Sometimes the hardest part about getting help when you’re with an abuser is recognizing that you’re with one to begin with. “Many survivors don’t realize they’re in an abusive situation. Domestic violence is not just physical or sexual abuse— it’s any form of power and control,” says Yvette Lozano, director of intervention and emergency services with the nonprofit Peace Over Violence.
Amy Thomson told DomesticShelters.org in her survivor story that she initially wrote off her boyfriend’s unexpected outbursts of anger early in their relationship. “We all have those days,” she says. But over the course of their six-year relationship, things escalated, and Thomson narrowly escaped with her life.
Survivor Jennifer told a similar story—her boyfriend at 17 came from a troubled background. He abused alcohol and snapped angrily at everyone. He put Jennifer down every chance he could. She talked herself out of it and married him anyway. Her abuser ended up breaking her cheekbone in an argument.
Watch for These Signs
While abuse is never a survivor’s fault, having the foresight to spot warning signs before one’s life is in danger can be an invaluable skill. Some of it comes from listening to your gut, while other signs are more visibly apparent. The following signs can indicate domestic violence:
Additionally, physical violence is a clear indicator of an abusive partner. According to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, an abusive partner may also…
When You Spot These In Someone Else’s Partner
What do you do if you recognize any of these signs in a loved one’s partner? The most important thing to do is not tell the victim what to do, says Lozano. “By telling them what to do, we’re transferring that power to ourselves. We need to build back up their self-esteem.” Instead, offer up information to the victim about resources that are available to help them. Many victims feel like they’re the only ones going through an abusive relationship, and that there’s nowhere to turn, says Lozano. Give them information about shelters, counseling services and advocate agencies that can help them escape.