Signs & Symptoms of Abuse

Domestic Violence is defined as, “abusive behavior – emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual – that one person in an intimate relationship uses in order to control the other.” Many of you struggle with the fact that your relationship is not good, but you don’t call it abusive because he “never hit you.”

Physical violence is only one kind of abuse. Verbal, emotional, sexual, social and financial abuse are as painful and damaging as physical violence. You may be subjected to an unhealthy relationship and need help to be restored.

Physical violence can be both Direct and Indirect

Physical Abuse – Direct
  • Hits, slaps, punches or kicks
  • Shoves or chokes
  • Restrains you or keeps you from leaving
  • Rapes you or sexually controls you
  • Locks you out of the house or car
  • Abandons you in a dangerous place
  • Refuses to help you when you are sick, injured or pregnant
  • Subjects you to reckless behavior while driving or at home
  • Threatens to hurt you with a weapon
Physical Abuse – Indirect
  • Abuses your pets
  • Throws objects at you
  • Breaks furniture, belongings, personal effects
  • Forces you to break the law; shoplift, sell drugs or sell your body
  • Makes you submissive by threatening to go to the authorities or immigration
  • Withholds important personal papers, passport or immigration documents
  • Withholds medicine you require

Emotional Abuse: Verbal or Non-Verbal

Emotional Abuse – Verbal
  • Criticizes you alone or in public
  • Shouts at you
  • Humiliates you or pokes fun at you
  • Insults your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or social class
  • Speech, jokes, and stories are demeaning to women as a group
  • Threatens to leave you or says you will be leaving
  • Punishes children when you don’t comply
  • Threatens to kidnap children if you leave
  • Tells lies to manipulate you
  • Says you are the one that is crazy
  • Subjects you to violent mood swings, keeping you on an emotional roller coaster
  • Constantly criticizing what you do and how you do it
  • Calls you “stupid”, “incapable”, “inadequate”
  • Tells others and your children what a bad parent you are
  • Insults, put downs, or criticizes you in public
  • Complains about your physical appearance making you feel inadequate
  • Threatens to take you to court
Emotional Abuse – Non-Verbal
  • Using “the look” to scare you or to bring you into submission
  • Grits teeth or grimaces at you
  • Shake fists or fingers at you
  • Stands close or in an overbearing way
  • Blocks access to door or means of escape
  • Ignores you
  • Punishes by withholding approval, appreciation or affection
  • Withholds praise or good feelings from you
Emotional abuse can be one of the worst forms of abuse because as the victim, you do not often detect that you are being abused. Over a period of time you are emotionally “worn down” by your abuser, and once this type of treatment becomes the new “norm” you are less able to see how destructive it is.The abuser uses blame, criticism, intimidation and verbal harassment to destroy the victim’s sense of safety, self-esteem, and self-worth.

The abused becomes afraid, alone, embarrassed, helpless and guilty. Often the abuser lies and manipulates the truth, so the victim is confused with reality and has nowhere to turn. This form of abuse destroys the victim’s sense of individuality and personal value and increases the power of the abuse. Some victims have described that they have felt their life force was being “sucked up” or “drained away” by their abuser.“Emotional abuse can be compared with intentional brainwashing. Emotional abusers usually leave the victim confused, weak, depressed, angry, and numb with unclear thinking — and yet loyal to their abusers, hoping the abusive behavior will change…Emotional abuse can produce scars that will remain with you for years.”

Sexual Abuse

  • Harasses you about having an affair when you are not
  • Stalks you during your daily activities
  • Disrespects women in general, or other family members
  • Demands you dress in a way that you are not comfortable with
  • Does not care about your feelings toward sex
  • Criticizes you sexually either alone or in public
  • Forces you to perform sexual acts you are not comfortable with
  • Withholds sex and affection
  • Calls you sexual names like “whore” or “frigid” in private or public
  • Forces you to undress when you do not want to
  • Shows sexual interest in other women
  • Has affairs after agreeing to a monogamous relationship
  • Forces sex when you are sick or it is a danger to your health
  • Forces sex for the purpose of hurting you with objects or weapons
  • Commits sadistic sexual acts
  • Rapes you or coerces you sexually

Social Abuse

  • Restricts your ability to work or volunteer for social interaction
  • Limits contact with your family or friends
  • Harasses or punishes you for having friends, makes fun of them, interrogates when you are with them and often makes it so difficult that you end the relationship
  • Physically moving away from a familiar location or area where you have an established social network
  • Friends of abuser are chemically dependent
  • You feel like a prisoner
  • Not allowed to schedule your own time
  • Won’t let you socialize with others and/or won’t take you out
  • Does not allow you to take the car alone

Financial Abuse

  • Provides 100% of the income for the household and uses that fact to control, intimidate or manipulate
  • Restricts you from working
  • Refuses to work leaving finances strained and unbearable
  • Keeps the family in debt
  • Causes trouble for you at work which can lead to embarrassment or disciplinary action by your employer or even termination
  • Forces you to work at a job you dislike
  • Allows no control of money or resources
  • Any assets or access to money is controlled by abuser
  • When an incident occurs they take control or withdrawal all family money leaving you insecure or to make you struggle
  • All assets are in abusers name only
  • No independent access for money
  • You are kept pregnant and not allowed access to birth control when you have requested it
  • Abuser threatens you with divorce or that he will not let you get a divorce

Spiritual Abuse

  • You are kept from being able to worship as you desire.
  • You are forced, coerced or punished when you do not conform to specific spiritual practices.
  • You are threatened that you will not have the love of God or others because of your desire for religious freedom.
  • You are forced, coerced or threatened to agree to an act you believe is vulgar or illegal in the name of religion.
  • You are threatened with acts of discipline, injury or death to you or a loved one in the name of religion that you do not agree with.