On this page:

  • Child Abuse Indicators
  • Quiz
  • 10 Telling Signs You're Trapped
  • 23 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
  • Is Someone You Know Being Abused?
  • Myth or Fact

Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, also leave deep, lasting scars. The earlier abused children get help, the greater chance they have to heal and break the cycle—rather than perpetuate it. By learning about common signs of abuse and what you can do to intervene, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Read more:


Quiz, Myth or Facts, 10 Signs?

If you think you may be a victim of domestic violence, take the following quiz. 


This page contains a lot of warning signs and situations to make you aware of domestic violence abuse.

Does Your Partner:

Embarrass you with bad names and put downs?

Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?

Stop you from seeing or talking to friends or family?

Take your money or Social Security, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?

Make all the decisions?

Look at you in ways that scare you?

Tell you you're a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?

Act like the abuse is no big deal, it 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 or hit you?

Force you to drop charges?

Threaten to commit suicide?

Force you to drop charges?



If you checked even one, you may be in an abusive relationship. If you need more information, contact us.  If you do these things to your partner you should seek help by contacting us.

10 Telling Signs You’re Trapped in an Abusive Relationship

By: Emily Lockhart

The thing that hurts most about an abusive relationship is realizing that you were tricked into it. Most abusive relationships don’t start out with a black eye. Commonly, they begin just like any other relationship or may seem too good to be true, but slowly, your partner may begin to subtly blame you for things beyond your control or pick at your faults. This may slowly evolve into full blown verbal or physical abuse.

The trauma suffered in an abusive relationship gradually ramps up. It slowly drains you of self worth and alienates your support system, leaving you feeling trapped and miserable before you even realize the signs.

Regardless of if you suffer from emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, it can be difficult to comprehend that someone you love, and who claims to love you, could victimize you. And sometimes, your partner may not even realize what they’re doing is wrong.

Here are ten sneaky signs that you’re trapped in an abusive relationship…


1. Humiliation

Humiliation as a form of abuse may start out with subtle jabs or insults in private and then become full blown yelling and embarrassment in public before you even realize it. It doesn’t take much for an abuser to get angry for the smallest of reason and convince you that you’re the guilty party. This type of humiliation is meant to make you submissive and to control you in front of others if they know that they’re public outbursts will make you subservient to their wants and needs.


2. Verbal Insults

You or your partner may lose your cool in an argument, but that never excuses name calling or foul language. Verbal abuse can range from insulting your looks, your intelligence, or your worth and it doesn’t always include foul language. The main purpose of verbal abuse is to wear down your self esteem so that you’re compliant and reliant on your partner—and no one else.


3. Physical Violence

Physical abuse almost never starts with a busted lip. Abusers typically begin subtly with an intimidating stance, a hand raised, a grab at your arm, or a quick slap to get your attention. This almost always graduates to harsher physical slaps, chokes, grabs, or even punches if you let the previous abuse slide.  Abusers know that it takes time to breaking their spouse or partner down so they think they deserve the abuse.


4. Controlling Behavior

The controlling abuser aims to alienate you from everyone else in your life other than them. That way, your friends or family won’t recognize the signs of abuse or come to your aid. Most abusers want you to be totally dependent on them and no one else. At first this may appear that your partner is just really invested in your life and your decisions, but it will slowly spiral into them being in total control.


5. Unpredictable Mood Swings

The mood swings of an abusive individual can be staggering. For instance, they can go from pleasant and romantic to total rage in a matter of seconds.  This extremely unpredictable behavior is almost only aimed at a submissive partner who they know won’t challenge them.


6. Picking at Faults

Does your partner treat you like a child? Most abusers who use verbal abuse as their prime tool will treat you like a misbehaved child, yelling and disciplining you as they demean and point out your every fault. However, if you try to correct them, get ready for a seriously defensive and angry backlash.


7. Alienating Your Friends and Family

An abuser knows that they won’t get away with mistreating you if you have supportive friends and family in the picture to challenge their behavior. That’s why they will slowly try to convince you that others don’t appreciate you or value your relationship. Soon you will lose all sense of yourself and only have them for support. What better way to control your every behavior, right?


8. Placement of Blame

You can bet if you choose to stay with an abusive partner that you’ll be blamed for everything that goes wrong in their lives. An abusive lover will never accept personal blame for anything. They are masters at turning things around on their spouses so they never assume any guilt.


9. Manipulation

Abusers are skilled at manipulation—so much so that they actually convince their partners that their physical or verbal outbursts are the result of misbehavior on your part. The aim is to make you doubt yourself and your self worth as a good person. That’s why most victims of abuse continue to excuse or forgive their partner’s cruel behavior.


10. Calculated Outbursts

Doesn’t it seem strange to you that your partner only demeans you, yells at you, or hits you in private? They will try to convince you that they have no control over their violet or verbally abusive tirades, but ask yourself why they never lose their cool in front of others or in public.





23 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship 
(interpreted from the list at www.health-first.org)

Physical or sexual violence may occur without warning. Sometimes, however, there may be signs or "red flags" that serve as warnings that the relationship is abusive. The following are examples of a person's behavior or personality that may be that warning. If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you may be at risk – please call 937-498-7261 to speak with a domestic violence advocate.

  • Does your partner tease you in a hurtful way & play it off as a “joke” or tell you you’re being too sensitive?
  • Does your partner call you names such as "stupid" or "bitch"?
  • Does your partner act jealous of your friends, family, or co-workers or coerce you into avoiding or not spending time with them?
  • Does your partner get angry about or make you change the clothes & shoes you wear, how you style your hair, or whether or not you wear makeup & how much?
  • Does your partner check-up on you by repeatedly calling, driving by, or getting someone else to?
  • Has your partner gone places with you or sent someone just to "keep an eye on you"?
  • Does your partner insist on knowing who you talk with on the phone, check your call log or phone bill?
  • Does your partner blame you for his problems or his bad mood?
  • Does your partner get angry so easily that you feel like you're "walking on eggshells"?
  • Does your partner hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things to scare you?
  • Does your partner often drink or use drugs?
  • Does your partner insist that you drink or use drugs with him?
  • Have you lost friends or no longer see some of your family because of your partner?
  • Does your partner accuse you of being interested in someone else or cheating on them?
  • Does your partner read your e/mail, check your computer history, go through your purse, or other personal papers?
  • Does your partner keep money from you, keep you in debt, or have "money secrets?"
  • Has your partner kept you from getting a job, or caused you to lose a job?
  • Has your partner sold your car, made you give up your license, or not repaired your car?
  • Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your children, family, friends, or pets?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex when you do not want to?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex in ways that you do not want to?
  • Does your partner threaten to kill you or themselves if you leave?
  • Is your partner like "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," acting one way in front of other people and another way when you are alone?

Our experience tells us that even if you only said yes to one or two, that these behaviors tend to multiply and get worse over time. Please call us to see if the situation you’re in is safe and what you can do to make it more so.


Is Someone

You Know

Being Abused?

There is no way to tell for sure if someone is experiencing domestic violence. Those who are battered, and those who abuse, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, economic classes and personality types. Victims are not always passive with low self-esteem, and batterers are not always violent or hateful to their partner in front of others. Most people experiencing relationship violence do not tell others what goes on at home. So how do you tell? Look for the signs:

Injuries and Excuses:

In some cases, bruises and injuries may occur frequently and be in obvious places. When this happens, the intent of the batterer is to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home. When black eyes and other bruising is a result of domestic violence, the person being battered may be forced to call in sick to work, or face the embarrassment and excuses of how the injuries occurred. When there are frequent injuries seen by others, the victim may talk about being clumsy, or have elaborate stories of how the injuries occurred. In other cases, bruises and other outward injuries may be inflicted in places where the injuries won't show. This too is a tactic used by an abuser to keep a victim from reaching out or from having the violence exposed.

Absences from Work or School:

When severe beatings or other trauma related to violence occurs, the victim may take time off from their normal schedule. If you see this happening, or the person is frequently late, this could be a sign of something (such as relationship violence) occurring.

Low Self-Esteem:

Some victims have low self-esteem, while others have a great deal of confidence and esteem in other areas of their life (at work, as a parent, with hobbies, etc.) but not within their relationship. In terms of dealing with the relationship, a sense of powerlessness may exist. A victim may believe that they could not make it on their own or that they are somehow better off with the abuser as part of their life.

Personality Changes:

People may notice that a very outgoing person, for instance, becoming quiet and shy around their partner over time. This happens because the one being battered "walks on egg shells" when in the presence of the one who is abusive. Accusations (of flirting, talking too loudly, or telling the wrong story to someone) have taught the abused person that it is easier to act a certain way around the batterer than to experience additional accusations in the future.

Fear of Conflict:

As a result of being battered, some victims may generalize the experience of powerlessness with other relationships. Conflicts with co-workers, friends, relatives, and neighbors can create a lot of anxiety. For many, it is easier to give in to whatever someone else wants than to challenge it. Asserting needs and desires begins to feel like a battle, and not worth the risks of losing. Victims may also exhibit overly-friendly behavior, particularly to those that they percieve as being in a position of power (like the abuser's inlaws, a boss or a supervisor at work, or even to advocates if a victim seeking help from a domestic violence program. This can manifest as everything from sending cards to only very casual acquaintences to making dinner or providing over-indulgent attention.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior:

For adults or children who have experienced violence from a loved one, the ability to identify feelings and wants, and to express them, may not exist. This could result in passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than telling others what they want, they say one thing but then express anger or frustration in an aggressive manner (such as burning dinner, or not completing a report on time for their boss).


You may notice someone taking all of the blame for things that go wrong. A co-worker may share a story about something that happened at home and then take all of the blame for whatever occurred. If you notice this happening a lot, it may be a sign that this person is being battered or experiencing emotional abuse.

Isolation and Control:

In general, adults who are abused physically are often isolated. Their partners tend to control their lives to a great extent as well as verbally degrade them. This isolation is intended to make the abuser the center of the victim's universe, as well as to purposefully limit the victim's access to others who might attempt to help the victim escape. You might notice that someone: has limited access to the telephone, frequently makes excuses as to why they can't see you or they insist that their partner has to come along, doesn't seem to be able to make decisions about spending money, isn't allowed to drive, go to school or get a job; or has a noteable change in self-esteem which might include inability to make eye contact or looking away or at the ground when talking.

Stress-Related Problems:

These often manifest as poor sleep, sleeping at strange times (also a sign of depression), experiencing non-specific aches or pains that are either constant and/or recurring, stomach problems, chronic headaches, and flare up of problems made worse by stress such as excema.

State whether you think the following 12 statement is a myth or if you think it is a fact.  After taking the quiz, check the correct answers below.
1. Domestic violence usually only happens in married adult couples.


2. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes push each other around when they get angry, but it rarely results in anyone getting seriously hurt.


3. While females can be abusive and abuse happens in same-sex couples too, it is much more common for males to abuse their female partners.


4. If a mother is abused by her children's father; the children are also likely to be abused.


5. Most people will end a relationship if their boyfriend or girlfriend hits them.


6. People abuse their partners because they can't control their anger.


7. Most men who abuse their partners grew up in violent homes.


8. If a person is really being abused, it's easy to just leave.


9. Most rapes are committed by strangers who attack women at night on the streets.


10. A pregnant woman is at an even greater risk of physical abuse.


11. Relationship abuse happens most often among Blacks and Hispanics.


12. People who are abused often blame themselves for their abuse.

1. MYTH - The fact is that a many as one-third of all high school and college-age young people experience violence in an intimate or dating relationship.  (Levy, B., Dating Violence: Young Women in Danger, The Seal Press, Seattle, WA, 1990.)   Physical abuse is as common among high school and college-age couples as married couples.  (Jezel, Molidor, and Wright and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Teen Dating Violence Resource Manual, NCADV, Denver, CO, 1996.)

2. MYTH - The fact is that Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 - 44 in the U.S. -more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.  (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991.) Of the women murdered each year in the U.S., 30% are killed by their current or former husband or boyfriend.  (Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 1995.)

3. FACT - About 95% of know victims of relationship violence are females abused by their male partners.  (Straus, M.A., and Gelles, R.J. (eds), Physical Violence in American Families, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ. 1990.)

4. FACT - 50% of men who frequently abuse their wives also frequently abuse their children. (Stacy, W. and Schupe, A., The Family Secret, Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1983.)  A child who lives in a family where there is violence between parents is 15 times more likely to be abused.  (L. Bergman, "Dating violence among high school students," Social Work 37 (1), 1992.)

5. MYTH - The fact is that nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser after the onset of violence.  (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991.)

6. MYTH - The fact is that People who abuse are usually not out of control, they do it to gain power and control over the other person.  They often use a series of tactics besides violence including threats, intimidation, psychological abuse and isolation to control their partners.  (Straus, M.A., Gelles R.J. & Steinmetz, S., Behind Closed Doors, Anchor Books, NY, 1980.)

7. FACT - Men who have witnessed violence between parents are three times more likely to abuse their own wives and children than children of non-violent parents.  The sons of the most violent parents are 1000 times more likely to become batterers.  (Barbara Hart, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1988.)

8. MYTH - There are many very complicated reasons why it's difficult for a person to leave an abusive partner.  One very common reason is fear - women who leave abusers are at a 75% greater chance of being killed by the abuser than those who stay.  (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995.)

9. MYTH - About 80% of rapes and sexual assaults are committed by a partner, friend or acquaintance of the victim.  (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics' National Crime Victimization Survey, 1995.)

10. FACT - Pregnant women are especially at risk for abuse.  It is estimated that more than one-third of pregnant women are abused.  (Berry, Dawn Bradley, The Domestic Violence Sourcebook, Lowell House, Los Angeles, 1996.)  It is common for physical abuse to begin or escalate during pregnancy.

11. MYTH - Women of all races are equally likely to be abused by a partner.  (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Violence by Intimates, March 1998.)

12. FACT - Most people who are abused blame themselves for causing the violence.  (Barnett, Martinex, Keyson, "The relationship between violence, social support, and self-blame n battered women," Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1996)  However, the fact is that NO ONE is ever to blame for another person's violence - violence is always a choice, and the responsibility is 100% with the person who is violent.


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