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Domestic violence and abusive relationships can happen to anyone; they don’t discriminate. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—you may be in an abusive relationship.

If you have a partner who belittles you, threatens you, or tries to control you, you may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse. This can lead to feelings of self-loathing, low self-esteem, helplessness, and desperation.

Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence and abuse don’t necessarily involve physical violence. Power and control are at the heart of abuse and physical violence is only one aspect of the power and control that batterers exert over their partners. Perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse may use intimidation, threats to harm pets or children, finances, or insults to exert power and control over their partners and make them feel less-than. In a loving partnership, both partners are given equal say and power is not a factor.

Perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, also known as batterers, can be any gender or size. Many people may not realize it, but same-sex couples can experience domestic violence and women can perpetrate domestic violence against men. It doesn’t matter if the batterer is physically smaller than his or her partner– he or she can instill fear and humiliation in his or her partner regardless.


Acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident, or seem confident.

  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).

  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.



Becoming aware of the forms that abuse can take also helps you to be better prepared to recognise such behaviour as abusive. Once you are able to label abuse, you can begin to take steps necessary to stop it from happening or repeating. Types of abuse include:

  • Verbal

  • Psychological (also known as mental abuse or emotional abuse) – can be the most hurtful even though unseen; scars are internal rather than external.

  • Physical

  • Sexual

No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognise yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. I am here to help.

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