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Signs of Abuse
The only way we can stop the cycle of domestic violence, is to come together and end the silence.

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Warning Signs of Abuse and Domestic Violence

Anyone may find themselves in an abusive relationship. It has nothing to do with age, financial status, religion or race. It can happen within both heterosexual and same-sex partnerships. The vast majority of those abused are women but men can also find themselves in an abusive relationship. 

What are the signs that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship? It may be easy to identify signs of physical abuse, but it is far more difficult to recognise that a person dropping out of activities or isolating themselves may also be a sign of abuse in a relationship. 

Abusive behaviour is when one party in a relationship attempts to control and dominate the other. This includes emotional and psychological abuse and can include, or escalate to, physical abuse, which is then termed domestic violence.

Emotional or psychological abuse includes your partner – or abuser – doing the following:

  • Keeping track of your movements
  • Preventing you from seeing friends or family
  • Showing anger, jealousy and possessiveness by, for example, accusing you of having affairs or flirting
  • Constantly humiliating, demeaning or insulting you
  • Controlling you by, for example, deciding what you wear, or who you see 
  • Preventing you from working or having control over your own finances

An abusive partner is often unpredictable – you don’t know when they will lose their temper or suddenly change their mood. They may blame you by saying it is your fault that they are abusive, and that you don't support them enough.

Emotional and psychological abuse can lead to depression and low self-worth, and very often spirals into acts of violence.

Physical abuse is not only slapping, punching or throwing things. It can also include:

  • Locking a partner out of the home,  or placing them in dangerous situations
  • Refusing to help a partner when they are injured, sick or pregnant
  • Threatening to kill their partner, or themselves

It is not easy to spot the signs of an abusive relationship because both the abuser and the abused often keep their relationship hidden. The abuser frequently has two distinct personalities – one public and the other private. The abuser also uses threats, coercion, and manipulation to ensure the victim keeps the abuse secret.

However, these are some abusive relationship signs:

  • Unusual changes in behaviour, style of dress, or lifestyle of the abused person
  • Constant contact or “checking up” on the whereabouts of the abused person
  • The abused person seems less confident, makes demeaning remarks about herself, or is cutting contact
  • Their partner sends harassing messages or calls constantly when they are apart
  • They seem afraid or anxious around their partner
  • Their partner limits their access to finances or financial decision making
  • They stop taking care of their own emotional and physical needs

If you recognise that any of the above apply to a friend or colleague, let them know that you are there if they need help or support.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has created a “Risk Assessment Tool for Victims of Domestic ViolenceOct2018-BS-Femicide-RiskAssessmentTool.pdf  This can help you or someone you know identify the potential risk faced by remaining in contact with the abuser. The tool will hopefully give you the information you need to make an informed decision about how to protect yourself from future harm by leaving the relationship or by protecting yourself from further abuse.

If you believe you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can get help from any of these organisations found here

View our site for additional information.