How do I know if I am in an abusive relationship?

Look out for these signs[1]:

  • Does he makes all the decisions in your relationship, from little things like what you two wear and eat to where you should live?*
  • Does he stop you from meeting with your family and friends?
  • Does he try to control what you say, do, and where you go?
  • Does he try to stop you from going to work and/or school?
  • Is he destructive? Has he broken your stuff deliberately or abused your pets?
  • Does he steal your money or attempt to take control of what you earn?
  • Has he threatened to commit suicide if you leave him?
  • Does he warn you of “consequences” if you leave him?
  • Has he beaten you up? Slapped you deliberately?
  • Has he said that everything is your fault?
  • Does he make you feel afraid of him and what he will do if you don’t follow his decisions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, especially the last one, you may be in an abusive relationship. Get help now!

How do I know if someone I know is in an abusive relationship?

Here are some indicators which may tell you that she may well be experiencing
an abusive relationship[2]:

  • Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Frequent and sudden absences from work or school
  • Frequent, harassing phone calls from the partner
  • Fear of the partner, references to the partner’s anger
  • Personality changes (e.g. an outgoing woman becomes withdrawn)
  • Excessive fear of conflict
  • Submissive behaviour, lack of assertiveness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)
  • Depression, crying, low self-esteem
  • Frequently absent or gives excuses for not attending social functions with family and friends
  • Stress related ailments – headaches, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bruises on the body, particularly on the breasts and abdomen
  • Miscarriages / history of miscarriages
  • Repeated terminations of pregnancy / still births
  • Frequent Emergency Room visits
  • Multiple injuries in different stages of healing
  • Burns – cigarette burns, rope burns
  • Hair loss – consistent with hair pulling
  • Frequent use of pain medication
  • Unexplained “accidents” to children

This is by no means an exhaustive list but if you observed any of these signs, especially in tandem, the woman you know may be in an abusive relationship. Learn how to give her help.

Footnotes and Further Reading

  1. An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection, Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid,