the victim talks to, what she/he reads, what she/he does and who she/he sees.

Using Dominance – Treating the victim like a servant; making all the big decisions..

Children – Making the victim, feel guilty about the children; using children to relay messages; threatening to harm the children; threatening to report the victim to child protective services.

 

 

Get HELP Fast

Domestic Violence
24-hour Hotline
1-866-644-3574

Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline
1-800-277-5570

Find a Crisis Center

Call our hotlines anywhere in New Hampshire for support. Stalking victims should call the Domestic Violence Hotline. TTY available at 1-800-Relay-NH.

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