It’s time to say eNOugh.

Signs of Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence refers to any aggressive, coercive, or controlling behavior which causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm to a current or former intimate partner. Abusive relationships are characterized by a pattern of power and control enacted by the abuser, but abuse doesn’t always look the same from relationship to relationship.

Here are some common forms of abuse and their possible warning signs:

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force with the desire or capacity to cause harm, injury, disability, or even death. This could manifest in a variety of ways, including but not limited to punching, kicking, scratching, choking, shaking, burning or branding, use of a hard object, or use of a deadly weapon. A victim may begin to avoid social events, attempt to hide their body under clothing, act timid and submissive when they are with their partner, staunchly defend their partner’s behavior, or claim that the problems in the relationship are always their own fault. These are just a few examples, and not an exhaustive list of the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

Sexual abuse is any attempted or completed act of unwanted sexual contact including rape, forced penetration, sexual coercion, being forced to perform certain sexual acts that are outside one’s desired boundaries, and any other unwanted sexual contact. Sexual violence can manifest as reproductive violence, including sabotaging a partner’s chosen form of birth control.

Psychological abuse is a manner of controlling and terrorizing one’s partner. It is exemplified through any verbal or nonverbal means of communication with the intent to harm their intimate partner mentally or emotionally, and to exert control over their emotions and behaviors. This can be demonstrated through humiliation, isolation, threats of violence, ‘gaslighting’, possessiveness, jealousy, intimidation, dishonesty, codependence, and disrespect. In addition, control of finances, appearance, and social activity are also signs of abuse.

Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking can be violent or nonviolent, and often escalates over time. Stalking can happen in person and online via various forms of technology and social media.

Although it is often difficult to identify symptoms of an abusive relationship in a friend or family member, it might be even harder to admit to experiencing abuse in one’s own life. If you have any questions or concerns about these forms of violence, consider reaching out to your local agency at a time and in a way that feels safe to you. There is HELP, and there is HOPE.