5 Signs Of Domestic Abuse And What To Do

Abuse constitutes actions or threats, be it physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological behaviors that harm a person.

Domestic abuse specifically, also known as domestic violence or intimate partner violence, is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner in a relationship. These include any behaviors that are frightening, intimidating, terrorizing, manipulative, hurtful, or traumatic to a person. They also involve the acts of humiliating, blaming, and injuring a person.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse despite their age, gender, race, faith, sexual orientation, or class. This kind of abuse can be carried out in various forms, such as mental, physical, economical, or sexual types, and they could be fatal if not addressed.

In this article, we will discuss the signs of domestic abuse to watch out for and what to do in case you are dealing with or witnessing abuse. You can also click here to get legal insights into how you can resolve domestic violence issues.

Forms of Domestic abuse/violence

Young couple having a quarrel and shouting at each other

1. Physical abuse

Physical abuse is defined as contact with the intent to create fear, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse is used to exert control over the victim. Physical abuse can be the result of other abusive behaviors such as threats, intimidation, and limiting victim self-determination through isolation, manipulation, and other restrictions on personal freedom.

2. Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse, according to the WHO, is any sexual act, intention to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality using compulsion. Sexual abuse happens when a person is verbally pressed into consenting, is unable to comprehend the purpose or condition of the act, is unable to deny participation, or is unable to voice an unwillingness to engage in the sexual act.

3. Emotional abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is defined as a pattern of behavior that threatens, intimidates, dehumanizes, or systematically destroys one’s own worth. Minimization, threats, isolation, public humiliation, continuous criticism, constant personal devaluation, coercive control, stonewalling, and gaslighting are all examples of emotional abuse.

4. Economic abuse

When one intimate partner has control over the other partner’s access to money resources, it is called economic abuse or financial abuse. If a partner is prohibited from obtaining resources, has access to resources restricted, or experiences abuse in other ways, that spouse may be a victim of economic abuse. Economic abuse reduces a victim’s ability to support themselves and increases their reliance on the abuser.

5. Spiritual abuse

Having your own thoughts about religion, culture, and morals is prohibited by spiritual domestic violence. It could also involve making you question your spiritual beliefs in an effort to make you feel helpless. People are being prevented from expressing their cultural or religious convictions.

Signs Of Domestic Abuse

1. Insistence To Accompany a Person Everywhere

The abuser would want to be around someone all the time. This is not because they want to show that they love this person so much that they just want to spend time with them. They are doing it to establish power and dominance.

Once they have achieved this, they succeed in separating their partner from their loved ones. This is evident when the victim is not allowed to leave home or do some activities on their own, like going out to shop or to meet family and friends.

2. Frequent Use of Gaslighting Tactics

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where the abuser makes a person question their own reality. In other words, the abuser could humiliate their partner and then accuse them of being overly sensitive when their partner reacts to that behavior.

As a result, the victim questions their reactions or feelings. They are made to believe that they are mentally unfit and overreactive and that they have to depend on the abuser.

3. Use of Love Bombing to Resolve Emotional Attacks

When a person is emotionally attacked, it means that they are constantly judged, criticized, and treated as though they are worthless. In this case, the abuser tries to make up for the emotional attacks by love bombing. This action involves apologizing, giving compliments, offering gifts, and promising to never repeat the abusive behavior.

As the pattern of emotionally attacking and following up with love bombing develops, the person is gradually trapped. The only way out is to find supportive ways to break free from the relationship.

4. Eagerness To Please The Abuser

Usually, a person experiencing domestic abuse feels the need to agree with compliments or praise in order to minimize the abuse. They even go so far as to make excuses for the abuser, hoping they will be spared from the abuse.

To illustrate, the victim might want to inquire first from their abuser before making any decision, however small it may be. They also have to seek permission before responding to any questions in the presence of other people.

5. Break-Ups And Make-Ups

Another sign is when a person opts to leave the abusive relationship, but the abuser does not allow them.  The abuser will threaten self-harm so that their partner does not leave.

However, there are instances when the victim chooses to stay in the relationship for fear that they may not find a place to stay. They also worry about the well-being of their children and dread becoming financially insecure.

What To Do When Dealing with Domestic Abuse

Woman calling domestic violence hotline to prevent aggression up

Acknowledge That It Is Not Your Fault

People who are abused undermine their situation and tend to think that it is normal. Some even think that it is their fault, so they should face the consequences. However, this is not the case at all. The fault lies in the abuser, so stop blaming yourself.

Do Not Give Excuses

The fact that someone became abusive once does not mean that they will not do it again. This person lost control of themselves and engaged in abuse. It is, therefore, not clear when they will do it again. Therefore, you’ll have to report the incident immediately when the abuse happens.

Talk To Someone

It is advisable to talk to someone you can trust about the abuse. This could be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or even a neighbor. This will give clarity and the ability to act on the situation. However, beware of bad advice, like being convinced that it is okay to go through the abuse.

Call a Domestic Abuse Helpline

Get advice and remedies from professionals through the helpline. In case there are no helplines where you are, consult with healthcare professionals, like doctors.

Purple ribbon against the violence against women

Go to a shelter

Try to go to a place where you can find temporary housing is a shelter or sanctuary. They will assist you in developing a strategy for longer-term housing. In addition, refuges typically offer other services like adequate security, legal counsel, emotional support, and practical assistance like food and clothing. So, if you have no where to go, consider this option. 

Recognize your worth

Maintaining your self-worth or self-confidence might be challenging if someone is hurting you or threatening to do so. The best course of action in this circumstance is to seek assistance in order to help you map out a route to safety.

Get support

It can be difficult and frightening to decide to leave a circumstance where you feel unsafe. Talk to a trusted person, like a friend, a counselor, or a youth worker, if that’s possible. Support is very crucial in this kind of situation. Remember that you are not alone in this battle.


Freedom from domestic abuse is a personal choice. You have to recognize the harm the abuse causes you in order to get out of it. It is also your call to take immediate action. Taking action will lead to a better society where such ills like domestic abuse have been normalized and are more common.