It’s crucial for everyone to know how to identify abusive relationships. You should know how to identify abuse in the relationships of your friends and family as well as your own. While some people may find it easy to spot abusive signs in other peoples’ relationships, they may struggle to notice abuse on their own. There are many types of abuse, and none of them are acceptable in any relationship.
Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, choking, or any other physical harm. Generally, physical abuse is the easiest type of abuse to identify as it typically leaves marks like bruises and cuts. However, some abuse victims go out of their way to hide these signs. Some common signs of physical abuse include:
- Physical symptoms, such as bruises.
- Defensive wounds, such as damaged fingernails or broken fingers from fighting against an attacker.
- Wearing baggy clothes or long sleeves in warm weather. This is a common way victims hide the evidence of abuse.
- Unexplained absences from social events, family gatherings, or work functions.
An abusive relationship can entail much more than physical abuse, however, and physical force is not a prerequisite of an abusive relationship. Some of the other ways an abusive partner may harm his or her significant other includes:
- Psychological abuse. This can include excessive ridicule, belittling, deception, or forcing a partner to go to excessive lengths to please the abusive partner. This can also include “gaslighting,” or forcing another person to question his or her sanity and logic using deception and manipulation.
- Sexual abuse. Being in a relationship does not entitle a person to the other partner’s physical affections. Sexual abuse can include rape, coercive sex, manipulating or forbidding birth control, or intentionally infecting a partner with a sexually transmitted disease.
- Financial abuse. An abusive partner may take over the other partner’s finances in order to keep the other partner fully dependent upon the abuser. This can also apply to stealing, or otherwise interfering with a partner’s personal finances.
Some abusive partners will erode their victim’s personal relationships with friends and family to isolate and control them. Abusive partners may also demand access to the other partner’s social media accounts so they can review his or her activity.
Are You in an Abusive Relationship?
While it can seem simple to identify abuse in other people’s relationships, you may have difficulty noticing abusive patterns in your own relationships. It’s human nature to want to think the best of a partner, and it’s never easy to end a relationship, but it’s vital to put your personal well-being ahead of any misplaced loyalty you may have toward an abusive partner. If a partner makes you feel afraid, ashamed, depressed, isolated, or helpless, there is a good chance you’re in an abusive relationship. It’s important to find help and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible before the abuse escalates.
If there are issues in your relationship but you don’t think you’ve encountered actual abuse, there are several steps you can take to assess the health of your relationship and what you can do to improve it. For example, couples’ counseling can help a couple overcome communication barriers or other obstacles that make the relationship difficult. If you notice a pattern of friends, family members, or coworkers asking about your personal welfare and your relationship, take this as a sign that something doesn’t seem right to them and they are asking out of genuine concern.
Everyone should have a firm list of “deal breakers” that would compel them to end a relationship, and abuse should absolutely be one of them. If a partner abuses you physically or in any other way, the best course of action is to seek help from your personal support system and remove yourself from the abusive relationship as soon as possible.