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Know the Signs

(Domestic Violence)

Signs of domestic violence can be difficult to recognize because of its diverse forms. Here is a way to help identify abuse.

What are common signs your partner is being abusive in a relationship?

  • Keeps you from seeing or contacting your family and friends

  • Takes and controls money, including refusing to give you money and how it’s spent

  • Insults, shames you, or puts you down

  • Controls all aspects of your life, including what you do, what you wear, and where you go

  • Has unrealistic expectations, such as a partner has to be available at all times

  • Threatens to take away or hurt your children

  • Threatens to hurt or kill pets

  • Denies abuse is happening or downplays it as a problem

  • Plays mind games and places blame 

  • Destroys property

  • Forces you to use drugs or alcohol

  • Intimidates you with guns, knives, or other weapons

  • Shoves, slaps, chokes, and/or hits you

  • Forces sexual acts on you against your will

  • Threatens to commit suicide

What are some common signs of each type of abuse?

Any of these signs should alarm you that a relationship is abusive. A perpetrator does not need to use all of these actions to be an abuser—even one of these behaviors is a sign of domestic violence.

Physical abuse

  • Hitting you

  • Slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, and pulling hair

  • Choking you or trying to suffocate you

  • Stopping you from getting medical care

  • Using weapons

  • Forcing you to use alcohol or drugs

  • Driving dangerously while you are in the car

Sexual abuse

  • Holding you down during sex

  • Forcing you to have sex or making you do other sexual acts you don’t want to do

  • Forcing you to have sex after hurting you or when you are sick or tired

  • Calling you sexual names or forcing you to dress in a certain way

Emotional abuse

  • Name-calling or insulting you

  • Acting jealous and not trusting you

  • Humiliating you

  • Making you question your perception of reality within a relationship by using terms like “That never happened” or “It’s all in your head”

  • Cheating on you repeatedly and then blaming you for it

  • Damaging your relationships with your children

Economic abuse

  • Withholding access to your money

  • Refusing to let you go to work or school

  • Forcing you to mount up debt to hurt your credit

  • Refusing you to use money on necessities like food and medical care

  • Preventing you from viewing bank accounts

Psychological abuse 

  • Intimidating you

  • Isolating you from other people

  • Threatening to harm people you care about

Digital abuse

  • Controls your passwords

  • Searches your phone often, including texts and calls

  • Monitors you with any technology, such as a GPS

  • Insults you in social media status updates

  • Prevents you from deciding who can and cannot be your friends or followers on social media

*Above information from


Domestic violence spans gender, age, sexual orientation, and religion, and it affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 

  • In the U.S., over 1 in 3 women experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 1

  • In the U.S., about 1 in 3 men experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. 1

  • 10% of women and 2.2% of men report having been stalked by an intimate partner. 1

  • Data from US crime reports suggest that 16% (about 1 in 6) homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Nearly half of female homicide victims in the US are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. 2


1. Smith, S.G., Zhang, X., Basile, K.C., Merrick, M.T., Wang, J., Kresnow, M., Chen, J. (2018). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2015 Data Brief – Updated Release. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. Cooper, A., & Smith, E. L. (2011). Homicide trends in the United States, 1980–2008. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics. NCJ 236018. 6. Petrosky, E., Blair, J. M., Betz, C. J., Fowler, K. A., Jack, S., & Lyons, B. H. (2017). Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence - United States, 2003-2014. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly rep

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You are not alone.

There are resources available for you. 

National Child Abuse Hotline


National Domestic Violence Hotline


Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network


National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



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