Signs of Abuse

Everyone gets angry, but some people take their anger too far and act in abusive and violent ways. Determining whether someone has an assaulting personality or if you are in an abusive relationship depends upon a variety of signs, circumstances and behaviors – some of which can often be difficult to discern.

Assaulting Personality

While physical abuse of any kind certainly points to an assaulting personality, there are other signs which may suggest it as well. Answer the following questions about your partner’s “non-physically violent” behavioral tendencies to determine whether he or she might have an assaulting personality:

  • Does your partner sexually abuse you?
    Signs include forcing you to engage in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity.
  • Does your partner try to control you?
    Signs include needing to know where you are at all times, insisting on making important decisions for you and having you “ask permission” to go places or make your own decisions.
  • Is your partner often jealous?
    Signs include being resentful for time you spend with friends, family and others which does not include them, being overly possessive and questioning you about who you associate with at work or in social settings.
  • Does your partner blame others – or you – for their problems?
    Signs include blaming others – and you – for anything that goes wrong in their life such as, “I quit because the boss was out to get me,” “You forgot to remind me to do that” or “I could have succeeded at this if you’d only been more supportive.”
  • Is your partner overly sensitive?
    Signs include being easily insulted, feeling that common everyday occurrences are personal injustices or treating simply disagreements as personal attacks.
  • Does your partner verbally abuse you?
    Signs include degrading you (either alone or in front of others), belittling your accomplishments or telling you that you couldn’t function on your own without them.

There are several hallmark characteristics of behavior in an abusive partner. Read our list of those signs of violent behavior.

Are You in an Abusive Relationship?

“Abusive” relationships are often difficult to conclusively define. While some abusers are physically violent or verbally abusive; others are less so. While physical violence should never be tolerated, verbal abuse is often tolerated for much longer than it should be. In fact, many victims of domestic violence don’t consider verbal abuse as abuse at all – they’ll say that their partner is just having a bad day, has a bit of a bad temper or is just too stressed out. The bottom line is that any type of violent behavior is abuse and, once a pattern develops, it’s usually an indication of a much bigger problem.

It’s important for victims to pay special attention to their own behavior in these types of situations. Many domestic violence survivors have reported that their abusive situation “ended” because they became passive and stopped expressing themselves freely or making their own decisions. However, giving the abuser control – and losing yourself in the process – is not a solution to the problem.

There are many domestic violence support programs in the state. We provide a list of these programs by county. The North Carolina Victim Assistance Network is also a resource for support.

How to Safely Leave an Abusive Relationship?

The most dangerous time for domestic violence is when someone decides to leave an abusive relationship while their abuser is present or nearby. So if you decide to leave, do so safely, smartly and quickly by:

  • Reach Out.
    Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or your local domestic violence shelter (link to Section II, 4). Most shelters can provide you with information on how to leave safely – as well as counseling and legal services.
  • Collect Important Documents.
    Collect important documents (or copies of important documents) and keep them in a safe place so that you have access to them when needed. These might include a marriage certificate, driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, credit cards, etc. If you have children, consider collecting their Social Security cards, school records, immunization records, passports and birth certificates).
  • Think It Through.
    Think through what you might need if you left. In addition to important documents, you might want to have some cash on hand, a list of important phone numbers, an extra car or house key, a list of credit card numbers and customer service numbers and a cell phone.
  • Have a Safety Plan.
    It is essential to think through all of the details of how best to leave an abusive relationship in advance. Develop your plan to safely leave step by step.

It’s also important to know who can rely upon for moral support. Write down phone numbers, addresses and emails for anyone you think can help you. If you don’t have anyone you can rely upon – and even if you do – consider seeing a therapist who understands what you’re going through and can provide additional resources to help you.

Leaving an abusive relationship is never easy. However, it’s important to understand that domestic violence generally escalates over time and that leaving is always an option and that help is available.

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