Domestic abuse is never okay. And yet, it’s a major problem across the U.S. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. every minute (over 10 million women and men per year).
Unfortunately, some signs of domestic abuse are less obvious than others, and often, domestic abuse victims are hesitant to seek help. So it can be hard to know whether someone is being abused at home or not.
However, there are some common signs of domestic abuse you can look for. In this article, we’ll go over what they are so you can better offer help to those in need. After all, domestic abuse could happen to anybody, including your family members and friends.
Table of Contents
Physical signs of domestic abuse
The physical signs of domestic abuse can often be the most obvious (though not always). If you notice someone has black eyes, bruises, busted lips, red or purple marks on their neck, or sprained wrists, then they might be a victim of domestic abuse.
This is especially true if the person struggles to explain their injuries or offers explanations for them that are hard to believe.
It’s also common for victims to try to cover their injuries with makeup, clothing, or sunglasses. So if they are wearing an excessive amount of clothing or more than what the weather calls for, this could be a sign that they are trying to cover up their injuries.
Emotional signs of domestic abuse
Domestic abuse is never just physical. It’s also emotional. As a result, victims may develop feelings of hopelessness, despair, worthlessness, and fear.
Some other common emotional signs of domestic abuse include anxiety, changes in sleeping habits, low self-esteem, substance abuse, depression, loss of interest in daily activities, suicidal thoughts, and excessive apologies.
Of course, these could also be symptoms of a mental or emotional illness. However, they are commonly tied to domestic abuse, so you should watch out for them.
Behavioral signs of domestic abuse
Signs of domestic abuse can also show up in a victim’s behavior. For example, if the person was once outgoing and cheerful but is now quiet and withdrawn, this could indicate they are suffering domestic abuse.
Other behaviors you should look out for include victims isolating themselves and cutting themselves off from family and friends, canceling meetings at the last minute or not showing up at all, and being overly private, distant, or reserved.
In some cases, victims of domestic abuse are so paralyzed by fear of their abuser that they avoid accepting help and are unable to protect themselves and their families.
Controlling behavior exhibited by perpetrators
You should also notice any controlling behavior exhibited by the suspected abuser. After all, domestic abuse is all about control. Here are some red flags to watch for:
The suspected perpetrator may be overly critical of the victim, accuse them of having an affair, blame them for anything negative that happens, yell often, or punch and throw things out of anger.
In addition, a perpetrator might control the victim’s finances by not letting them use money, stealing from them, or keeping cash and credit cards away from them.
How to help victims of domestic abuse
To help victims of domestic abuse, tell them that you are concerned about them. If they confide in you, listen to them without judgment and validate their feelings. Then help them make a safety plan for how to escape a dangerous situation or even leave their partner. Most importantly, point them to where they can get professional help (e.g. the National Domestic Violence Hotline and a family law lawyer).
Helping someone escape domestic abuse is often a delicate process. So be sensitive to the victim’s needs and support them in whatever way you can.
Lastly, if you fear your partner and think you’re a victim of domestic abuse yourself, there’s help. Contact the domestic abuse hotline listed above. Nobody deserves any type of domestic abuse for any reason.