Identifying Abuse in a Relationship

by | Feb 15, 2012

By Nancy Travers

Anyone can become a victim of domestic abuse. It could be your neighbor, your child’s teacher, the teller at the bank, or the salesperson who just sold you mascara at the fine department store. Many women and men think that if they’re in a middle or upper income bracket they’re above abuse or that it wouldn’t happen to them. Not so. Abuse is prevalent at all income levels and all different backgrounds. This abuse can include emotional, sexual, psychological attacks with the intent of maintaining control and dominance. According to the Avon Foundation, which helps prevent domestic abuse, abuse is the leading cause of injury to women, even more than car accidents, rapes or muggings combined.

Abuse can start gradually and build to a crescendo, making the victim feel that she can’t survive without the abuser. As the abuse heightens so can the violence, and so can the fear. The abuser manipulates his victim into believing that she’s worthless and friendless, so that he can assert total control. Many times, the abuser will apologize and then continue the violence when the victim’s guard is down.

Here are five warning signs of abuse that could be a strong red flag in your relationship The abuser…


  1. calls or texts several times a day and wants an immediate response. The abuser also checks her car mileage and eavesdrops on her phone calls and web use. In addition, the abuser becomes extremely jealous if the victim is spending time with someone else.
  2. makes the victim feel guilty she’s not spending enough time with him and soon isolates her from her friends and family. He also prevents her from doing activities she used to enjoy. Many times the abuser will get serious too quickly and is overly generous in a way that may make someone uncomfortable.
  3. controls all of the victim’s finances and will even prevent her from making purchases to feed her family or pay her bills. He may even prevent her from applying for jobs or sabotage her work transportation.
  4. verbally abuses his victim via name-calling, constant criticism, public humiliation, and by even giving her the silent treatment when she wants to talk.
  5. exhibits a violent temper and has made threats against the victim, her family or even himself. He also forces his victim to have sex against her will.


We all have it within our power to stop abuse. If we see a friend who’s suffering, we need to ask questions and make sure she gets help, information and resources. If we see ourselves on this page, we need to get help and find ways to be as safe as possible from the abuser, which includes protecting our passwords and carefully using our cell phones. Identifying abuse is one way of breaking the cycle of violence in families and in our communities, and it’s also necessary

I’ve listed a few resources to help in the fight against domestic abuse:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    1-800-799-SAFE       (7233)
  • The National Center for Victims of Crime
  • Family Violence Prevention Fund

    Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

    For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
    copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.


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