Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Survivors often return to abusive relationships because they can’t support themselves and their children. It may seem safer than facing a life of grinding poverty."

You might not get to see first hand how your friends and their partners interact behind closed doors. But there are some things to look out for if you suspect a friend might be in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence comes in a variety of forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse. Here are some warning signs of an abusive relationship that you can look out for with your friends. If you see some of these warning signs with your friends, we have some tips to help you start a conversation about it. If you think your friend is in danger, or you want more resources to bring to your friend, help is available 24 hours a day from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
People who are being abused may:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does.
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they're doing.
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
  • Talk about their partner's temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.

People who are being physically abused may:

  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of "accidents."
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).

People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

Be restricted from seeing family and friends.

  • Rarely go out in public without their partner.
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.

People who are being emotionally abused may:

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.

People who are being financially abused may:

  • Have limited access to money or credit cards.
  • Have their spending tightly monitored and restricted by their partner.
  • Worry excessively about how their partner will react to what are commonly thought of as simple, everyday purchases.