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What Are the Warning Signs of Domestic Violence?


Healthy relationships are about love and respect, but abusive relationships are about power and control. As such, tactics used to gain power and control are the warning signs of domestic violence.

These tactics may include:

  • Dishonesty – lying or hiding information from you
  • Criticism – telling you that you never do anything right
  • Disrespect – making fun of you or talking about you behind your back
  • Dependence – saying they “can’t live without you” or threatening to do something drastic if you leave
  • Jealousy – of your friends and any time you spend away from your partner
  • Digital monitoring – using your social media to keep tabs on you and demanding quick responses to texts and phone calls
  • Isolation – preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, and peers
  • Control – preventing you from making your own decisions or controlling your finances
  • Hostility – picking fights and making you feel like you are “walking on eggshells”
  • Pressure – to have sex, perform sex acts you are not comfortable with, or use drugs and alcohol
  • Insults – diminishing your self-esteem by insulting, demeaning, or shaming you (especially in front of other people)
  • Intimidation – threatening looks or actions
  • Threats – with weapons or threatening to harm you (or your children or pets)
  • Violence – destroying your belongings or your home, pushing, hitting, biting, scratching, throwing things, etc. (includes sexual violence)

Generally, the warning signs of domestic violence appear gradually and get more intense as the relationship grows. Someone may seem like an ideal partner at first, then become abusive later in the relationship.

Remember that experiencing domestic violence is never your fault and prioritizing your safety does not mean you do not love and care for your partner.

If you need help leaving, talk to a trusted friend or family member and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Do not hesitate to call 911 in emergencies or if you are in immediate danger.

Arnold Law Group, APC can help you get a protective order if necessary. If you need help leaving an abusive marriage, we can help you with your divorce, and if you have children, we can protect them by helping you get full custody, as well.

How Can You Tell If Someone Is Being Abused?

Recognizing domestic violence is not always easy for friends and family members. If you are worried about your loved one, however, there are some signs you can watch out for.

Physical signs of domestic abuse are usually obvious and include black eyes, split lips, bruises on the arms, sprained wrists, and red and purple marks on the neck. The victim may try to hide their injuries by wearing scarves or long sleeves (even in hot weather), keeping their sunglasses on indoors, or wearing more makeup than usual.

Before you notice physical warning signs, you might notice some emotional changes in your friend or family member, including:

  • Acting differently when their partner is around
  • Canceling plans with you and other loved ones
  • Becoming reserved or distant
  • Being excessively private about their relationship
  • A constant state of agitation, anxiety, or apprehension
  • Sleeping or eating more or less than normal
  • Developing a drug or alcohol problem
  • Seeming extremely apologetic, meek, or fearful
  • Losing interest in daily activities
  • Having lower than usual self-esteem

Although these signs can point to an abusive relationship, they can also point to other mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. In any case, you should talk to your friend or family member if they are exhibiting these behaviors.

You can also keep an eye on the suspected abuser’s behavior. For example, if your friend is constantly fielding text messages and phone calls from their partner when they are out with you, that’s a red flag.

You may also notice insults and other problems when your friend and their partner interact.

Your friend may refer to their partner as “moody,” jealous, or bad-tempered, as well.

How to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence

If you think your loved one might be a victim of domestic violence, make time to talk to them in a calm and private environment. Start the conversation gently by asking questions about your friend or family member’s wellbeing, then express your concerns without judgment.

Know that your loved one might not be ready to talk about their relationship and let them know that you are available to talk anytime. If they choose to open up, listen without judgment, and offer specific support, such as telephone numbers and referrals to therapists, lawyers, and other professionals.

If your friend or family member is open to it, you can also help them create a safety plan to leave home and get help if their partner becomes violent (again).

Always get the police involved if you know that violence is actively occurring, or you see or hear physical abuse take place. Your loved one might be upset with you at first, but your intervention could save their life.

Use Us as a Resource

Arnold Law Group, APC is always available to help the victims of domestic violence create an exit plan for themselves and their children. We can guide you or your loved one through the legal process and help the victim get a protective order.

Call us at (559) 439-0900 or pass our number onto your loved one. For more discretion, you can also send us a message online.

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